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Meet the SAFTA 2023 Nominated Star of Hit Movie Gaia

Rocking With Monique Rockman, Star of SAFTA2023’s Most Nominated Film, Gaia

Monique Rockman’s tendency to not shy away from difficult and challenging roles has once again paid off with her being up for a Best Actress SAFTA for her starring role in Gaia.

Monigue Rockman stars as Gabi in the Eco-Horror Action film GAIA

In between the busy shooting schedule of her latest project Monique has made some time to chat with us about the action packed Eco-Horror from kykNET Films she stars in which with Nine Nominations, including Best Film, is the most nominated movie at the 2023 South African Film & Television Awards.

Monique Rockman stars as Gabi, a forest ranger injured on a routine mission in the Tsitsikamma National Park. She is saved by two off-the-grid survivalists but what starts out as a welcome rescue grows more suspicious as the son and his renegade father reveal a cultish devotion to the forest.

When their cabin is attacked, it’s clear there is a far greater threat in this unrelenting wilderness.

With Gaia being a not-so-ordinary story in a genre that isn’t known for palming in awards or making it big at the box office, we asked Monique if she had any idea that the film would get so much critical acclaim.

“Once I read the script, knowing the writer and having previously worked with the director, Jaco Bouwer, as well as the Director of Photography Jorrie van der Walt and the rest of the cast, I knew it was gonna be well done.”

“I’ve worked with them before and they are amazing in their craft. I was grateful that they trusted me once again with an outside of the box character in an outside of the box story.”

“I simply knew right from the start that it would be talked about.”

Originally from Albertina in Mosselbay and for most of her career residing in Cape Town, Monique is a professionally trained actress with an impressive list of Theatre Roles to her name, while she is best known to television viewers for her roles in Sara Se Geheim & Die Spreeus.

It is however in feature films that her talent for playing complex and challenging characters sets her apart from her peers.

Monique often still says her lead role as Pam in the 2018 Crime Thriller Nommer 37 has been and still remains her most challenging role. As Pam she had to immerse herself in the emotional turmoil of her character and the relationship she was in. Pam had to be strong-willed yet tender; vulnerable at times and also be bold; calculatingly smart but also filled with fear while having to defend herself.


Monique Rockman as Pam in Nommer 37

Monique was intensely convincing as Pam in Nommer 37 but her role as Gabi in Gaia clearly had its own unique set of challenges.

We asked her about those challenges and what impact the process of making Gaia had on her.

“Physically, Gaia was extremely challenging just in terms of the sheer amount of running and fighting while I also had to train hard at learning archery skills. The weather was also tough on us and the character didn’t really wear much in a lot of scenes.”

“I had to let go of self and give in to mother nature which was a beautiful thing.”

“I was lucky to have a team that I trusted and made me feel safe and comfortable at all times.”

Monique Rockman also had to learn the art of archery for her role in Gaia


With Monique Rockman in the lead role, director Jaco Bouwer and the Gaia production team took a story which one would usually expect to be the domain of B-rate horror flicks and turned it into what we at and many other critics deem to be a truly brilliant film.
The nine SAFTA nominations are a testimony to that.

Aside from Monique’s Best Actress nomination, Jaco Bouwer (Spinners, 4 Mure) is up for Best Director and Jorrie van der Walt is up for Best Cinematography at the SAFTAs, having won the same category at SXSW, one of the most prestigious film festivals globally. Having already won Best Film at Silwerskerm, among other honours, Gaia has an 85% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making Best Horror of the Year lists everywhere from Forbes to Variety.

Gaia is Currently Availabe for Streaming on Showmax.

Personally I quite liked the physicality of Monique’s portrayal of Gabi in Gaia. so I went into fanboy geek-mode for a second and just had to ask her whether, if in future an excellent script came along for something similar in the vein of an Action Eco-Horror or an Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Action Horror, perhaps even something like a “Gaia Reborn”, if could we expect to see Monique Rockman in such a magnificent role again.

“I would absolutely be part of it if I’m asked. I love the horror drama. An apocalyptic sci-fi action horror would be a dream come true.”

“Let me kill some aliens or zombies and shit!”

Yeah we definitely wanna be seeing you rocking it in such a role Monique.

WATCH Gaia Trailer

The SAFTAs will be held at Sun City on 29 and 30 September 2023, with the main awards ceremony broadcast live on Saturday, 30 September, on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and SABC 3 at 19:00.
For the full list of nominees, visit

Click on the image to watch Gaia

What do you think?

Written by Ryan Swano

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