Having starred in a soapie for more than five years, Nthati Moshesh is killing it on SABC 2’s ‘Thola’ as Dibuseng Makwarela. Buhle Mbonambi speaks to the actress
The roles of strong women on local TV are not common. The women in our shows are almost always the pawns in a bigger chess game. It’s like they are an afterthought, or heck, the rose between the two thorns caught up in some battle for male supremacy.
But with Thola, on SABC 2, Thursdays at 7.30pm, you find Dibuseng Makwarela, who has gone from being a kept woman, to a woman looking for answers in a huge corruption scheme.
Everything seems stacked against her. She has lost everything, starting with her husband, whose bad choices are the reason she’s going through all of this; her best friend, who betrayed her by carrying on an affair with her husband and her mother, who was accustomed to a life of luxury and can now only travel by train.
She’s even lost her daughter, who lashes out at her for supposedly ruining her life.
Dibuseng has resorted to being a maid just to find out the truth about her husband and the construction cartel he was involved in. All this while being a mother who provides for her children. As her world turns upside down, her children also have to adapt to a new life, one in which their mother is paranoid, jumpy and suspicious of everything.
Watching Nthati Moshesh on the show is like watching a volcano erupting. It’s as though she has been hungry for a role so complex and so meaty that she delivers it with such gusto that you can’t help but be drawn in – you want to help Dibuseng fight her enemies.
I guess it helps that the show is written by another woman, Marina Bekker. She has the sensitivities that are needed for a character such as Dibuseng. That strong, yet sensitive maternal woman, who Nthati plays with aplomb.
When I finally got hold of Nthati after weeks of trying, she’d just wrapped up shooting her new series Saints and Sinners, which has recently begun airing. Here’s what she had to say about her role on Thola, how the character has made her think about society, the industry and her dream role.
I think yours has been one of the best performances I’ve seen in local TV this year.
Oh thank you. I suppose if you look at my work, it’s been very dramatic roles for many years. From Home Affairs and Scandal to Thola and now, also Saints and Sinners on Mzansi Magic.
You just made me think that I’m the go-to actress for dramatic roles. (Laughs). Even in theatre! Oh Buhle! Maybe it’s time I look for a less intense role.
In all seriousness, though, I enjoyed telling Dibuseng’s story and it’s great how the feedback has been from viewers and critics.
Dibuseng goes from pampered society housewife to paranoid mother, trying to keep it all together. What’s going on in her head?
She’s stressed. But so are all mothers. It may be an extreme situation, but all mothers are trying to keep it together.
Dibuseng’s life is a lot like many women out there: unemployed and single, with children to look after. Just because she is a formerly wealthy woman, does class make her struggle different? I don’t think so.
We’ve seen her go from this glamorous image to an ordinary-looking person, how was the change in the character?
I loved it! (Laughs) I’m a natural-hair person and that weave was very irritating and hot. I loved going from this glamorous woman who lunches and has an expensive weave, to an everyday woman.
As much as it’s a tragic time for Dibuseng, it has made her reconnect with her true self and, most importantly, her sister Dieketseng (Harriet Manamela), whose simple life she comes to respect, especially since it has no drama.
With all her material wealth taken away from her, does anything give her joy? Hope?
I think it’s her search for the truth, and her children. Her search for the truth is why she’s so paranoid about everything and weirdly enough, it gives her purpose in life. She wants to find out the truth so she can be set free and go on with her life.
Whether that will actually happen, I don’t know.
Her children are also a big part of her search for the truth. Like her son. He’s always positive when she feels like everything is against her.
Who does she trust?
Her sister. She is the only one she can be honest with and she trusts her with her life. From having a strained relationship, to being virtually best friends in a space of a few weeks.
You surprised many when you left Scandal.
The thing about being in a soapie is that you play the same character for a long time. I needed a challenge, to be in a new space and to do new work.
What are your thoughts on the state of TV drama in SA?
I think we are on the right track. We are telling edgier stories because the viewer is exposed to so much of content out there that we have to improve.
I still believe it lies with broadcasters. We need funding from the powers that be to make our industry viable. And yes, I understand that it’s cheaper to import foreign shows, but who will tell our stories?
Do you have a dream role that you’d still want to play?
Not really. I just want to keep working. I’m really a working actress. My icons are Judi Dench and Mary Thwala. They are constantly working and I want to be like them.
So can we expect a second season of Thola?
I don’t know. It all depends on the channel really. We shot the first season last November – nearly a year ago. But I really hope we do because the viewers love this show.
This article first appeared in the 24 August 2014 issue of the Sunday Tribune SMtv