Isibaya's Siyabonga Twala and Thembi Nyandeni won outstanding lead actor and actress awards at the first Royalty Soapie Awards. Isibaya swept the boards, picking up 10 awards in 18 nomination categories. Photo: GCINA NDWALANE

WITH 10 wins, Mzansi Magic’s telenovela Isibaya cleaned up at Saturday night’s inaugural Royalty Soapie Awards at the Durban International Convention Centre.

Amid the excitement, there was an understandable amount of tension – as all eyes were noting every aspect of the ceremony for the slightest whiff of a scandal or fault.

But it turned out to be a relatively fluid and polished affair, right from the time the soap fraternity were hero-worshiped by fans, who lined up about three hours before the event, to all the air-kisses and handshakes after the ceremony.

Despite the 20-minute delay, the awards ceremony, co-hosted by the suave and charismatic Hlomla Dandala and Michael Mol, was rather slick – especially with their healthy servings of comic relief.

Only a year on air and Isibaya, produced by The Bomb Shelter, took the honours for outstanding soapie, outstanding lead actor (Siyabonga Twala), outstanding lead actress (Thembi Nyandeni), outstanding directing team, outstanding art direction, outstanding make-up and hair, outstanding writing team, outstanding casting director, outstanding lighting and outstanding editing.

Last week, Mzansi Magic revealed that Isibaya was not ending. Instead, it’s to be turned into a daily soapie.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s leading soap, SABC1’s Generations, got the royal snub – despite bagging 13 nominations.

And SABC2’s 7de Laan scooped three honours – for outstanding supporting actor (Hennie Jacobs), outstanding supporting actress (Annelize van der Ryst) and outstanding newcomer (Simoné Nortmann), while SABC3’s Isidingo clinched the outstanding male villain (Robert Whitehead) and outstanding couple (Tema Sebopedi and Motlatsi Mafatshe as Lerato Tsotetsi and Sechaba Moloi) accolades.

In fact, the crowd went gaga over Sebopedi and Mafatshe’s oh-so-cute speech as they slipped into their screen characters and gave a lovey-dovey performance for their fans.

Other wins on the night went to M-Net’s now-axed soap, The Wild, for outstanding set design and outstanding wardrobe, while kykNET’s Binnelanders got the nod for outstanding female villain.

Vusi Kunene (aka Jefferson Sibeko on Isidingo) and veteran Generations’ actress Nambitha Mpumlwana were among the soap stars presenting awards on the night.

Aside from Ian von Memerty’s tongue-in-cheek song, Mafikozolo were a hit with their two performances – not forgetting Somizi’s dance troupe.

Shaleen Surtie-Richards, who received a lifetime achievement award for her three decades in the industry, gave a stand-out speech.

Dressed in a gorgeous red gown, the seasoned actress’s self-deprecating ageist humour and quip about “this being my real hair” had the crowd in stitches.

At 58, this was the former kindergarten teacher’s 48th award to date.

All in all, it was a night of wins not only for the nominees but for Generations’ actress Winnie Modise, the founder of the Royalty Soapie Awards.

It was a triumphant affair – despite a boycott by’s Scandal and Rhythm City. - The Star


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