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Lerato Mvelase: ‘There are no small roles, only small actors’

Lerato Mvelase as Nomusa on ‘The Wife’ season 2. Picture: Supplied

Lerato Mvelase as Nomusa on ‘The Wife’ season 2. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 18, 2022


International Emmy-nominated actress Lerato Mvelase plays the role of Nomusa, the woman who replaced Zandile (Khanyi Mbau) in her jail cell when the Zulu brothers broke her out at the end of season one.

Her performance on the show, like all the other characters she has played in the past, has left viewers on the edge of their seats.

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“My character is a single mom with a sickly son. He needs a very expensive surgery, which she can’t afford because she works as a cleaner.

“When Nkosana (Mondli Makhoba) approaches her, it’s tit for tat. Now she’s in jail so that she can save her child’s life,” said Mvelase about her role.

She said being a part of the popular show is extremely exciting for her.

“‘The Wife’ is one of the most spoken about productions at the moment.

“Which actor doesn’t want to be in the most popular show of the moment, to share their talent with the rest of South Africa?” she said.

Mvelase’s storyline is one that resonates with parents around the globe. She gives up her freedom for her son’s well-being.

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“You’ve got this woman who makes an honest living, a woman who obviously has worked hard for her own integrity in her own little world, right?

“And all of that has been attenuated to ‘prisoner’.

“I guess for every parent, you go through things and sometimes we have to be stoic about our own situations.

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“Sometimes you can’t be weak; you have to face challenges. It’s what parents have to do; they sacrifice,” she said.

Although her character isn’t in Dudu Busani-Dube’s book, “Zandile The Resolute”, she brings a different element to the story.

“Nomusa brings a different dynamic, which parents will relate to. As parents, we are often so busy raising our kids and trying to survive that we don’t take a moment to acknowledge how much we actually do.

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“I hope Nomusa’s story will also help young people to see the daily sacrifices parents make.

“This storyline really touches on the essence of who we are as human beings. And I guess that’s why many people relate to this character and her sacrifice,” she said.

Mvelase, who has acted in “Home Affairs” as Katlego and was SAFTA-nominated for her roles as Sibongile in “Isibaya” and Lillian in the Oscar-shortlisted film “Life, Above All”, said playing Nomusa is different because within her weakness lies so much strength.

“I’ve played characters who are strong, overtly strong. And then here Nomusa is this woman who people might look at and be like, ‘I have no confidence in her.’ We know she’s not a gangster.

“She just wants to be here, to serve the sentence she needs to serve.

“When you’re thinking of jail, you have a preconceived idea of what happens to people in jail and how they have to be butch and boisterous and aggressive.

“But Nomusa is literally the opposite of that, which makes it even harder for her. But I love that, because it’s such a challenge,” she said.

The actress says she doesn’t come from a school of thought where you need to play a lead to make an impact.

“I believe there are no small roles, only small actors. Because I approach characters in that light. I could have been a warden.

“But let me tell you, I would have been the best warden in that scene,” she says confidently.

What’s next for Nomusa, especially with her growing relationship with Nkosana?

Says Mvelase: “I guess you will have to keep watching. Very interesting stuff is coming. Very, very interesting stuff.”

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