Oh My Bod

Masoja Msiza; Mpho Sebeng and Florence Masebe in Ring of Lies

Masoja Msiza; Mpho Sebeng and Florence Masebe in Ring of Lies

Published May 9, 2016

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Munya Vomo

In an informal conversation with actor Yonda Thomas (Saints & Sinners, Isibaya) at a gym, something came up regarding South African television: there isn’t sufficient budget allocated that would allow for the actors to really get under the skin of their characters which, in turn, would convince the viewer that the characters are real.

Thomas was shooting scenes for the first season of Isibaya when we spoke. He claimed that if he had the financial backing of the production companies that employed him, he would be dedicated enough to do whatever he needed to to get his body into the required shape for his character.

While that sounded like an excuse, he went on to say that another problem when working in a small industry such as South Africa’s is that there are no big roles for young actors to concentrate on, thereby allowing them to do only one role at a time.

Think of Christian Bale, who could choose to do one role a year playing an Aids patient (The Machinist, 2004) and then the superhero Batman (Batman Begins, 2005). For The Machinist, Bale dropped from a healthy 83kg to 55kg. He looked sick, but that was the point. He spoke about being on an apple-a-day diet which helped with the dramatic weight loss.

While this is incredible, Thomas pointed out that he, too, could do the same. The problem is that he would have to fund that transformation himself. Also, there is little work available so it is tricky to look like an Aids patient for one role, when for the next shoot you need to look like a bodybuilder. Bale gets to concentrate on one project at a time. Not here.

In a chat with Lawrence Maleka (Clash of the Choirs, Star Gist), the subject of body transformations also came up. He has a bodybuilding film coming up and is in the process of turning his Steve Urkel frame into The Hulk.

This is one reason why you should watch Mzansi Magic’s Ring of Lies. The drama follows a naturally gifted boxer, Neo (played by Mpho Sebeng, Saints & Sinners), who is trying to rise in the amateur boxing world. He has to convince his uninterested parents that the sport is his destiny and he can’t resist an offer from a boxing scout.

If you know Sebeng’s work then you would know that, like Maleka, the young actor was lanky. In fact, given that he was not in the second season of Saints & Sinners, it makes sense that he started pushing the weights. His character is now believable because not only is he a brilliant actor, he also looks the part. His co-star, Bohang Moeko (Zabalaza), has also worked hard to look the part, so for that alone people should tune in. Seriously, when was the last time we had a boxing show with people who looked like boxers?

Ring of Lies airs every weekday at 9pm on Mzansi Magic, (DStv channel 161).

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