Rom-com series a labour of love

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TO wandile

E.tv has expanded its home-grown repertoire by venturing into the widely appealing allure of the Nollybook novels with its Mzansi Love: Kasi Style series. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with actors Anthony Oseyemi and Wandile Molebatsi to find out about their respective romantic roles…

ROMANCE is an easy sell whether it is as a novel, a stage production, a movie or a TV series. e.tv has decided to explore the TV platform and was savvy enough to do so with a bankable idea – exploiting the appeal of the Nollybook “chick literature”.

The six-part Mzansi Love: Kasi Style series, which starts on Monday, looks at modern dating as experienced by its young, professional and savvy female protagonist.

And the dramas cover the gamut of love troubles. There’s a marketing consultant dealing with her first crush, who wears his arrogance like a badge of honour, in Office Games; an aspiring chef who falls for her dashing new boss in Something’s Cooking; a journalist who becomes a bit too involved in her undercover assignment – a wealthy businessman – in Uncovered!; an ambitious designer who turns to her ex for help to keep her fashion house afloat in Your Move!; a journalist completing her masters in journalism who can’t seem to resist her charismatic new lecturer, but it could undo all she has worked for in PHD; and, lastly, a wedding gown designer who decides she also wants to have a fairy tale ending and looks for Mr Right online in Game On!

Tall, dark, handsome, self-assured, irresistibly charming and with a sexy-as-hell-voice to boot, Anthony Oseyemi is perfectly cast in Something’s Cooking.

Having hosted Survivor: Africa and The Model Million$, the 35-year-old has cultivated a sterling acting reputation with the international TV shows Holby City and The Bill as well as the local offerings Shooting Stars and Jacob’s Cross.

“I’m still on Jacob’s Cross. And I’ve just finished shooting another docu-reality series. I’ve also been in Nigeria for Lagos Wedding, Akin Otomoso’s new feature. And I have just completed a new script, Killer Romance, that we will hopefully be shooting at the end of the year,” he says of his schedule.

On bagging a part in Otomoso’s movie, he says: “We’re rehearsing now and start shooting next month. It’s basically about a couple of guys heading to Nigeria, but the people they think they are going to be married too. Well, it isn’t so. It has been a nice process working with Akin as a director.”

By the way, he featured as a Somalian warlord in the first two episodes of Strike Back, which started on M-Net last month.

Interestingly, he got wind of the auditions for Mzansi Love: Kasi Style via a work acquaintance. With nothing to lose, Oseyemi threw in his oar and bagged the part of Daniel Akila, the new boss at a top hotel restaurant.

“I love good comedy,” the actor admits. “Daniel is a very nice character. I can empathise with him. The character was raised in Nigeria, lived a hard life, did some army time, ended up in England cooking. Then he came to SA to start his own business. He wants a new life. I really like these kinds of characters who go out there and strive to achieve their dreams.”

On his character’s brewing romance, he laughs: “That comes through in the kitchen, which is his kingdom. And then there is this new young trainee. When they first meet, it doesn’t get off to the best start – she spills coffee all over him. He thinks she is an imbecile.”

Oseyemi reckons viewers will revel in the series because “it’s the tale as old as time”.

“Rom-coms are all about seeing how the couple get together… or not. And it also shows some of the ridiculous things we do. I have done some crazy things because of a woman. I once walked into a lamp post.”

And the actor is quite the romantic in real-life.

He laughs: “If I work my mojo, you are going to be mojoed. I have to be in love. That is the key. I like a strong woman who knows her mind and I love chasing.”

The actor’s world travels have taught him much about women and wooing – and he gets to tap into that for his role.

Meanwhile, the affable Wandile Molebatsi, better known as Blessing in M-Net’s The Wild, features in Game On.

A while back, he played up-and-coming singer Samuel Sedibeng on e.tv’s Rhythm City. Sadly, his character was killed off.

As for his time on The Wild, the actor praises: “The writing team is amazing and it is very unlike a soap storyline. We shoot on location, dealing with the wind and rain. It is really awesome. And I get to kiss Minnie Dlamini.”

Meanwhile, he is also promoting his movie, A Million Colours, based on the life of Muntu Ndebele from E-lollipop and Skeem.

On landing the role of Kagiso in e.tv’s new series, he says: “Actually, I just went in for the auditions like the other plebs. The director called my agent and we were able to beg a few days off The Wild to shoot this.”

Of his character, Molebatsi shares: “He is a vet. My mum is going to be happy about that. He loses his fiancée early on and is heartbroken. Then he meets Cassandra, his neighbour. They are perfect for each other, but circumstances get in the way.”

The actor says what anchors the drama is the fact that it isn’t a typical rom-com and “you can buy into the fact that these two people can fall in love”.

I joke about him making quite a impression with the ladies these days.

Molebatsi laughs: “I’m getting around as an actor. That is the great thing – you can pretend you are a Casanova, but in real-life the girls think you are a walking idiot.”

Love might make fools of them, but damn, it also makes for some good, sappy rom-coms.

• e.tv’s Mzansi Love: Kasi Style series kicks off on Tuesday, July 31, at 8.30pm.


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