How does one measure a talent for acting? Is it the number of roles they get?
The awards they receive for their roles? Or is it about their range and versatility? I always settle on the latter and, in that case, Brenda Ngxoli is talented.
Put her in any role and she gives her all. She’s played all kinds of women on TV: Vuyo, the champion athlete who has a difficult life at home in Home Affairs; the overzealous and girly Mimi in Tsha Tsha, the hilarious Pinky in Ses’Top La; the gossipy alcoholic, Gladys, in Rockville; Kitt Khambule, a fallen music star trying to get back to the top, in Hustle; and the scam artist Dambisa in "The River".
And then there’s Nomonde in iThemba, for which she recently won her third SAFTA, this time for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama.
She has now been cast on Mzansi Magic's hit soapie, "The Queen" . She will play Noma Princess ‘Noma’ Matshikiza, an associate of Connie Ferguson's Harriet Khoza. She owes her a multi-million rand debt and this baggage weighs heavily on her.
The actress took to Twitter to announce her new role on the show.
— Brenda Ngxoli 🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦 (@Ngxoli)
In 2015, Ngxoli took a sabbatical from the entertainment industry. She left it all to go back to the Eastern Cape and became a farmer, even herding cattle herself.
On that time away, she said: “Every single step and choice in decisions we make governs and greatly influences who we
But the industry missed her and so, she answered the call from TV’s super producers, Phathu Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon of Tshedza Pictures. The role was Dambisa in The River.
“I was back sooner than I’d anticipated and that’s thanks to Tshedza Pictures,” she said. “The continued love that I received could not keep me away forever.”
In iThemba, which is streaming on Showmax, Ngxoli's role as Nomonde once again shows her range as a performer.
Nomonde is the breadwinner in her family and has put her ambitious sister through tertiary education. She is also involved in a murderous religious cult. It is only when her sister, Philiswa, is evicted from her flat that she realises that there might be trouble afoot.
“Nomonde challenged me as an actor. Like any other character I have portrayed. It was absolutely wonderful to be part of the cast, especially working with the Ngqula sisters (producers, Khayakazi and Nompumelelo).”
The role was also a reunion for her and Vatiswa Ndara, who played her mother in Home Affairs.
“I have the utmost respect for all fellow actors, and Sis Vatiswa in particular is a gem to watch and work with.”
Ngxoli was present at the first Saftas, where she was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama.
“I was nominated at the first Saftas for Vuyo,” she reminisces.
“I then spent several years sitting in the front row at awards shows. Being nominated and people screaming, expecting me to win and it not happening. I have been nominated nine times for a SAFTA and have won three times.”
When she did finally win for the first time, in 2015, for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Drama and Best Supporting Actress in a TV Comedy, for Rockville and Ses'Top she wasn’t at the ceremony. The National Film and Video Foundation presented the awards to her when she next in Joburg.
Winning, she says, is important because it’s the industry showing she's appreciated.
“Winning reminds me how great and wonderful God is. And that with hard work, there are many tangible rewards. Appreciation and acknowledgement is always valued. I deeply appreciate the love. I receive it and will never take it for granted.”
Asked if she has a role she hankers for, Ngxoli was coy,
saying that any role for her was
Does she dream of ever portraying a lawyer, a character she hasn’t done?
“There are billions of souls and stories on Earth, and it would be any honour to excellently execute any one of them.”