Daniah De Villiers Talks Role in ‘Mia and the White Lion’

ATM: How did the characters you picked up from the lion relate to who you were at 10 years old?

DV: For me, the characters were being strong. As Mia develops throughout the movie, she starts moving like a lion in a way.

ATM: How would you describe the movement about the lion? What is so dignifying with the movement of a lion?

DV: It is being observant and being moving still. I remember working with my acting coach with how to movie like a lion. It is also being aware of your surrounds and moving still very fast.

ATM: Would you agree there are hidden qualities that are like animals?

DV: Yes. The lion in your never retreats.

ATM: How would you explain the resilient nature seen in a lion vs a human?

DV: This is what we can learn from lions. People fight back without thinking. There is a lot of loyalty and respect for lions. We as humans can learn this from them.

ATM: What can you reflect on the differences in the landscape in Africa vs other places?

DV: We had to move Capetown to where the lions where. In this way, I related to Mia. I wanted to be with the lions in the beginning, but she does not. It was very different for my character Mia to move away from London in the city to South Africa with a bunch of wild animals around her. For me, I was not used to living in the bush with wild animals even though I lived in South Africa. It gave me an opportunity to know the side of South Africa.

ATM: On the oppositional side, could you understand why someone would intimidate of a lion?

DV: Definitely. You know when you are facing a lion. The relationship was the only safety net of this entire project. I can understand people would be nervous facing a lion because they are so powerful. This is what made this relationship so unique. Such a powerful animal chose to be gentle with me.

ATM: How did you grow to understand the sensitive attitudes to the lion?

DV: For me, it was about spending time with them. Kevin Richardson taught me all I know about lions. They are very sensitive and pick up on what you are feeling. They react just on what you are doing. I had a very special bond with the lion from the beginning. It was like a telepathy thing. When looking into their eyes, they knew we were going to hug.

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