LOVE TRIANGLE: Niki Bongco (Nolo Phiri) is hoping Suffocate will reciprocate her feelings now that she is carrying his baby in Rhythm City.

When it comes to a chequered past, Rhythm City’s Niki Bongco (played by Nolo Phiri) ticks all the boxes. She has gone from conning Miles Vilakazi to stupidly attempting to seduce David Genaro – only to emerge crushed. Now she is pregnant with Suffocate’s baby. Was this another con, or does she really love him? Debashine Thangevelo caught up with Phiri to find out if Niki has reached a turning point in her life.

IT has become difficult for people to see the good in Niki Bongco (Nolo Phiri). And every time some misguided do-gooder gives her the benefit of the doubt, Niki’s cunning and deviousness sets them straight.

She is a survivor and relies on her street smarts to get by. It has served her well… until now. Niki has fallen in love with Suffocate, who has reunited with Puleng.

Even worse, Niki and Suffocate’s one-night stand has resulted in her falling pregnant.

Talk about complicated – such are the scandalously dramatic curve balls in soaps.

Interestingly, Phiri embraced motherhood last year and, aside from being completely smitten with her baby boy, she relates to her character’s plight better, although their circumstances are poles apart.

On being a mom, she reveals: “It is amazing and so tiring. You know, it helps that they are cute. I don’t know if it is because he is a boy, specifically, but he is a bit of a tiger.

“What is beautiful, though, is that I’m starting to look at the world through his eyes. It’s just such a blessing.”

The actress who was born in Limpopo continues: “I’m happy that I had the experience first-hand, so I could tap into that and add a bit of dynamism and truth to the character. Obviously, our stories and circumstances are completely different. That is, I suppose, where the challenge lies – marrying my experience to hers.”

Earlier this month, Niki freaked out when she was told about her bun in the oven. Just as she was warming up to the idea that she and Suffocate could finally be a family, she received another bombshell – he had rekindled his romance with Puleng. Ouch!

Of her character’s emotional state, Phiri says: “Niki becomes very selfish. We see her fighting for what she thinks she deserves. The whole process of finding out she is pregnant changes how she looks at herself. Also, she has lost her job and practically everything. She also starts to realise, of the people around her, who is willing to support her. She is looking at how the father of her baby is in a completely different space as his heart lies with another woman. And she is looking at how she can use this (situation) to bring him closer.”

While she would love nothing more than to have a picture-perfect future with Suffocate, Niki conceals her true feelings in the face of his reunion.

“He says, ‘I’m with another woman, but I will support you’. And that is when she realises she isn’t happy with that agreement.”

Phiri continues: “I expected Niki to be a bit dark about the situation. That is what she does when pushed into a corner.

“But I think because this is such a new experience, despite her being so street smart, she was more calculating than dark.”

Although she harbours this huge resentment towards Puleng, under different circumstances, the two could have been BFFs.

The actress notes: “I think Niki admires Puleng for her sincerity and the woman she is. She sort of looks up to her and respects her.”

As for re-enacting those craving-filled, emotionally sensitive stages of a pregnancy again, she laughs: “I’m so excited, mainly because I hated my pregnancy. It was the most horrible experience: my body changed, I went three tones darker and had pimples. It felt like I was being invaded. Now that I have gone back to myself, I want to recreate the experience for Niki to enjoy it.”

Is Niki’s pregnancy a turning point for the better?

Hmm, I guess viewers will have to wait and see. After all, Niki is proving rather cunning in her pursuit of Suffocate. And, in her books, the end seems to justify the means!

• Rhythm City airs on on weekdays at 6.30pm.