Ama Qamata and Cindy Mahlangu share sister bond in 'Blood and Water'
With the lockdown making traditional press junkets impossible, technology has become the new go-to option.
Ahead of the premiere of "Blood & Water", Netflix held Zoom media interviews with the principal cast.
I had the pleasure of chatting to Ama Qamata, who plays Puleng Khumalo, as well as Cindy Mahlangu, who plays her best friend, Zama.
Looking cover-ready in the morning, these new faces in the industry were thrilled to share their thoughts on the series.
For the audition phase, Qamata recalled sending through an audition tape, which then secured her a few callbacks, where she got to test her chemistry with several other characters.
It was only after she found out about the role she was to inhabit that the scope of it all started to sink in.
Qamata shared: “Obviously, it’s the first time I’m playing a lead character. It was a welcome challenge and a great honour for all of us to represent young black talent on a global stage.”
Mahlangu, who viewers will remember from "The Herd" and "The Queen", is stylish and feisty in her role. Given her modelling background, it wasn’t difficult to channel the fashionable side for the part.
And she truly bonded with Qamata.
“I feel like the chemistry was there. The first time I met Ama, we just clicked. We had that sister bond. For us to play best friends, it was so easy. It was naturally there,” Mahlangu confirmed.
Qamata added: “We also made an effort to see each other outside of shooting and we would go for lunch.”
This off-screen bonding has grown stronger, which was conspicuous during our interview.
In the series, which is set in Cape Town, Puleng, on the back of a chain of events at a party, sets out to prove that her sister, who was abducted at birth, is a swimming star at a private school. Her tenacity is all-consuming.
On sharing the spotlight alongside industry giants Sello Maake Ka-Ncube, Gail Mabalane and Xolile Tshabalala, the actresses couldn’t mask their feelings.
Qamata admitted: “It was incredible...They were very supportive of us as a young cast. A lot of us are new faces breaking into the industry. Having conversations with those who have been around, giving us advice on how we should handle and take care of ourselves and how to balance humility with professionalism, was really amazing. Gail, one time, got me a care package as she knew I was going to have a day off…”
“I’ve learned that talent is not enough. You have to have a lot of drive, you have to work hard and you have to prepare a lot.’
Co-star Mahlangu weighed in: “You have to go deep and find out where the character comes from and that’s how you connect. I’ve played a few different characters. Every character feels like I’m stepping into this for the first time.”
She also pointed out: “The story is about Puleng, who lost her sister at birth, but every single character had a story to tell. When you look at the different characters, you are like oh my gosh, there is so much to tell. I’m so grateful for a platform like Netflix to finally open doors for African creatives and young talent. We have so much raw talent to show to the world.”
With Youth Day almost upon us, Qamata and Mahlangu are a solid reminder of the calibre of talent we have with the next generation. That deserves to be celebrated.
"Blood & Water" is streaming on Netflix.