The media frenzy around Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube’s Isidingo debut a few years ago was insane. This was followed by more hype as she ventured into comedy with her sister in Mzansi Magic’s It’s for Life. But her name hasn’t been mentioned much since. Debashine Thangevelo found out what she has been up to while chatting about her soapie comeback in e.tv’s Rhythm City…
AS an entertainment journo, there are actors you find charismatic and those you just can’t seem to warm up to, however hard you try. For some reason, not personal, though, I found Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube to be of the latter ilk.
Perhaps it was because of my first interaction with her during a telephonic interview about her role as Lesedi Moloi on SABC3’s Isidingo that left me questioning her detached manner. Or it might have stemmed from the run-around she gave me when I tried to chat to her about It’s for Life.
But, sometimes you have to rise above your likes or dislikes. Besides, she agreed to a third interview about her debut on e.tv’s Rhythm City – albeit by e-mail. While she never made my first deadline, Zuma-Ncube did eventually respond.
This story, however, isn’t about the events leading up to the interview, but rather about the president’s daughter’s return to soaps as Zozo. Before exploring her character, though, I asked the actress what she had been doing during her sabbatical from TV.
She responded: “I have been studying and working behind the scenes in various production disciplines, here and abroad.”
On her foray into comedy with It’s for Life, she said: “I loved comedy, it is a difficult genre to get right, but it is a lot of fun. It helps to work with talented people such as my sister. Working with her was a pleasure; it made a stressful experience as the producer of the show much more fun.”
Zuma-Ncube said her agent asked her to audition for the role: “I was informed a week or so later that I was being offered the role.”
Her character has a chequered past; she held a senior position in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) but, during a fraudulent tender debacle, became the fall guy. Embittered, she offered her services to the highest bidder.
She explained: “My character is very mysterious and all is not as it seems when we first meet her. She comes across as very in control, professional and smart, which she is, but as the story develops other more flawed and disturbing characteristics emerge.”
On working with other new-comers to the soap – Lungi Pinda (Enoch, Zozo’s partner) and Pakamisa Zwedala (Fausto) – she offered: “I’d worked with Lungi and Pakamisa a few years ago on Interrogation Room, so it was more of a reunion. I didn’t actually have any scenes with Pakamisa, but I had many with Lungi. We both worked hard, but also played and had fun with our characters and our dynamic in the story.”
As for her return to soaps, she seemed to be loving it.
“It’s lots of fun. Soaps are very structured productions, the hours and the way the production works is very predictable which is a welcome change.”
With the cast and crew very welcoming, Zuma-Ncube was at home on the set of Rhythm City. Come tomorrow night, viewers will see her on screen. She said she didn’t want to raise expectations. She’d rather they “just enjoy the performance and new storyline for what it is”.
“I always give 100 percent, which is something viewers can always look forward to in my work.”
Dramatic, her story arc will be. But it is a brief one. Fortunately, she is busy with several projects – but it was too early to delve into them. Zuma-Ncube is making very calculated decisions in her career. I certainly wish her well!
• Rhythm City airs on e.tv on weekdays at 6.30pm.