We started off as professional strangers. But 10 minutes into my tête-à-tête with Sisanda Henna, the interview evolved into banter session; reminiscent of friends catching up after ages.
That is the best way I can describe my chat with this household face, who is also respected for his behind the scenes contribution as a producer, director and blossoming scriptwriter.
The 38 year old actor is currently in e.tv’s flagship youthful soapie, Rhythm City. A refreshing sight for fans, I’m sure!
First, we played catch-up on what’s keeping this multi-faceted talent busy.
He tells me, “The financial side, I dropped a few years ago. It’s been mostly acting and producing. I still love writing, even if I’m storylining. That I enjoy a lot, as well as scriptwriting.”
In case you are wondering, there is a difference between the two stages of writing. The first part involves formulating the idea.
That said, he’s also occupied the director’s chair for e.tv’s telenovela Gold Diggers, Mzansi Magic’s Greed & Desire as well as SABC2’s comedy, Gauteng Maboneng 2.
He recalls, “Two years of directing telenovelas, Gold Diggers and then Greed & Desire, I spent time behind the monitor, behind the camera, with scripts, directing actors on set and in the edit suite.
The more I saw these unbelievable performances, the fire in me as an actor, was being re-ignited.”
“That inspired me to say, ‘Sisa dude, what you really really love, your number one’.
And it kept coming up: acting,” Henna adds.
With his mind made up and the actor within aching to return in front of the camera, he asked a dialogue coach he knew to give him a few lessons and, shortly thereafter, started attending auditions.
Given the years of experience under his belt, he probably didn’t need any “refresher” lessons but Henna is one of those people that strives for excellence. He is all about authenticity as a performer.
It also made him take a trip down memory lane, where this mindset was inculcated right at the outset of his career.
He reveals, “I was one of the leads in Tsha Tsha. I won an award for my role too. My character lived in the rural areas. He was really really poor. He was a gardener/handyman. But he was also an amazing dancer. I was in my final year at tech and I was studying IT. My parents were convinced that I must study something that would secure me a job as this acting thing might not pay me.
This was many years ago. They are my number one fan now.”
Henna continues, “One of the guys who worked on campus had these army boots. But they were worn out. I remember buying new ones for my character and I got this guy to swap his for mine. We also swapped my new overalls with his old one.
When I tried them on, there was this hole under my boot and something in my character clicked. It felt real. Those days remind me of this hunger and passion that I now feel more powerful than ever.
It was a natural approach to method acting before I even knew what it was.”
Post the first season, he started taking dance lessons (and he couldn’t dance to save his life initially) and became so proficient that he made his double redundant by the time they got to to season two.
This brings us to Sizwe a role he is excited about playing in Rhythm City.
He explains, “Oh man, this guy is fascinating. He is a photojournalist, who managed to get in the front line of the war zone when he got his first break and went to Afghanistan.
People that take on these jobs are crazy to begin with. He loves the adrenalin rush. I think he is also semi self-destructive and he isn’t fully conscious of it. He also has a little kid. He was married before. He turns for a 10 year reunion, hoping to see if he can find Lerato, a girl he was in love with in high school. He wants to see if he can make that happen.”
Of course, the road to love (in the soap world) is bound to be a bumpy one.
But fans will enjoy watching these two navigate their way past challenges that arise.”
As someone on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry, Henna has spotted potential within the VOD services available like ShowMax and Netflix.
This platform celebrates and houses more risqué and philosophical ideas.What this space to find out more about what he will soon be contributing to this fast-growing medium.