- Profession: Actress
- Age: 25
- Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
- The first season of the Canadian-made Bomb Girls aired in 2012 and was an instant hit
- Bomb Girls is on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global Television
- Co-owns Nelson the Seagull, a coffee shop in Vancouver specializing in organic coffees
She’s a rising star in the acting world.
Jodi Balfour is best known for her role as Gladys Witham in Global TV’s top-rated Second World War drama, Bomb Girls. Since graduating from the University of Cape Town in 2009 with a BA in Theatre and Performance, she has also appeared in the BBC mini-series The Sinking of the Laconia, SyFy’s Sanctuary and The CW’s Supernatural.
Balfour now lives in Vancouver and co-owns a specialty coffee shop on the side. Around the city, she drives a 2011 Kia Rio.
Why did you choose a Kia Rio?
I had gone a year-and-a-half without having a car and I was looking for an entry-level, compact, easy, convenient car. The argument of pollution and environmental issues of driving a car were very much in the forefront of my decision-making process. After I did a lot of research – we compared four or five cars in its class – the Kia Rio model won best-in-its-class for fuel economy and was awarded the Green Award in Canada for fuel economy. So that was a big decision-making factor for me.
It also came down to the test drive. Whenever I get in it, it’s such a joy to drive. It’s easy to drive.
I love the sound system, too. It’s incredibly impressive, which surprised me. It’s not a Bose or anything fancy, but it’s an incredible sound system.
In South Africa I never drove a car with iPod and cellphone capabilities. It has all of that, which is great, too.
What don’t you like about it?
The shape is a little generic and a little boring for me. I wish it had a bit more pizzazz and character. It’s great if you want a blank canvas, but I get envious when I see a beautiful red Porsche drive by. Even the Mazda3 hatchback has a little bit of a quirk to them. The Kia Rio is pretty straight forward, clearly modelled on the Golf. A little lacklustre.
What does a Kia Rio say about you?
Practicality. Economy. Simple. No mess. No fuss. Reliable.
I’ve never been somebody who needs their car or other material, larger possessions to say something flashy about them.
For me, a car is a mode of transport – a reliable way to get from A to B. Comfort is important. And it’s very important to fit my friends and be able to go on a road trip.
Is it harder to drive in Canada or South Africa?
In South Africa we drive on the left-hand side and most of the cars are standard, so I learned with a full-gear transmission with a clutch and hill starts.
I’ve never driven an automatic until I came to Canada.
Cape Town is incredibly hilly and, when you’re driving a standard on a bunch of hills, one can stall quite easily.
But Canada is similar to Cape Town – it’s the perfect landscape for road trips.
I haven’t felt like I’ve been missing road trips.
The luxury of not having to change gears is amazing for me.
What was the first car you bought?
My first car was a little white Volkswagen City Golf. They’ve just been discontinued in South Africa, but they were the staple first car for most of my peer group. It’s the most entry-level, four-door, four-seater that Volkswagen ever made. I named him Doug. I don’t know why.
Does your Rio have a name, too?
It totally doesn’t. I think I’ve grown up a little bit.
Any embarrassing moments on the road?
The first time I had to fill up my car I had to go in and ask the guy running the cash machine to help me.
I was clueless with fuel grades. I didn’t do a good job of educating myself.
In South Africa we don’t do that – we have lovely people to do that for us. We stay seated in the car and someone comes to the tank and fills it up for us. It took me a while to learn how to do that, believe it or not.
Do you sing at the wheel?
Absolutely! Even if I don’t know the words, I just make them up as I go along.
I’m famous for my car dance while in the driver’s seat. I’m safe, of course. I have both hands on the wheel, but the shoulders go and my head bobs. I make sure everyone dances as well – it’s a rule when I get in my car.
I’ll be at a red traffic light, which affords me a bit of a hand pump. And then you look to the left and you see the driver next to you is giving you the eyeball – what is going on in that car?
Do you have a new appreciation for classic cars working on Bomb Girls?
I’ve always loved old cars. My dad does, too. We’d go to the car shows every year.
This season I get to drive a ’30s Ford – it’s beautiful, burgundy-coloured and the roof goes down. It’s standard and the gear stick is on the steering wheel, which I’ve never driven before.
Getting used to changing gears on the steering wheel – it’s not just first is forward, second is back – they’re all over the map. First is down and second is in the middle – it’s all crazy.
And when you turn it on and off, it’s a series of things you have to do. You don’t just turn the key. You turn the key, flip a switch, turn on the cooling fan, pull the lights – it’s incredible.
I feel like a pilot in a cockpit – it’s amazing. And I haven’t stalled it.
What’s your dream car?
An old-school Porsche or old ’70s MG. A beautiful cream Porsche Carrerra from the ’80s with a tan leather interior. I want something fun, quirky with a bit more personality. Having said that, I’ll probably regret it when it keeps breaking down on me.
This interview has been edited and condensed.