The cast of Housekeepers on channels Mzansi Magic and One Magic. Picture: Supplied
Some have called it South Africa’s own version of the American television series Devious Maids. While there are some similarities between the two shows, I have opted to call it some pretty good local storytelling.

Premiering two weeks ago on DStv channel 103 (One Magic) on Saturdays at 8pm, Housekeepers stars radio DJ and all-round entertainer Thando Thabethe in the role of aspiring legal eagle Linda Ndlovu, who is on a mission after something terrible happens to her mother.

Ndlovu is described as someone who “hides her identity behind an apron, and assumes the role of housekeeper in an attempt to bring the Zwide family to justice after one of her loved ones are framed for murder”, Mzansi Magic said in a statement.

“Ndlovu will see tables turn in a world behind high walls and luxury, where the wealthy may believe they are powerful in the comfort of their mansions, when in fact it is the housekeepers who see all and know all,” it added.

Thabethe said it was a role she was excited about. However, she didn’t have too much time to prepare for it. To be honest with you, we don’t have the luxury, as they have in America, of having lots of time to use to prepare for roles.

         Thando Thabethe as Linda Ndlovu on Housekeepers.  Picture: Supplied

“But for me, the point was that she lives in these different worlds, as the daughter Linda Ndlovu, and then there’s her as the helper/housekeeper. It was really just me trying to understand how she tackles the two roles, understanding how she would behave for instance in the Zwide household and what she’s like in her real life,” she said.

As we’ve watched the first two episodes, one of the important aspects of the story is that it tells the story of people who exist on the periphery of the everyday lives of many South Africans. These people are the support staff. The housekeepers and the gardeners.

This is one of the things that Thabethe said attracted her to the story.

“First, it was written by Portia Gumede, and Amanda Lane was going to direct it, so at that point, I was like sold. It was also something that has not been told in the South African context, where we live with people, and it’s like they’re part of the furniture. 

This show kind of reminds you that they are people. And that they can change your life,” she said.

The most rewarding aspect of taking on a role of this kind, she said, was the professionalism of the cast and crew. 

“You know when you work with a cast and crew that are all very invested - it’s one thing when everyone is kind of just clocking in and out, but when people are literally giving their blood, sweat, and tears, and everyone is fully immersed in the story, that was very beautiful to see, but also very important for this kind of story because it’s very dramatic. And it is very sad,” she said. 

The scariest part, she said, was being vulnerable. “There were moments in the series that left me no option but to kind of face some of the things in my own personal life, that I sort of parked. It was also very therapeutic, but when you go there, you go in front of a lot of people. Which is very difficult,” she added.

Thabethe said her plan with her acting was to continue working on as varied platforms as she could.

“This is an incredible role, to be honest. This is something I have been praying for. But, it’s certainly more of this. More films. More drama. I don’t want to do anything that locks me into one character for too long,” she said.

Thabethe is tasked with bringing Linda’s story to life alongside a stellar cast of Mangaliso Ngema as Peter Zwide and Zikhona Sodlaka as Boniswa Mzobe.

* Housekeepers airs on Saturdays at 8pm on DStv’s channel 103 (One Magic), with a repeat on Mondays at 8pm (Mzansi Magic, channel 161).

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