Meet Hendrik Baird
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We All Have A Story – Here Is Mine
Hendrik Baird is a multi-talented man with more than thirty years experience in performing arts, entertainment and media, and more than ten years as a Hypnotherapist.
It started at the age of eight when he taught himself to play the piano, followed by a huge appetite for reading and an ever-evolving interest in performance. By age ten he was an accomplished magician, having learned from the famed magician Jannie de Bruyn. His love for movies also started at this young age, as his dad was an avid 8 mm and Super 8 home moviemaker, producing several nature documentaries.
When high school came, he excelled in debating and participated in practically every production mounted at school. He studied the piano throughout high school and completed UNISA theory Grade 6. He was crowned the Music King in matric at the annual music school competition.
After matriculating in 1981 with two distinctions, he went on to study Drama at the University of Pretoria (UP) to pursue his ambition of becoming a professional actor. His studies were interrupted by two years of compulsary military conscription before obtaining both BA (Drama) and BA (Drama) Hons degrees by the end of 1988. He was awarded Colours for Culture, recognizing his impact on UP campus life through playwriting. His first play, En dit was more, met with considerable success and was professionally performed in Cate Town and Durban after debuting at ATKV Kampustoneel in 1986.
After completing his studies, he was offered a contract as an actor at the old PACOFS in Bloemfontein, where he spent the next three years performing in a great number of plays, from classical Greek tragedies to contemporary plays, children’s productions, library programmes, puppet theatres, musicals, poetry programs, even performing with the local Symphony Orchestra as a soloist, playing the typewriter!
It was here that he befriended actress Annemarie Rauh whom he would marry at the end of this period. (They have three children and were divorced in 2000.)
1n 1992 saw a move to Hartswater in the Northern Cape (incidentally Hendrik spent his primary school years just 30 km away in Jan Kempdorp). Here he started work at the newly built Mmabana Cultural Centre in the rural village of Lokaleng in Taung, some thirty kilometers north of Hartswater. Hendrik managed the Drama unit, implementing curricula for the Drama teachers to use in presenting Drama classes for children from age six up to Matric. He introduced an adult apprentice program for would-be performers as well as conceptualising, launching and managing what became a major developmental arts festival for the NW Department of Arts and Culture called the North West Cultural Calabash. This festival brought the arts to remote rural areas that would not normally be able to have such an experience. At the same time it was scouting for talent that, once identified, was to be further trained through the Mmabana Foundation.
The Calabash festival started with a competition aspect aimed at middle and high school learners with a range of categories including, drama, dance, poetry, music, etcetera. Sixteen auditions throughout the North West led to four semi-finals in the districts and the finalists (some almost one thousand learners) taken to the main event in Taung, which was held over the Heritage weekend. Here young people were exposed to professional performances and large music events. The festival was sponsored by the NW Department of Arts and Culture and the Transnet Foundation.
Hendrik managed the NW Cultural Calabash until the end of 1998 and was asked to return and reinvigorate it in 2004 where he stayed in Mafikeng for four years.
Hendrik and his family left Taung for Durban at the beginning of 1999 where he was appointed Director of the Bartel Arts Trust (BAT) Centre on the Durban harbour. This vibrant centre played host to resident artists, music and other performances, conferences, art exhibits, as well as having a retail aspect. Hendrik not only managed the centre, but also The Zanzi Bar Restaurant and the BAT Bar. When his tenure ended, he stayed in Durban for two years, freelancing and reestablishing his magic show called Silly Business, which he performed at local birthday parties, schools and at national arts festivals. He also freelanced within the Durban theatre community. In early 2002 he moved back to Pretoria to pursue a freelance career.
During the next few years, Hendrik performed on stage, on screen and on television in a variety of roles. He had a starring role in the movie Max and Mona as well as the series Platinum. He also made guest appearances in Egoli, Generations, Sewende Laan and many other local soapies. Hendrik continued performing magic and performed his show at several festivals, such as the Grahamstown Arts Festival, Festival of Fame and KKNK. He then landed a role in the very successful stage production of the Ray Cooney farce My Boetie se Sussie se Ou in which he was the lead character, directed by Pierre van Pletzen, better known as Oubaas in Sewende Laan. The show was performed for six months in the State Theatre in Pretoria to packed audiences eight times a week. For the next six months, it toured to the Carnival City, Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, returning to Carnival City. It was toward the end of the run of this play that Hendrik was asked to return to the Northwest Province as Festival Manager the Cultural Calabash.
