Hlubi Mboya has played an HIV-positive TV presenter, a jilted wife, a nurse, an alcoholic trophy wife and a gangster’s daughter, but never a self-centred, materialistic maneater.
That is, until now.
The actress has landed a supporting role on e.tv’s Mzansi Love: Last Resort miniseries.
Co-starring Buyile Mdlala and Lebo Mashile, the role sees Hlubi play Khanyi, who not only wants her cake, but she wants to eat it too. Woe betide anyone who gets in |her way.
I call Hlubi a day before the South African Film and Television Awards and I’m surprised to find her in Cape Town.
“Aren’t you going to the awards?” I asked her.
“No baby. I’m in Cape Town. I just did the Cape Epic and I’m exhausted, so I decided to skip them this year. I need to recover.”
Over the past few years, she’s become an adrenalin junky, doing everything from mountain biking to bodybuilding.
In her trademark husky voice, she tells me that Khanyi is one of the most interesting characters she’s played. “She’s a go-getter, an opportunist and she bulldozes anything that stands in the way of her success. She’s a successful career woman, career obsessed actually and she doesn’t mind using her sensuality to get ahead. She’s really hot, even if I say so myself (laughs) and she’s a driven person. Which is what I love about her.”
In Last Resort, Khanyi is business colleagues with Vuyo, who just lost his wife and is learning the ropes of being a single father. While having to deal with his new responsibility, he falls for the nanny, Nomusa, who is also his wife’s sister. He does what he can to fight his feelings.
Vuyo is played by Buyile and Nomusa by newcomer, Nozipho Nkelemba. Vuyo’s relationship with Khanyi is businesslike, although there’s potential for them to be together. “They work together and while they have that spark, (Vuyo) doesn’t want to be interested because he knows what type of person she is.
“Besides, it’s dangerous to mix business with pleasure, especially since they are business partners and Vuyo is more senior than she is. Hence then the attraction to Nomusa because she’s so different from Khanyi, plus she’s good with his children.”
Khanyi does all in her power to get his attention. “She wants him. He knows she wants him. But she unknowingly is the catalyst in Vuyo trying to pursue a relationship with the nanny. I can’t reveal any more.”
She said the energy and talent on the set was incredible.
“It’s amazing to see fresh talent shine and disappear into their roles. The set was great – from the filming process and the great director, to realising that I’m on a show where the visual appeal is as important as the story being told.”
“Look, we all love location shows. They add that extra special something to the show, but I doubt we’ll be getting more because they are so expensive.
“One of the reasons I loved |being on Last Resort was the location and it breaks my heart that sometimes we can’t tell the amazing stories we want to tell because of budget constraints.”
If she could create a TV series, she’d set it in the Western Cape.
“It’s my home province and the scenery here is just so amazing. While I was riding in the Cape Epic, half the time I was marvelling at the beauty of the province. I still want to act and focus on my acting. You know when you have that hunger to portray as many different people? I’m at the phase.”
Hlubi’s first TV role was on SABC3s Isidingo and she believes soapies are an important storytelling vehicle.
“What I liked about Isidingo, it’s edutainment at its best. While it doesn’t force it down people’s throats, the writing cleverly makes people slowly get educated about what is happening in society.
“Soapies are still important, even though I feel more drama series should be coming to the table.”
Speaking of local dramas and soapies, it was difficult to get her to say what was impressing her on the box. “Um, babe, to be honest…” she said, trailing off. “Okay. Isibaya has its moments. I love the new talent they have on the show. High Rollers was good, I didn’t mind it. That’s about it. I still need to catch up, though, because I heard there have been some decent dramas in the past year and a half.”
One of the last TV shows we saw Hlubi on was Jacob’s Cross, alongside Hlomla Dandala, Anthony Bishop and Terry Pheto. She’s focusing on her film career.
“The thing with film, though, is that it’s not as consistent as TV. There are times where you realise that you want to grow and be taken seriously as an actress and do solely film, but there aren’t that many films to work on and the competition for roles is very tough, so that’s why most of us have to straddle both TV and film. But once the film momentum begins and we can make more locally produced films, then the floodgates would open and I’m certain more of our actors would love to be on films.”
She recently appeared on the critically acclaimed iNumber Number, where she was the only female cast member in the Donovan Marsh-directed heist film.
“I played Gugu, the kingpin’s daughter, and I loved every minute of it. I didn’t have much of a big role, but it wasn't about how big or small the role is. It’s what you do with it. What made it better was the calibre of actors. From the experienced Owen Sejake to the young Sdumo Mtshali, who is an amazing actor and has a bright future ahead of him. Watching him work was great.”
While she doesn't yet know what’s next for her, she knows the type of character she wants to play.
“I’m not fussy about my roles, just as long as it’s someone who’s strong, whose story I would love to tell, I’m game. I’m really hungry for great roles, roles that I will be proud of as I look back at my career. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I know I will get there because that’s what I want.”
On what we can expect from her performance on Last Resort, Hlubi said viewers will see that Khanyi is a determined person.
“It’s a really great story and working on it was amazing. Khanyi is one character viewers will either root for or against. She’s a bad girl and as you know, bad girls have the most fun, even if they are messing with someone else’s life.”
Catch Hlubi on Mzansi Love: Last Resort on e.tv, Tuesday, 8.30pm
*This column was published in the 15 June 2014 issue of the Sunday Tribune SMtv Guide*