As a celebrity boxing champion, she packs a mean punch.
She’s also an internationally accomplished film actress.
She’s achieved a string of other accomplishments.
And she loves travelling. Meet South Africa’s Nicole Bessick.
By Stef Terblanche
South African TV audiences will know Nicole Bessick best for her work as Chloe, the somewhat complicated but stunning and athletic young woman on the hit ETV telenovela, “Broken Vows‟. She’s also a Celebrity Boxing Champion and Marie Claire Future Shaper who got her first big break in the locally produced and internationally acclaimed crime thriller “Cold Harbour”, screened at the Cannes, Berlin and Los Angeles film festivals. After that she went on to feature in the Netflix hit “Black Mirror‟ and Investigation Discovery’s “Killer Instinct‟.
But that’s by far not all. This dynamic young achiever has a string of additional accolades and isn’t just a pretty face – she’s also smart and holds an Honours Degree from the University of Cape Town, having majored in Intellectual Property. On top of that she’s an avid traveller who enjoys all the new discoveries and experiences that come with her full professional programme. We asked Nicole to share with our readers some of her most memorable travel experiences, her travel philosophy and some of her favourite holiday destinations.
Q: Nicole, before we get to your travel experiences, clarify for our readers how and when you started boxing, and why you chose boxing?
Nicole: My combat training began in response to needing to be able to do my own stunts. I fell in love with the sport and the process, and I have since taken it up as a hobby.
Q: Do you think women who box or partake in other such types of sport, or in extreme sports, are still subjected to being stereotyped? And what does you title #ActionBarbie signify?
Nicole: Absolutely. Being a strong female force in any male-dominated environment requires a thick skin and indomitable will. There is a long list of stereotypes as to what an athletic woman should look like and how they should behave. I like to throw these stereotypes squarely on their head. That’s how I got the nickname “Action Barbie”. When you look past the lashes and nails, you’ll know I have a healthy appetite for extreme sports and adventure. Anything fighting, fast car or firearm-related really gets my engine going. Of course, there are plenty of stereotypes around women in sport… but I like to give them the proverbial middle finger. I’m a lot stronger than most men I meet. It’s important to me to be able to show young girls that we can step toe-to-toe with our male counterparts, dominate them in whatever field we choose (sports, academics, business)… and we can do all of that looking and behaving however we choose.
Q: Remind me never to get on your wrong side! Anyhow, let’s talk about travel now. Tell us more about why you love travelling and what’s your philosophy on travel and exploring our country and the world?
Nicole: It’s quite simple really. I find that travel opens your eyes and teaches you not to take anything for granted. As they say, “So much of who we are, is where we have been.” And those words could not be more true. When you travel to a foreign place, you see life and things from a point of view that you simply can’t see them from at home. Those people, those circumstances, those climates, those moments… they simply don’t exist in your world back home. When you travel, you gain a better understanding of who you are, what you’re made of, and how the world works. And the same really goes for local travel. You discover parts of your country where you have never been before and have wonderful eye-opening new experiences. You meet communities and individuals that you previously knew very little about and learn about them and their culture. And our beautiful country has so very much to offer. It’s all out there; you just need to go and discover it.
Q: Are you able to travel much because of your work? Does it take you to out-of-the-way places, some hidden gems that not many people get to experience?
Nicole: I lead quite a jam-packed career and lifestyle, and with it comes the blessing of being able to travel for work. However, a work trip out of town is just that… a work trip with very little time to spare. So, planning my leisure travel in advance is key. I like to block out 10 days each quarter that are dedicated to travel, rest and relaxation. This year, I’ve made it my mission to explore my own country and I found such an awe-inspiring, breath-taking, hidden gem in Richards Bay! It’s so underrated. Unspoiled beaches, rich culture and an abundance of adventure activities that make for an ideal destination for a mental reset and to realign with yourself. (Editor: We share Nicole’s sentiment on Richards Bay and our readers my recall that we featured it as a great getaway in a previous edition in our regular Great Escapes section.)
Q: At Mzanzitravel it’s our mission to promote local travel. What are your views, your take, on local travel as opposed to overseas travel? Why do you think South Africans should explore their own country?
Nicole: I find that travelling in your home country offers so many benefits. Not only are you investing in your national economy but exploring and enjoying your home country also allows you to save on travel costs, learn more about your country’s heritage… and you get to make friends closer to home!
Q: What are the top South African travel or holiday destinations that you have been to and that really stand out for you?
Nicole: I would definitely say among the highlights for me have been the Garden Route, Cape Town, Durban and Richards Bay. All of these places are so beautiful and with so much to offer.
Q: What made you go to these places? Was it work or leisure or combined?
Nicole: I travel to Cape Town – which is where I grew up – for work quite often, but always make a point of connecting with my family and friends there as well as checking out the latest in the lifestyle, entertainment and adventure circuits. The Garden Route (Knysna, George, Plettenberg Bay) was leisure. Durban was a work-related trip that I managed to extend and whisked off to Richards Bay for an incredible few days.
Q: What are your thoughts on a woman travelling alone in South Africa? Do you have any tips for women in this regard?
Nicole: That’s a tricky one. I’ve been lucky enough to have friends or family living or travelling with me to each of the local travel destinations I’ve been to, and with good reason – safety is a looming concern. And it’s such a pity, travelling on your own broadens your horizons in ways you can’t imagine. My tips for women wanting to travel alone are two-fold: One, plan your schedule well in advance and make an effort to connect with the relevant people responsible for your transfers, accommodation and activities so they know when and where to expect you ahead; and two, keep your eyes and ears open at all times.
Q: What are your best memories of these holidays or visits – can you describe them and tell us why?
Nicole: Out of all my trips around the country… my most memorable will always be visiting Cape Town and my family and friends who live there. You can feel the love in the waves, in the air, on the street. There’s no place like home.
Q: Will you share with us some of your memorable travel experiences in other parts of Africa?
Nicole: Lesotho and Mozambique are two of my highlights! Lesotho for the adventures, and Mozambique for the nightlife! There’s little to beat it.
Q: If there is one local and one international destination or experience that you have not yet experienced but would want to do if you ever get the chance, which are these and why?
Nicole: I’ve ticked off all the local destinations on my bucket list, but when it comes to international travel destinations it has be Sri Lanka. I’m all about meaningful travel, and returning home with a deeper understanding of yourself, spirituality and the way the world works. And that pretty much sums up the Barberyn Resorts in Sri Lanka which I’m headed to later on this month with Luxuria Lifestyle. I can’t wait to unwind and centre myself on their celebrated, untouched beaches surrounded by ancient wisdom of holistic healing and such a vibrant and unique cultural heritage.
Well, there you have it. Great person, great competitor and great travels! We wish Nicole all the best in her career and her future travels, especially her visit to Sri Lanka coming up.