Being the lead in the midst of all these great people was amazing. Every moment was a learning curve.
The singer-actress is a wonderful mix of talented, hungry and vivacious. And she has that sought-after cover-girl look.
In fact, the 20-something initially found herself in the spotlight as a contestant in season one of Clash of the Choirs South Africa and this year made some noise on Idols SA.
She also proved her mettle with compelling performances as Zwi in Uzalo and as Nandi Nkabinde in The Alliance.
This brings us to her plum role as Khanyisile Khumalo in She is King, a musical drama that follows the trials and tribulations of a star in the making.
“I played Mxolisi’s girlfriend in Uzalo. I think that’s where the people started liking me. Then I did The Alliance and now the movie.”
Shedding more light on her movie character, she reveals, “Khanyisile is from KwaZulu-Natal. She hears about an audition in Johannesburg and wants to try out for it. And she follows her dream. Of course, there are many challenges along the way.
Her father isn’t in support of her going. She doesn’t have a place to stay after her audition. And there are relationship problems, too.”
The premise is centred on Khanyisile’s rags-to-riches journey after she bags a role in a new musical stage production and happens to attract the attention of the best-looking dancer - a soap star named Luyanda (played by Mbuso Kgarebe). This doesn’t sit well with the leading lady and so the obstacles abound.
There are many reasons why Zulu is thrilled about this movie. Aside from it being her first feature film, she is working with big names like Mike Mvelase, Sophie Ndaba, Aubrey Poo, Khabonina Qubeka and Khanyi Mbau.
“Oh my word, it was really amazing,” she enthuses. “You would think because they are such prominent actors and actresses that they would treat me differently. It was the opposite. They welcomed me and we worked well together.”
She made special mention of director Gersh Kgamedi and producer Nicola Rauch, who helped her get into the skin of her character.
“I’ve never worked with a director and producer who pushed me,” she says. “They would take time to explain the emotions needed for a scene. My director brought the best out of me in this movie. The whole shoot was pretty memorable for me. And being the lead in the midst of all these great people was amazing. Every moment was a learning curve.”
Although Zulu is loving her time in front of the camera, she is also pushing her music career as part of The Nameless Band, an Afro-pop group. They launched their The Greatest Hits release a few months ago.
Back to her movie character: she says Khanyisile’s “fashion disaster to fashionasta” wardrobe reflects her rags-to-riches journey.
“At first, she doesn’t have any fashion sense,” Zulu explains. “She doesn’t even care about wearing a bra. She’s a village girl. She goes from really drab to fab to fit into Joburg. A lot of people can relate to her, as there are dreams crushed and dreams made every day.”
As for what she will be wearing to Thursday’s movie premiere in Joburg, she admits: “Oh my Lord, I’m not sure. I still have to figure that one out. It has to be a beautiful dress, something elegant and sexy.”
Her date? That would be her proud mum and entire family.
“It’s going to be a family thing,” she laughs.
She is King has been described as Smash-meets-The Lion King.
* And there is plenty of star-clout to ensure foot traffic in theatres when the movie is released in December.