Natasha Sutherland

Does Layla (Natasha Sutherland) want to right her wrong for having abandoned Quinton (Brighton Ngoma) as a little boy, or, true to form, is she wanting to get her paws on the inheritance his grandfather has left him? Debashine Thangevelo enjoyed a tête-à-tête with the seasoned actress to find out about her second soap role after The Wild a few months back…

NATASHA Sutherland’s seven-year sabbatical from the television industry ended with a meaty Wilhelmina Slater (Ugly Betty) meets Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada) fashion magazine editor-type role in pay channel M-Net’s The Wild.

And she relished bringing out the powerhouse personality of Rosemary.

“It was great playing her,” she says. “She was like an alter ego and lots of fun. And she had these cracker lines.”

Besides returning to her acting roots, the mother of two boys has (following her divorce from bad boy Steve Hofmeyr) been busy with motivational speaking events, which complement the release of her book, Fairytale – A Quest for Muchness, and her psychology studies at Unisa.

She says: “It is like nothing in my life is done in isolation.

“I think the book has worked in conjunction with the motivational speaking I have been doing across the country.

“Fairytale is about embracing womanhood and how we try to be so many things and lose ourselves along the way. It doesn’t matter if you are a working or stay-at-home mom.

“For me, it is always a privilege to have someone come up and say: ‘I thought I was the only one feeling that way. It is great that I’m not alone’.”

On landing the part of Layla in’s Scandal, Sutherland recalls: “It is one of those beautiful blessings. My agent set me up for the audition.”

Having worked with series producer Ilse van Hemert ages ago, the actress was excited to cross paths with her again – and to slip into the skin of this not-so-maternal character. And she is chuffed to be working with her old friend Louise Barnes (from her Egoli days as Sam Ryan) again.

“At 42, it was great to get the role. What I loved about the character is that she is quite multidimensional. She is very damaged, very emotional. I try to come across as a woman who is trying to wear a social mask but, underneath, is really fragile,” she says.

While Ngoma is classified as a greenhorn, Sutherland felt he was far from it.

“Brighton and I had a big fat laugh when he found out they were casting me to play his mother. He said when he was young, he used to love Kideo – that’s where he remembers me from. I think he is a lovely mix of being very confident of who he is as a person and a new actor who is willing to learn.”

Although being a mother to a young man is a stretch from her real-life role with young sons, Sutherland believes the initial “awkwardness” worked to the storyline’s advantage as the mother and son have been estranged.

“As we found our rhythm together so, too, did our characters,” she admits.

“I think the storyline is very cleverly constructed. It has pushed him into a beautiful place as an actor and we see some incredible performances from him. I think a lot of his followers are not going to like me at all.”

Again, this is a short stint for the actress.

What’s next on the cards?

“I love my acting. I think I am probably going to start teaching drama to kids. And there is a possibility I might be doing some theatre work next year,” she says.

Right now, though, this mom has a lot of explaining to do… in the storyline!

Natasha Sutherland is currently to be seen on Scandal on at 7.30pm every Monday to Thursday.