Being touted as an Action Crime Thriller, a story of the underdog triumphing over adversity and a young man escaping the trappings of gang life, Spinners is also a Love Story.
Chelsea Thomas plays Amber who is not only a champion spinner but she’s also the potential love interest of lead character Ethan played by Cantona James.
The very first time Ethan sees Amber spinning, sparks fly and the potential for romance is palpable in the smouldering looks they give each when their eyes lock.
This is South Africa’s Breaking Bad
Spinners which premieres on Showmax on 8 November 2023 follows Ethan, a 17-year-old driver working for a local gang. Needing to support his younger brother but increasingly disgusted with gang life, Ethan discovers a possible way out via spinning, an extreme motorsport where he can put his driving skills to better use. With a gang war looming, can he turn his life around fast enough?
Following the Spinners opening night at MIP Africa Fameweek in September, Fortress of Solitude proclaimed, “This is South Africa’s Breaking Bad. It’s just that good.”
If you’ve seen the trailer, you probably have questions about the young woman flexing her muscles while standing on the open door of her car while it spins.
Spinners Lead Actress Chelsea Thomas answers those questions in this Q&A Interview arranged by Showmax.
What can you tell us about your character on Spinners?
I play the role of Amber; she is the best female spinner in the country. She’s Ethan’s rival but she could potentially become his love interest.
Are there many women in spinning?
I grew up in Kraaifontein, and for all my childhood I would go to the pitch on a Sunday. That would be where all the cars gathered to spin. I’d only ever seen men spin. So when I started the job on Spinners, then only I learned that female spinners are actually dominating the sport now.
Like your stunt double, Kayla Olifant?
Oh my goodness! Kayla is absolutely fearless. She’s amazing. She’s definitely one of the best spinners in the country, and she loves winning. I say this all the time: I don’t know how Kayla does it. The things she does feel super reckless but she loves it. You can see the passion in her eyes. You know when you can look into people’s eyes and you can just see a fire burning for something? That’s exactly what it felt like having a conversation with her about spinning.
Spin Action on a Spinning Pitch typical of what could be found somewhere on the Cape Flats – Image Supplied
Do you relate to Amber and her story?
I won’t say I relate to Amber at all. Funny story: I’m in Spinners but I failed my licence twice and I’m an anxious driver. So for my character to be a spinner? Hello…
To be in the spinning car as well, that was definitely a highlight for me, that was definitely a first for me. Spinning is the craziest thing that people do, but it’s so much fun.
This is the first time that I get to tap into a role such as this; Amber is definitely something else compared to all the innocent little girls that I used to play, or the 17-year-old high school kids in other series.
So we are two very different people but I love that we are worlds apart and I’m so out of my comfort zone; it’s been such a humbling, growing experience. As an actress, I’ve learned to always be open to new, to more. I want to keep taking on more of what I’m not used to; I want to be as versatile as I can be.
You worked with Cantona on Arendsvlei. What’s it like working with him again?
It’s been an absolute joy. He’s one of those actors who holds space for you, who makes you feel seen, who makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger. To be able to play alongside Cantona again on Spinners has just been a dream come true, because he’s one of those people that you want to work with over and over and over again.
You grew up in Cape Town. Why is Spinners important to this community?
Spinning has always been a big part of culture in Cape Town, in the Cape Flats, so they will love seeing these stories finally being told.
There have been a lot of documentaries about spinning but this time there’s a series, and this time the story has heart and it’s being told from the ground up.
Growing up in Kraaifontein, I know spinning is sometimes seen as something bad. But Spinners shows a different side to it: it shows the passion, it shows the drive, it shows the adrenaline, it shows the joy. It’s so encouraging and inspiring to tap into a different side of spinning, to show that it isn’t all bad.
You’ve just come back from Spinners’ sold-out premiere in Paris, with another standing ovation. What does this mean to know this will screen on CANAL+ and other international broadcasters?
This is my first ever international job and my biggest yet so I’m excited for the rest of the world to see what our people are all about. Standing on that stage in Paris after the screening and realising the magnitude of the work we had done was absolutely incredible. It felt amazing to know that our work will be displayed on such big platforms. It is truly heartwarming to know that our stories are not just staying here. It will now be seen by even bigger audiences who have no idea what life is like on our side.
The Showmax and CANAL+ Original series Spinners became the first African series selected in competition at Canneseries; won three awards at Dakar Series, including Best TV Series; received a standing ovation from its sold-out South African premiere at Silwerskerm; and was the opening night screening at MIP Africa, generating rave reviews, with TWFLD hailing it as “the gold standard for local productions.”