Shannon Esra: A Multifaceted South African Talent

Shannon Esra

Shannon Esra, born on 1 February 1984, is a South African actress and singer known for her versatile roles across film, television, and stage. She had her first taste of acting at the tender age of 4, narrating at a nursery school Purim concert.

Shannon Esra

Shannon Esrechowitz

1 February 1984 (age 40)

Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationality South African
Alma mater University of the Witwatersrand
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active 2004–present
Known for
  • Life Is Wild
  • The Queen
  • Salaam-e-Ishq

Her early inclinations towards performance saw her participating in local talent contests, where she would often impersonate Elvis Presley.

Esra’s professional acting career began at the age of 16 when she appeared in the film I Dreamed of Africa, starring Kim Basinger, playing the character Siri. She later pursued her passion for drama academically, studying Dramatic Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she received her BA (Hons) Degree in 2003.

Stage and Film Achievements

Esra’s talent shone brightly on stage, earning her the Naledi Theatre Award for Best Performance by a Newcomer/Breakthrough (Female) for her role as Neets in Dorothy Ann Gould’s production Japes. She also received a Fleur du Cap nomination for this performance. Her other notable stage productions include the three-woman comedy Six Inches (2018) and the cabaret Homebound (2004).

In 2007, Esra made history in Bollywood with her portrayal of Stephanie in Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love, becoming one of the first Caucasian actresses to play a lead role in a Bollywood film. She dyed her hair blonde and adopted an American accent for the role of an American woman who travels to India to stop her boyfriend from marrying another woman, only to fall in love with a taxi driver played by Govinda.


Esra’s television career is marked by significant roles in various series. In 2005, she starred as Caz O’Donough in the South African psychological thriller/police drama Snitch. She also played the ambitious investigative journalist Kim Smollen in the newsroom drama Hard Copy. Between 2021 and 2023, Esra starred as Samantha Hugo in the South African crime drama series Lioness.

Esra’s versatility has been evident in her recurring role as Sandra Stein, a sharp-witted lawyer, in several South African TV series including The Queen, The River, The Throne, Gomora, and Legacy.



  • 2000: I Dreamed of Africa as Siri
  • 2006: Number 10 as Katie
  • 2007: Salaam-e-Ishq as Stephanie
  • 2011: 2ND Take as ‘Movie’ Lindsey
  • 2015: The Gamechangers as Jen Kolbe
  • 2021: The Ground Under as Jessica ‘Jess’ Stuckman
  • 2023: Do Your Worst as Sondra


  • 2003: Yizo Yizo 3 as Robbery Daughter
  • 2004: Isidingo as Yvette Meyer
  • 2004: Snitch as Caz O’Donough
  • 2005: The Triangle as Sally
  • 2006–2007: Hard Copy as Kim Smollen
  • 2007–2008: Life Is Wild as Lauren
  • 2008: Wild at Heart as Angie
  • 2008: The Lab as Samantha Mazur
  • 2010: Miss Behave as Rachel
  • 2015–2017: Isidingo as Angelique Scott
  • 2017–2021: The Queen as Sandra Stein
  • 2018–2022: The River as Sandra Stein
  • 2019: The Throne as Sandra Stein
  • 2020–2021: Gomora as Sandra Stein
  • 2021–2022: Legacy as Sandra Stein
  • 2020: Still Breathing as Candice Burton
  • 2021–present: Lioness as Samantha Hugo

Personal Life

Shannon Esra resides in Sandton with her parents and younger brother. She has a unique hobby as a “closet fan” of competitive ping-pong competitions, showcasing her diverse interests beyond acting.


Shannon Esra’s journey as a multifaceted South African talent encompasses a rich tapestry of accomplishments across film, television, and stage. Her early passion for acting blossomed into a successful career marked by notable roles and accolades. From her groundbreaking role in Bollywood to her compelling portrayals in South African dramas, Esra’s versatility and dedication to her craft shine through. Her personal life, including her love for ping-pong, adds depth to her vibrant persona. Shannon Esra stands as a testament to the power of talent, hard work, and a genuine passion for the arts, leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.

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