Episode 20

Annie Africa – Actress & Model finds happiness living amongst the Lions


My guest on the show today left a budding acting and modeling career in Hollywood, and has chosen a more simple life; living and working as a ranger and rhino activist in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Now, Lee-Anne Yammin is an author, actress, and activist, and operates “Our HORNS are not medicine!” to draw public awareness, care for Rhinos and confront poaching activity. Lee-Anne is one of only a few women Park Rangers, pioneering a male-dominated industry and blazing a new trail for women all around the world. 

She left a glamorous life for the mud, sweat, and tears.

Lee-Anne shares her background, starting when she decided to leave her career in modeling and acting to travel the world, and eventually landing in South Africa, about 200km north of her family home. She left a glamorous life for the mud, sweat, and tears. When Lee-Anne started working as a Ranger, she had never known any other woman doing the job. For the first five or so years, she was the only woman Ranger at her workplace. 

The area Lee-Anne works in has a deeply-rooted culture with assumptions and stereotypes that come with gender roles.

The area Lee-Anne works in has a deeply-rooted culture with assumptions and stereotypes that come with gender roles. She recalls being told she belongs doing laundry, not training to become a Ranger, an example of interactions she has had to continually deal with since she began. Lee-Anne responds with laughter and explains that those sorts of comments show more about the person saying them than those they are speaking about. 

Observing and basking in an animal’s natural state is the best thing anyone could ask for, as far as Safari goes.

Lee-Anne believes we are all one with nature, we just need to trust that. In her work, she describes a beautiful thing that happens when she goes on Safari. They come into a lion pride’s area in a noisy truck, only to be met with indifference–and that’s a good thing. Observing and basking in an animal’s natural state is the best thing anyone could ask for, as far as Safari goes. There is nothing stopping them from jumping in the jeep except trust. 

These safaris are often a transformative, life-altering experience.

These safaris are often a transformative, life-altering experience. Lee-Anne shares a story of a woman on her honeymoon, but her husband passed between their wedding and the trip. They made a list of things they’d love to see while they were in Africa, and every couple, all strangers, joined in to help her get through the list. Often, these people build a therapeutic comradery that is shaped by vulnerability–they’ll go home and remain lifelong friends. 

For her, resilience is an incredibly underused trait that we all have inside us.

Lee-Anne discusses some lessons she has learned from the natural world and the animals that live in it. For her, resilience is an incredibly underused trait that we all have inside us. She wishes we allowed our kids to get dirty and worry less about the little things. It’s about the times when they’re outside is when really formative moments happen. Tenacity is learned in those years, and Lee-Anne compares us to the animals she watches: they do what they need to do without manipulation. If they need to hunt, they will hunt. Even with broken limbs, animals will continue to keep moving. It’s worth considering moments where we have the opportunity to push through. 

Lee-Anne talks about her books and what inspired her to be an author. In 2018, Lee-Anne was married to her husband and they decided they would do a round-the-world trip together. The thing was, they’d have to leave their current jobs. Truthfully, they were ready for a break, so even without the money, they did it anyway. At the same time, Lee-Anne knew she always wanted to write a children’s book. Not only did she write one book, but she published two at the same time. There were no guaranteed sales, but she knew she was passionate about educating children about the wildlife she’s worked with. 

Lee-Anne’s mentor is one you may not expect–it’s not a family member, it’s not a friend, in fact, it’s not even a person.

Lee-Anne’s mentor is one you may not expect–it’s not a family member, it’s not a friend, in fact, it’s not even a person. While she had people she looked up to showing her the ropes with her NGO, her true mentor is a Lioness she’s followed for almost 10 years. She’s done more for Lee-Anne, she says, than any person she’s met. She has taught Lee-Anne the value of tenderness from the way she cares for her cubs; she’s taught her patience in the way they forgive cubs for blowing a hunt, hours long; and so much more. 

She was orphan as a child but was thankfully given another chance, and she has since dedicated herself to not wasting a second of her life.

Of course, this hasn’t all come without any challenges. From the start, Lee-Anne was independent by necessity. She was orphan as a child but was thankfully given another chance, and she has since dedicated herself to not wasting a second of her life. Her resolve is always found in nature–the rawness of it is healing. 

Tune in to hear even more about Lee-Anne’s incredible journey and the lessons she’s learned from her time in the bush. 

“I never knew what I was getting into, but I knew I wanted to give it a try.” – Lee-Anne Yammin

Connect with Lee-Anne Yammin

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