‘The Wife’ star Kwenzo Ngcobo on starting out in theatre, the price of fame and joining the telenovela

Kwenzo Ngcobo plays Zulu taxi driver Qhawe Zulu while Gaisang K Noge plays Tswana doctor Naledi Montsho. Picture: Supplied

Kwenzo Ngcobo plays Zulu taxi driver Qhawe Zulu while Gaisang K Noge plays Tswana doctor Naledi Montsho. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 27, 2022


The third and final season of “The Wife” has picked up right where it left off. The multi award-winning Showmax Original telenovela returned earlier this month and, as usual, has been the topic of conversation on social media since.

The new season centres around two star-crossed lovers; Tswana doctor Naledi Montsho (played by Gaisang K Noge) and Zulu taxi driver Qhawe Zulu (played by Kwenzo Ngcobo).

Naledi and Qhawe’s instant chemistry set Twitter alight in season 2, and their relationship is once again at the centre of the new season.

Ngcobo, who recently won DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Favourite Rising Star, has relished working on the new season.

“It’s been fun bro, it’s been amazing. Meeting a new family as well has been refreshing because you get to know new people and play with them. It’s just been amazing,” he says.

With Ngcobo as its face, “The Wife” has become the most viewed series ever on the streaming platform and has earned several awards since its debut.

Ngcobo's career in the industry started off with him working on theatre productions in 2013, before he moved into short films in 2015. Over the past few years he’s also done adverts and scored occasional roles on television too.

After years of maintaining a low profile, “The Wife” has swiftly turned him into a national star.

“This show was my breakthrough because it’s just so huge,” he says. “Everybody loves it. So, coming from theatre, and I love theatre a lot because it’s so much fun because people appreciate your craft, but you’re not famous there.

“They don’t take pictures of you. With this one, I’m grateful but the package that comes with it is challenging at times. You just need to adjust.”

Asked to expand on this “package” and what challenges it comes with, he says: “The fame. You’re not free now, per se. I don’t know how to put it, but people expect you to be someone else in a way.”

To navigate his newfound stardom, Ngcobo is intentional about being humble, working hard at his craft and avoiding comparing himself to others. Those are values he reminds himself of, on a daily basis.

“Just be humble. Don’t forget where you come from. Work hard and just do your best and try to improve everyday and learn. If you’re humble enough, you’ll give yourself an opportunity to learn from other artists as well because this game is not about competition,” he says.

“There’s no way you can compete with another actress or actor because we’re coming together to collaborate and to tell this story. You come with your narrative and I come with a different narrative and then we create magic.

“So there’s no way that we’re competing. Instead, just learn from the person that you’re working with and also from the director. It’s a very beautiful thing that we’re doing…

“It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s about the story that we’re telling to the people.”

Kwenzo Ngcobo plays Zulu taxi driver Qhawe Zulu. Picture: Supplied

Despite being one of the country’s most prominent stars, Ngcobo is still adamant about maintaining a low profile. While adjusting to fame has not been easy, it’s something he’s learning to take in his stride.

Given his background in theatre, he’s also been steadily adjusting to the difference in how things work on set.

“Coming from theatre, it’s a huge difference. The way they operate on sets and the way you prepare is different, so you have to adapt to a few things. It’s also shot in-studio so everything is calculated.”

In stark contrast, his work in theatre relies heavily on improvisation.

“On location and coming from theatre, you’re given more freedom. And from shooting in the studio, it’s more calculated, so it’s a very different way to work around, but it’s interesting because you learn different things,” he says.

As far as the show’s success is concerned, Ngcobo credits the book that it’s based on, which was written by Dudu Busani-Dube, for laying the foundation for such a compelling story.

“I think Sis Dudu has done an amazing job creating this story, and people fell in love with the story because, while it’s fantasy at the end of the day, people were just mind blown because they can relate to it at times.

“There are so many things that if you read the book will amaze you at how Sis Dudu created this world and how she’s telling this story in this world. People really relate to this book and I think that’s why the show is big.”

Ngcobo adds that he personally relates on a deeper level because his dad is a taxi owner in KZN.

The dynamics between the Tswana people (Gaisang’s family) and the Zulu nation (his family) is the defining sub-plot that truly gives this new season its juice.

Watching all this unfold on screen and working with Tswana talent has been an eye-opening experience for Ngcobo.

“It’s two people who are in love -- one is Zulu and the other one Tswana. It’s so beautiful to see different nations come together and fall in love and just unite different nations,” he says.

“That unity is very special and it's such a beautiful way of living as humans as well.

“I think Tswana people coming into this show made it so special. Working with them has been so amazing and I’m trying to push myself to learn Tswana as well.”

“The Wife” season 3 is streaming on Showmax.