Every soap has to have a supreme bitch. In Mzansi Magic’s Isibaya, Iris Ramofilwe Zungu (Mampho Brescia) is it. But, after wielding so much power, especially when it came to manipulating hubby Mpiyakhe, the gold-digger finds herself cash-strapped. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with the talented actress to find out about Iris’s indiscretions coming home to roost…

SECRETS and lies are some of the crucial components in a soap. They propel the storyline and add a nice twist.

And it’s even better (for those seeking vengeance) when these buried nuggets of information topple out of the closet. Of course,

it isn’t so nice for the person being outed, like Isibaya’s Iris Ramofilwe Zungu (Mampho Brescia, pictured).

Aside from her affair with Jackson (Tumisho Masha), Iris’s slyness has also seen her get her hands on part of the Zungu taxi business.

But Mpiyakhe’s (Siyabonga Twala) return from the dead hasn’t boded well for the suburban housewife-cum-businesswoman.

For the entire first season of Mzansi Magic’s soap, which started out as a telenovela, Iris was pegged as a woman who relied on her feminine wiles to get what she wanted.

All that power she has blissfully revelled in has been taken away now that Mpiyakhe has been educated on her debauched ways. After being thrown out of their swish home, she moves in with her cousin and turns to Bhekifa (Vusi Kunene) for help.

On Iris’s unfortunate state of affairs, Brescia says, “As an actor, I thought it was an exciting arc. You get to know who the character is and what brought them to the place they are at. Nobody just does things. It was a great acting challenge for me as Iris wasn’t hiding behind the make-up, clothes and luxurious life.”

Leaving behind that designer wardrobe wasn’t easy for Iris, though. The actress agrees. “She couldn’t pack her stuff when she left. So she had to make do with what she could. Her cousin’s pants and clothes are so not her style.

Not being in that world she was accustomed to is a huge blow.”

Funnily enough, she was starting to fall in love with her hubby all over again.

As for how she feels about Mpiyakhe given their separation, Brescia says, “Her reasoning (or defence) for cheating was that he was never at home and he had other wives. And then when she saw he was dead, her survival instinct kicked in and she ‘moved on’. Iris is upset because he doesn’t get her.”

This is where things get interesting with her turning to Bhekifa. She notes, “Iris sort of discovers, ‘This guy gets me.’ Even with the stuff that she considers to be bad. With Mpiyakhe she had to be someone else – someone really good. With Bhekifa, she can be herself.”

But is getting into bed with Bhekifa, so to speak, a smart idea?

“She is not afraid of danger. In fact, she is a risk taker and danger is quite thrilling for her. That is probably why she got bored with Mpiyake before. He was always the hero. To her, she thinks the downtrodden are beneath her. And the new chief uses his power to get what she wants. Basically, she is willing to go where few men will.”

Bhekifa, of course, has ulterior motives for keeping Iris in his good graces – she has a little secret that will change the dynamics once Mpiyake finds out.

Having worked her way up the social strata from being a domestic worker, Iris is an opportunist.

However, her actions are spurred on by her past. Although it might not completely redeem her, it does shed light on her deviousness.

Brescia says, “What’s important is you never judge your character. I think there is no one person who is completely bad. It is interesting to see why she is doing this and what her motivation is – to see what’s at stake for her.”

That she gets to act alongside giants like Kunene and Twala makes her envied among actresses.

She says with a laugh, “I would envy me, too. It makes such a difference to your performance when you’re engaging with actors like this. Working with Siyabonga and Vusi has only elevated my ability as an actor; even working with Tumisho and the other young actors, who have brought such a vibrant energy.

“I love Vusi. He is a guy with depth and integrity. I love his passion for his work and his respect for it and his peers. He is so grounded. I love having conversations with him about the world – he has so much knowledge that I just want to feed off him.”

If you thought Iris was nothing more than a cold and calculated bitch, an upcoming development unveils a nurturing

side to her. Who knew.

• Isibaya airs on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) on weekdays at 8.30pm.