Maaike Cafmeyer became a nude model to get rid of shyness: “I turned red when I had to say something”

Maaike Cafmeyer became a nude model to get rid of shyness: “I turned red when I had to say something”
Maaike Cafmeyer became a nude model to get rid of shyness: “I turned red when I had to say something”

You wouldn’t know it if you saw her in ‘Chantal’ or the jury of ‘De Slimste Mens’, but Maaike Cafmeyer used to be very shy. A teacher at the Conservatory warned her that becoming an actress was not an option if she kept getting so red. “A friend suggested that I pose naked to get rid of it,” she says on Radio 1. “That really helped.”

Beyoncé, Elton John and also our Maaike Cafmeyer: they shine on stage, but used to be paralyzed by shyness. The West Flemish actress talks about it in Sofie’s world. “I was a girl who always kept in the background. Certainly not a table jumper or cockerel at the front. Very often I didn’t dare say things.” Maaike remembers how she and her sister always hung on to their mother’s skirt. “One on the left, the other on the right. We were twirling our hair with our other hand. Whenever someone asked us something, we first looked to our mother to see what to answer.”

Thanks to her neighbor and babysitter, she discovered that being on stage helps. “She registered me for a singing competition in Torhout. Before I went on stage, I was really nervous. I can’t do this, I thought.” Once on stage, it clicked. “Suddenly a kind of peace and tranquility came over me. Those people you suddenly see are looking at you. That was something very special. I didn’t feel scared or anything anymore. I came off the stage very happy, as if I had been floating for a moment.” A little later she also discovers the effect of humor. “Making people laugh can be very liberating. All your insecurity and fear about who you are disappears.”

Red cheeks

At the Conservatory, a side effect of shyness affected Maaike. She turned red very quickly. “In the first year we had a very strict elocution teacher. She said: ‘Maaike, if you always turn so red when you have to say something, then you won’t get anywhere. You always betray when it’s your turn, so what are you going to do in the theater?’ I thought that was so intense that she said that, but it was true. Acting was what I wanted to do with my life. Then I realized I had to do something about it.”

A friend suggested she become a nude model for students at Sint-Lucas. Maaike initially thought she was crazy, but she did it anyway. “She said: you have to objectify yourself. You are looked at for your body, but actually mainly for the proportions of your shoulders, your tits, your knees,… Not for who you are.” The actress feels liberated as she stands there posing without clothes, with only the sound of pencil on paper in the air. “It’s about: what do people think about me? I realized that no one thinks anything about me. No fuck. People are mainly concerned with themselves. That really helped me.”

Cafmeyer has largely overcome her shyness, but she is still in her. “I will never be the person with the loudest noise. But I do enjoy making people happy. Humor is a pleasure, and so is embarrassment, actually. But too much is never good. In that respect, I’m glad that I was able to use my shyness to turn it into something positive for me and other people. Thank goodness that I was shy (laughs).”


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