Vanessa has been an entertainer from a very early age, appearing in her first theatre production at the age of 4. The budding actress appeared on stage throughout her childhood and as a teenager dancing and acting.
In 2000, she was a Miss South Africa finalist where she was spotted by one of the most sought after modeling agencies in South Africa. Her modeling career took her to various exotic destinations all over the world and she lived between London, Hamburg and Cape Town. She appears on countless magazine covers (e.g. Elle, Shape, Woman & Home, Bicycling) and has been the face of many successful campaigns.
Vanessa’s love of entertainment lead her to study drama to further her acting career in film and television, but not before gaining diplomas in both marketing and business management. She is also fluent in both English and Afrikaans.
She is a regular speaker at corporate conferences and various events, and her vivacious and friendly stage presence coupled with years of stage experience has her MC-ing and guest speaking at many functions.
Her highly successful television career started well before her film career did, having presented for Groen (Kyknet), Top Billing (SABC 3), AgriTV (SABC 1), Superdance (ETV) and Wildlife Video Cast (Asia). She has also hosted her own entertainment slot on the extremely successful and trendy 2 Oceans Vibe Radio, is an avid free-lance writer and voice artist.
Her biggest career success came in 2009 when she was cast as the leading lady for District 9 directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) which sat at number 1 at the Box Office for 3 weeks as well as taking in more than $200 000 million. It was nominated for 4 Oscars. She has also appeared in The Sweet Shop, Blood Diamond and Hey Boy.
Vanessa competed in MNET’s “Survivor Maldives – Celebs vs Plebs” in 2011, which she describes as a phenomenal life changing experience. It’s this adventurous spirit, which forms the foundation of her great love for sport. She is a keen trail runner and golfer too. She is also a water sports enthusiast who enjoys scuba diving and water skiing.
At the end of 2012 she became a semi-professional mountain biker – she had at that point been cycling socially since 2002. Over the last few years, Vanessa has re-invented herself by becoming a respected endurance athlete having completed two ABSA Cape Epic’s, the Leadville 100 miler in Colorado and many other stage races. She hopes to add the Cape Pioneer, Sani 2 C, Transalp and Swiss Epic to her list.
Although still active within the entertainment industry, recording voice overs, and filming corporate videos and TV commercials, Vanessa also works as the public relations and social media manager for Peak Sport Management which is co-owned by her husband, professional trail runner, Ryan Sandes, and his friend and business partner, Ryno Griesel. Peak Sport Management is a niche public relations, marketing communications, brand and project management company.
She enjoys inspiring men, woman and children to live positive, healthier, more active lifestyles through the races she competes in, and the charities she’s involved with such as The Pink Drive, Lettie Love Fund, the Laureus Foundation etc.
Some of the races she’s completed:
- ABSA Cape Epic (2012, 2013)
- The Pick n Pay Argus (MTB & Road) (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012)
- The Big 5 @ the Knysna Oyster Festival (2010)
- BSG Triathlon (2011)
- Otter Trail Run (2011)
- Grape Escape (2012)
- Double Century (2010, 2011)
- Storms River Traverse (2012)
- Wines 2 Whales (2010, 2011, 2012)
- Ride to Nowhere (2012)
- Attakwas (2012, 2013)
- Totalsports Challenge (2013)
- Cape Rouleur (2013)
- Leadville 100 miler MTB (2013)
Due to her profile, Vanessa is regularly in the media, appearing on magazine covers and in celebrity pages. She enjoys a great deal of coverage on television, radio and in print media, as well as being a regular guest at prestigious events.