TSHIDI Vera was lured out of her acting hibernation by Muvhango. In fact, creator and executive producer Duma Ndlovu also spoke of her casting with much reverence.
In chatting to the actress last week, I understood his affection for her.
Vera, who is well travelled and loves Italy, has a down-to-earth likeability. And she is confident in all she does, whether it is in the fashion or acting realms.
That explains why she was headhunted to play Moriti, the matriarch of the Mojalefa family. Her husband is Lerumo and they have two children – along with his first-born, Phatudi Junior, whom he had with Thandiwe.
On her sabbatical from TV, Vera reveals: “I wanted to run my own fashion design company. But I have been doing stints on the production side and numerous voiceovers for radio.”
To give a quick overview of her backstory, Moriti and Thandiwe were best friends and she was privy to Thandiwe’s romance with Lerumo since university and the birth of their love child, Phathudi Junior. Lerumo and Thandiwe eventually married, but their happiness was short-lived as she died in a car accident. So Moriti stepped in to help with Phathudi and that was the catalyst in Lerumo and her getting together.
Of course, now she has to contend with him taking a second wife – Khomotjo (Lerumo’s brother’s widow) – as is their tradition.
Of the character, she shares: “When I look at her, it touches some of my life. She is kind, caring and a family-oriented person. She is also a no-nonsense businesswoman.”
On returning the limelight, she smiles: “Acting has always been my first love. Coming back is an honour and a privilege. In the beginning of my career, it was the acting that opened the door to what I’m doing right now.”
As for sharing a lot of screen time alongside Rami Chuene (Kgomotso), she says: “Of course, she is my rival (in the storyline). I know Rami because we have been doing voice- over work for years. With John Morapama (Lerumo), we worked on a previous drama series, so it is very easy working with them. I must not forget my daughter on set, Mangwashe. We are a close- knit family – and loud.
“The person I’m new to is Phathudi (played by Melusi Yeni), who is a doctor. We have bonded. He still addresses me as ‘mum’ off the set.”
As for what sets Moriti apart from the others, she offers: “She is not like Thandaza or Thuli. You wouldn’t dress her like either of them. She is a mother: composed and respectable. A woman who knows her place.”
Of course, when the cameras are switched off, Vera is more chilled, but retains that nurturing trait. She loves cooking up a storm in the kitchen and baking.
She laughs: “I’m a good host. I like more than 10 to 20 people around. That’s from my childhood. I am a very warm person. My signature dish is lamb and pap with spinach. I also love baking bread, cookies and scones.”
Before she dashed off, she hints there is much drama to follow.
“Moriti is going to fight for her family – especially with Kgomotso. And she will make sure her stepson chooses the right wife-to-be. And she is determined to get to the bottom of who or what is troubling her husband. She is tough and ready to fight any threat to her family,” she teases.
Looks like it is a win-win situation for Vera and Muvhango!