Eldos' Queen of Smoke spins role in Charlize Theron's new reality show

25 August 2019 - 00:00 By KARISHMA THAKURDIN
Stacey-Lee May. ‘When I get into my car, it’s like you don’t want to mess with me.’
Stacey-Lee May. ‘When I get into my car, it’s like you don’t want to mess with me.’
Image: Alon Skuy

Stacey-Lee May thought she was dreaming when Hollywood superstar Charlize Theron strolled into her yard in Eldorado Park.

That surprise meeting more than a year ago culminated this week in the premiere of a new Netflix reality series on street racers and drifters across the world.

May was hand-picked to feature on Theron’s first reality show, Hyperdrive, which debuted on Wednesday.

The SA-born actress described the show on Instagram as The Fast and the Furious meets American Ninja Warrior. It features a group of street racers and drifters pushing their limits and showing off their love of cars.

May told the Sunday Times this week that when she was contacted by Theron’s team last year, she thought it was a joke.

The 21-year-old third-year university law student said Theron’s team told her she was discovered after her name popped up during a Google search for “female drifters in SA”.

“I thought it was a joke at first and only after we did a Skype call did I realise, damn, this is real.”

Stacey-Lee May in front of a spinning car.
Stacey-Lee May in front of a spinning car.
Image: Alon Skuy

A few weeks before she and her mother were due to jet off to Rochester, New York, for a month to film the reality show, producers visited her home in Eldorado Park to get footage of her life.

“We were busy doing a dummy interview when I heard voices coming from around the corner of my house, and before I could register what was happening, I saw Charlize Theron walking into my yard as if she was one of the neighbours. My mom burst into tears, she was so emotional. We all could not believe that Charlize Theron was here in our house in Eldorado Park.” May described Theron as an “amazing” woman, who was “incredible” to work with.

While some would be nervous to have a Hollywood star step into their spin car, May was determined to show Theron what she could do.

“I was more nervous to have a conversation with her but when I get into the car I do what I do best and I was determined to show her that I’m going to represent our country.”

After giving Theron a taste of her skills, the Oscar-winning actress told May she was one “badass chick”. On Instagram, Theron labelled drifting with May as a “bucket list item”.

Spinner Stacey-Lee May with Charlize Theron during the filming of ‘Hyperdrive’. Theron told May she was one ‘badass chick’.
Spinner Stacey-Lee May with Charlize Theron during the filming of ‘Hyperdrive’. Theron told May she was one ‘badass chick’.
Image: Charlize Theron Instagram

“She told me that I should never give up, I should follow my passion and even when it gets tough I should keep pushing and something will come out of it.”

Street racing has been a part of May’s family since she was a child, but she started spinning officially when she turned 16. After she was bullied in high school, May’s dad decided spinning would help boost her confidence.

“Spinning has given me a voice and has given me the courage to speak up for myself. I’m still a quiet person but when I get into my car, it’s like you don’t want to mess with me.”

Five years down the line, May has competed against men from across the world and is determined to champion women’s rights. The petite young woman was dubbed the Queen of Smoke after winning one of the country’s popular street races, Kings and Queens of Smoke, for five consecutive years.

May leaves for Pakistan soon to compete in the Mountain Dew Extreme Motorfest, where she will be the only female driver. “We’re females in a male-dominated sport, trying to show people that women can do anything and everything,” she said.


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