HITMAKER: Kwesta appears as himself in the new series.Picture: Zwelizwe Ndlovu
THE highly anticipated fifth season of MTV Shuga, filmed in South Africa for the first time, has revealed its new cast.

The star-studded line-up for MTV Shuga Down South includes local hip hop star Kwesta, Nigerian Afro-pop diva Seyi Shay, as well as a host of established names and new faces.

The series, which is an international hit, has courted controversy in the past for its frank representations of sexual subject matter.

It has also provided a launch pad for stardom, with Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o having made her acting debut in this series.

Set partially in Braamfontein, the series will chronicle the lives of young South Africans who are searching for their place in the world while fighting off temptation and societal pressures.

The Ngud hitmaker Kwesta and Seyi Shay will be making appearances as themselves in the new series, which premieres on March 8.

“I basically cameo on two episodes,” said Kwesta.

“I’m in the studio helping a character called Bongi out with a song she’s doing, so I pretty much play myself more than anything.”

As a first time actor, Kwesta seems very chuffed about his role in the series.

“I really enjoyed acting. I am not much of an actor, but it was really dope. I have a couple of lines, so I’m not just showing my face and pressing buttons, I am actually acting for those two episodes, so I just hope I didn’t do too badly.”

Adding further star power to the cast are actor and presenter Phila Mazibuko and child star Given Stuurman - who first made a name for himself when he starred in a Postbank advertisement as a little boy many years ago.

In the ad, Given tells the father of a girl he fancies that he can’t pay lobola as he’s still young, so he will provide packets of steak to him every month instead.

In Shuga, Stuurman plays a character called Reggie - a teenage boy who, he claims, is going to create quite a stir.

“He is the character that changes a lot of social ideas of what a teenage boy should be and for me, it’s going to shock a lot of people because Reggie is telling a story that has never been told before,” he said.

The casting process for Shuga also gave previously undiscovered talent the chance to prove their mettle. In an open audition held in October last year, the producers decided on Samkelisiwe Makhoba.

She plays the character Khensani Chauke, a 15-year-old girl from Soweto.

“I’m new to this thing (acting) - I was found at the open auditions, so it’s my first time doing this,” she said.

“I was thrown in the deep with this character who experiences a roller coaster of emotions. I had to just jump in there and do it all at once and it’s been amazing so far, with a lot of learning along the way.”

Makhoba’s quest for stardom meant a long wait in the queue of hopefuls, but her perseverance paid off.

According to Georgia Arnold, executive director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, the idea to film Shuga in South Africa had been on the radar for a “long time”.

“For me, it’s really exciting, because we’ve been planning to get to South Africa for a long time.

“Since we started, we always had this plan to go from Kenya where we discovered Lupita Nyong’o - it was her very first acting series - we feel like we were part of her Oscar win, we take a little bit of ownership with that,” she said.

“So we moved from there (Kenya), we moved to Nigeria and we’ve always wanted to come to South Africa and I think one of the things we’ve done (to signal this) is by calling MTV Shuga ‘Down South’.

“We’re really sort of giving it a South African label and heart as well, so we can tackle some issues that culturally we may not have discussed in Kenya or Nigeria,” she added.