THE PAWN: Lerato (Samkelo Ndlovu) is doing David Genaros bidding in Rhythm City.

Living in the lap of luxury comes with a price tag. This is something Rhythm City’s Lerato (Samkelo Ndlovu) is fully aware of. But has the opportunist bitten off more than she can chew as David Genaro’s sex puppet? Debashine Thangevelo caught up with the vibrant actress to find out…

THE last time I spoke to Samkelo Ndlovu, she was quite the buzz on SABC1’s Generations as DJ Lulu. And she was the driving force of a very topical storyline when her character had unprotected sex with Matthew, who withheld the fact that he was HIV positive during their steamy encounter.

Three years on, she stars in’s Rhythm City in another plum, multi-dimensional role as Lerato, an opportunist who will do anything to ensure she doesn’t end up penniless and a maid like her mother. Oh, and she has serious daddy issues.

Before delving into Lerato’s storyline, I asked Ndlovu what work she’d done before she joined the soap just more than a year ago.

“I did four more roles since Generations,” she enthuses. “I did Soul City season 11 – I played the role of Nkosazana opposite Leleti Khumalo and I was nominated for a Safta. Then I was in South Africa’s first telenovela, iNkaba, as one of the leads – Lira Khumalo, followed by Skyf, The Movie for Mzansi Magic. They showed it a few times. After that I played Lebo Sexwale in a Mzansi Love short story, Lawless.”

By the way, she has also been keeping at her singing.

“My song called Vertigo, a house version mixed by DJ Kent, is on air now. It’s sitting at No 4 on Metro FM,” she smiles.

Talk about being a busy bee.

Getting back to Rhythm City, she sheds light on her character’s back-story as a way of explaining her current predicament.

“This is so you can understand her choices like I do. Lerato has daddy issues. She grew up without a father figure. She gets confused as to what to accept as love from a man. Her ambition has led her to fear failure and ending up a domestic worker like her mother. She learnt how to get money from a man at a young age. She has lived a very upmarket lifestyle and is trying to attract that kind of man,” Ndlovu explains.

By listening to her chat about her character – and almost defend her – you appreciate why the actress is ideal for the role.

Ndlovu continues: “Deep down, she is quite a soldier. She is loving, even though she puts up this wall that she is a badass and you should not mess with her.

“ But she is a woman and, as such, is led by her emotions.”

Thankfully, amid all the trouble she manages to attract, she can always depend on Fats to keep her grounded and provide a shoulder to cry on when she needs it. And there have been too many of those times – like when David (Jamie Bartlett) uncovered her whisky scam and when she slept with Suffocate.

The go-getter says: “She has a scheming mind. Before this, she seduced a lawyer to record whatever they were doing together to blackmail him. But he ended up dying from what she slipped into his drink. When she went through his phone, she learnt that he had millions in accounts in the Cayman Islands. But she wasn’t after a big payoff and couldn’t be bothered by all that red tape, so she sold the phone to David.”

Of course, a crafty businessman like David wasn’t about to let his key to those millions slip away. Even more so, with all the tax debacles he faces in getting his hands on the money.

And so Lerato has to do his bidding by soliciting someone crucial to help David access the funds.

But how far will Lerato go, is the all-important question.

“David keeps testing her and she ends up doing things that he wants her to do. He knows he has a soldier on his side. She is partly doing it out of fear and partly hopeful of what she could get out of the deal. They become an unlikely team.”

With David tempting her into exploring her dark side, it looks like he might just have unleashed a formidable villainess in the making.

Ndlovu says she and Bartlett are like two peas in a pod on and off screen.

Both are pedantic about playing their roles with conviction and authenticity, and they can just as easily have a lunch and talk about any array of subjects under the South African sun.

Now that does seem a perfect fit and they have much mayhem to deliver, so best you tune in!

• Rhythm City airs on on weekdays at 6.30pm.