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TO SW Lehasa ETCH

Sparks are flying between Nikki (Nolo Phiri) and Mongezi Oliphant (Lehasa Moloi) in e.tv’s Rhythm City. However, the marketing manager’s old-school courting style clashes with her liberal approach to dating. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with Moloi and found out if there is a likelihood the two will find some common ground and start dating…

WHEN it comes to the soapie genre, Lehasa Moloi has always been cast in a corporate environment. In SABC2’s Muvhango, he played Kutlwano, a sort of PA in a storyline that involved Meme and KK. And in SABC3’s Isidingo, he played Khaya Gumede, a dashing lawyer looking for his father.

Of the latter role, he shares: “That was a wonderful experience, but short-lived. It was three months long. They were going through a time of transition. A lot of the old actors were being phased out. My character was linked to one of them – Lesedi.”

Once again he finds himself in the business world as Mongezi Oliphant, a marketing manager. He was offered the role on the back of the auditions he did in 2010.

“It came out of the blue, but it was a great surprise. I auditioned twice for Rhythm City. The first was an open casting audition and the second was for Bash [a role that went to Siphiwe Mtshali]. They got hold of my agent. I started shooting at the end of July, early August.”

The 25-year-old continues: “It was actually about the same time I starting shooting Mgongo, my music, entertainment and gadget show on e.tv on Wednesdays. With the soap also being part of the e.tv brand, the two roles complemented each other.”

Although there are traits of Mongezi’s that he relates to, there are differences, too.

Moloi explains: “I wouldn’t say he is introverted. He holds women in high regard. I grew up with my mom, a single parent, and her sis- ters, who helped raise me. So that part I identify with on a personal level. Mongezi is also a young mining tycoon type. That is somewhat removed from where I am. Although I do understand the fiscal world as I was in financial services not too long ago, but I got rid of the corporate shackles,” he says with a laugh.

However, the entrepreneurial side hasn’t been shut out completely. Moloi is working on starting a production company – as is the trend with actors these days.

He rationalises: “There is no point in waiting for the industry to dish you scraps.”

Back to his character’s storyline, where, during his debut on screen last week, Mongezi found himself enamoured with Nikki after seeing her at Ivan’s birthday party at 011. Drawn to her feistiness, he was also thrown by her modern approach to dating.

“It isn’t so much about him wanting to be the hunter and not the hunted. He really doesn’t have a problem with a woman putting her best foot forward. He simply wants to go through the courting process as opposed to the new age wham-bam-thank-you-Ma’am approach. His attraction isn’t skin-deep,” he reveals.

While he is the perfect gentleman and an all-around nice guy with a great sense of humour, Mongezi is no pushover. And that’s a lesson Nikki has learnt.

With the storyline still in its infancy, its longevity has yet to be decided on.

However, Moloi couldn’t be happier to be working with a professional outfit like Rhythm City.

“It is one of the easiest sets. They have a high level of professionalism. Everything works like clockwork and everyone is very accommo- dating for the ‘rhythm citizens’. It is lovely the way they allow for freedom of the actors to embody the character. The directors and writers know exactly what they want in each scene.”

As for working alongside Phiri, Moloi offers: “It was effortless doing our scenes. It was seamless the way we gelled.”

Fingers crossed his character gels as well with fans to ensure his return. After all, Nikki deserves better than to be stuck with a controlling David Genaro!

• Rhythm City airs on e.tv at 6.30pm on weekdays.


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