Moving to Mafikeng to rejoin the festival resulted in some of the most satisfying years of his life, as he re-energised the festival and continued his passion of investing in young talent. During the time here, Hendrik started getting involved in LGBTQ+ activism, co-founding the NPO Gay Umbrella, which aimed to support the local LGBTQ+ population. Hendrik was soon using his organizational skills in order to host beauty pageants, films festivals, picnics and HIV prevention projects throughout the province. When his contract ended at the Mmabana Foundation, Hendrik was recruited by OUT LGBT Well-Being, a Pretoria based organisation that wanted to open an office in Mafikeng. Hendrik spent all his efforts towards this endeavor, in the process becoming a leading role player in a research project conducted by UNISA Centre for Applied Psychology into the levels of rural LGBTQ+ empowerment. Hendrik was tasked to write up the research results, resulting in his first academic book being published.
Meanwhile, Hendrik started studying hypnotherapy and at the end of 2010 qualified as a non-medical Hypnotherapist through the South African Institute of Hypnotism. He moved back to Pretoria and opened a full-time Hypnotherapy practice called Hypnosis Works!, specialising in smoking cessation.
Apart from one-on-one sessions with clients, Hendrik has also done many group hypnosis sessions during corporate wellness days, as well as presenting self-hypnosis workshops.
Unfortunately, Hendrik’s heart decided to throw a spanner in the works and double bypass surgery early in 2013 slowed him down for a while. Luckily Hendrik had taken up yoga a few years before and this stood him in good stead during this time. He has subsequently intensely studied Hatha yoga as taught by Guru Iyengar and practices daily while also guiding yoga and meditation sessions. Hendrik is a practising Buddhist after having taken vows in 2014 and receiving Kalachakra empowerments in the Jonang tradition.
Hendrik bounced back soon enough and became very involved with a new online Internet radio station, GaySA Radio of which he was a shareholder. As the Station Manager, he designed the content and music strategy and was the on-air voice of the station. Initially the station was run on a volunteer basis until such time as a small staff compliment could be appointed to run the daily radio activities. News of the first gay radio station in Africa made headlines around the world in mostly LGBTQ+ publications, with the BBC filming two inserts about the station and its activities.
Hendrik involved GaySA Radio with a number of LGBTQ+ issues, including leading the campaign to have US gay-hating pastor Steven L. Anderson banned from South Africa. This was achieved after he and his legal counsel Coenraad Kukkuk successfully petitioned the Minister of Home Affairs after getting more than 60 000 petition signatures in support of the cause. Anderson has subsequently also been banned in Botswana (from where he was deported) and Jamaica, based on the dossier of evidence Hendrik compiled with his team.
GaySA Radio became media partner of the Mr. Gay South Africa 2016 and Mr. Gay World 2017 competitions, for which Hendrik produced two campaigns, the first aimed at a South African LGBTQ+ audience and the second aimed at a worldwide one. On-air campaigns took the form of interviews with all the participants, daily updates and commercials promoting the various phases of the competition. Apart from the on-air campaigns, there was also a large social media element, the reach and engagement of which broke all previous records of exposure for the brand. Hendrik was also the publicist for both these events. His photograph of the Mr. Gay World 2018 winner made the front page of the Cape Times.
Always having wanted to further his studies, Hendrik jumped at the opportunity when awarded a partial bursary from the Shambhala Foundation. He graduated with a Masters Degree in Media and Journalism from the University of the Witwatersrand in December 2019. He has teamed up with his supervisor, the respected radio academic Franz Kruger, to write a chapter for a new book about citizen participation in radio, based on Hendrik’s research into Internet radio in South Africa. This book will be published early in 2021.
In 2019 Hendrik spent nine months in Cape Town to establish a GaySA Radio office there, but due to the economic climate those plans had to be shelved for the immediate future.
Hendrik then became the Administrator for Resthill Memory Care, a facility for people with Alzheimer disease and dementia. Here he helped out with admin and marketing while playing the piano again, this time for singalongs with the residents of the homes.
Hendrik is now embarking on a more full-time writing career, having just finished a cabaret with South African singer and actress Marié du Toit, titled As Ons Twee Eers Geskei Is. He is working on a new project, to be revealed soon. He is also a ghostwriter for The Urban Writers.
Henrik is also back in the hypnosis business, having adapted to the challenges of Covid-19. He has started a podcast channel dedicated to Hypnotherapy and regularly writes articles about the topic. He has a podcast channel where he interviews working hypnotists. Hendrik is part of the team that is bringing Hypnosis Masterclasses to the world, working with Thomas Budges and Yvonne Munshi.
Hendrik is co-owner of the website Find a Hypnotist and regularly writes articles about hypnosis there.
Together with his son Ethan, who is a podcast specialist, he has started a company specialising in written, audio, and video content production called Baird.Media.
Hendrik has no intention of retiring and believes he will make positive contributions until the day his heart decides: “No more”.