Nthati Moshesh bagged the mother of all roles with ’Isono’

Nthati Moshesh’s ’Isono’ character, Mary Ndlovu, has seen many jaws drop. Picture: Supplied

Nthati Moshesh’s ’Isono’ character, Mary Ndlovu, has seen many jaws drop. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 20, 2020


For those who have tuned into BET’s first telenovela, “Isono”, I’m sure your jaw dropped in the first episode.

Nthati Moshesh delivers a performance unlike any we’ve seen to date.

Cast as Mary Ndlovu, she is unflinchingly ruthless.

Several scenes later, she is seen as a revered community leader attending church.

And therein lies the beauty of this character. The 51-year-old actress said: “You are going to call me a few weeks after and go, ‘Who is that character?’ She’s challenging.”

Beyond challenging, though, there is a concealed darkness to her.

Moshesh thrives on playing characters that take her out of her comfort zone. This one does that, and more.

She laughed: “I think it’s apt that she is called ‘A devil in a Sunday hat’.

The whole show is about duality of character and no one really portrays that role better than Mary.

“There’s this philanthropist on the one hand. She is a mother.

“She takes care of abandoned children. At the same time, she will murder, or order a hit, without blinking.

“I would say of all the characters I have played, multiply that by 10. It’s really on that level. This character, it’s a page-turner for me, reading the script. I’m hoping the audience watching thinks it’s a gripping drama.”

Bohang Moeko, Nthati Moshesh and Rami Chuene co-star in BET’s first telenovela, “Isono”. Picture: Supplied

Is there some redemption to this “Mother of the Nation” from Vosloorus on the East Rand, Johannesburg, where she runs the House of Grace, a centre helping the youth, especially those at life-changing crossroads in their life?

Moshesh explained: “If you are an obstacle, she will remove the obstacle. How she chooses to do so is at her discretion.

“But she really does believe that she is removing the obstacles for the greater good.

“The one thing that drives this woman is taking care of the kids in her care. In fact, she grew up in an orphanage, too.

“She is led by her maternal instinct, which gets bludgeoned, sometimes.”

Aside from the seasoned talent on the show, there’s an incredible mix of young actors.

Unapologetically biased, she said: “You are going to see talent on another level.

“Didi (Didintle) Khunou, who plays my daughter, Esther, I’ve seen her twice on stage. I was blown away by her talent then.

“The more time I spend with Didi, it’s quite scary (gets a bit emotional here), I feel she’s a younger version of me.

“She loves dancing. She loves singing. I’m exactly the same.”

Aside from bumping into Bohang Moeko at an event, Moshesh worked with him on “Ring of Lies”.

She added: ”Now he gets to be my son, Gabriel. There are no random meetings in the industry. I’m very excited about working with the young talent on the show.”

Mary’s Machiavellian manoeuvres are bound to keep South Africa religiously tuning in.

*“Isono” airs on BET (DStv channel 129) from Mondays to Thursdays, at 9.30pm.

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