Passion and tenacity are at the heart of everything Lineo Sekeleoane does.
The director and executive producer of "Zulu Wedding", which opens on the big screen today, studied film and television at AFDA. After graduating, she worked for Peter Ndoro for a while before moving to M-Net and then Channel O, where she worked as a programming manager. Thereafter, she started freelancing, producing content for SABC, before joining the creatives behind the launch of the Top Gospel channel on TopTV, which is no longer showing.
Amid cutting her teeth in the industry, she also stumbled on a funny idea, born out of a bad situation where her cousin was attacked and she had to take her to hospital, for a feature film. And so she began penning a rom-com.
She explains: “I created a character who was a traffic cop who lived in Sandton. She’s from a very wealthy family, but her parents have died, and her sister moved overseas. She tried to find something that would give her control, which is why she chose the job.
“As I was working on the story, it started angling itself around the sister’s narrative.”
The script changed, and the character evolved over the intervening years. Zulu Wedding revolves around a stunning young dancer named Luyanda “Lu” Sabata, played by Nondumiso Tembe.
She left SA to pursue a career in the US and falls in love with Tex (Darrin Dewitt Henson), a dashing New Yorker. Complications arise after he pops the question. Lu is of royal heritage and was promised to Zwelibanzi Sthembiso Zulu (aka Zee), played by Pallance Dladla.
While Lu is not willing to honour the traditional arrangement, she does want the blessing of her family as she carves her own path in the world – and returns home to Durban.
Carl Anthony Payne, Kgomotso Christopher, Makgano Mamabolo, Bubu Mazibuko, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Jerry Phele, Kelly Khumalo and Lorcia Cooper are all in the movie. Auditions were held in South Africa, New York and Los Angeles.
Of the casting, she says, “I knew I wanted to work with Sthandiwe and Bubu. “While I was writing, I wanted to see which characters I can create for them. Bubu has a great sense of humour. She’s done a lot of dramas and hardly any comedy, so I wrote this character for people to see her sense of humour. Pallance, I met many years ago. I was introduced to him by his acting coach. When I met him, he delivered this monologue which was amazing. By the time the story was finished, he had also come into his own and had become a big actor. So it worked out nicely.”
Finding the right actors to inhabit her characters was a very organic process for Sekeleoane, and she counts her blessings for how it all came together and “attracted the right people”.
During the making of the movie, the director also became a mom. Now she’s looking forward to introducing her other “baby” to audiences. She adds: “You can see your relatives in the story. We wanted to show a different side of South Africans in the movie. We sell our comedy to the world, and we highlight fashion, art and music. I hope South Africans enjoy the quirks in it.”
By the way, D’Banj and DJ Tira make appearances in the delightful rom-com, too.