'I cried for four days' - Shannon Esra opens up about season two of Lioness

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Shannon Esra plays Samantha on Mnet's Lioness.
Shannon Esra plays Samantha on Mnet's Lioness.

To some people she will always be Sandra Stein.

And even though she's moved on to do other roles, actress Shannon Esra is grateful for the role that helped her cross over for both the black and white markets.

Sandra Stein is a big-shot attorney who is used by the most unscrupulous TV characters whenever they have run-ins with the law. She has appeared on shows like The Legacy, The Queen and The River.

“I think it is a huge deal to be able to cross over because of Sandra Stein. Having both large groups of people in both black and white viewers is a big blessing. It feels very special and rare.”

She is the go-to lawyer when you’re in a tight spot. She’s a woman with a reputation for being fierce and ruthlessly defending wealthy clients, no matter what their scandalous crime.

And it’s not for nothing that she’s known as the “Stein Remover” – and why she’s a character everyone loves to hate.

Sandra Stein has given her haters plenty of opportunities to see her in action – she’s the only character on TV to have appeared in four of Mzansi Magic’s most popular shows.

She previously told Drum she is thrilled to be able to bring Sandra to life.

“I am very grateful for the character and to Mzansi viewers who are very bold in showing their appreciation for her.”

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Lawyers aren’t always pleased at the storylines about the profession, saying there’s too much that isn’t as it would be in real life, but viewers can’t get enough.

Shannon says women have walked up to her to tell her the character has inspired them to study law.

“Yes, there are negative comments but more than 98% of the response received over the years has been positive,” she says.

Back in 2017 the crafty lawyer became an instant hit on The Queen when she defended Harriet (Connie Ferguson) in a murder case.

Then she won over a whole new set of fans in The River when she represented Lindiwe (Sindi Dlathu) in her divorce case.

And who can forget her epic courtroom battle with the Morules in The Throne?

Sitting in her car while she runs her errands, Shannon shares with Drum that she cannot wait for viewers to watch season two of Lioness on M-Net.

“Season one was about the story of a woman who was wrongly incarcerated because of husband’s crimes. As a result, she lost her family, and she spent the season fighting for her integrity and dignity.

“Season two is taking up a notch. We arrive at the terminal, and we go deeper into that tunnel. Samantha cannot be stopped. Every thread she pulls on leads to the next thing that she uncovers.”

As great an actress South Africans think she is, she experienced self-doubt before the second offering of the show.

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“I cried for four days before we started shooting. I even questioned if I could even act and if I would do justice to the story. I read the script and I thought it was remarkable and I doubted myself. Thankfully, I was able to snap out of it and deliver what was needed for the character.”

Lioness hits the small screen on 26 January at 8pm on M-Net.

“I cannot wait for viewers to watch. They will be left emotionally thrilled, horrified, crying and satisfied.”

She has a couple of things up her sleeve that are still under wraps and says she is currently developing something with her writing partner.

She is, however, excited to share that she shot a project that will be on Netflix in February.

“It is a romcom and it will be interesting to see how people will receive that character. I am scared and excited at the same time.

“I, myself, am a funny person. But viewers know my characters and they are not funny. So seeing me in a comedic role will be different and I really hope they will like it.”

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