Before accepting the role, what did you know about TB and what did you learn during the process?
I had the basic knowledge of the disease from my high school education and having seen peers and extended relatives with the disease. But it was a pretty basic perspective of it.
During the process of making the film I realised there was a lot I was unaware of, such as the medication process and just exactly how much it takes out of a person and how long it takes.
It was very eye-opening but also refreshing to see the power we have as South Africans to overcome the illness if we choose to stay on the path with medication.
Did you actually go underground to experience a typical day in the life of a miner? If so, what were your thoughts on the conditions?
We went to places where they did underground work to train miners - sort of a simulation room which mimics the conditions miners work under.
Did you identify or relate to any aspects of your character personally?
Absolutely - Mandla is a musician and I, having been a churchgoer for most of my life, have been exposed to many genres of music as well. I am very passionate about music.
Another great aspect of Mandla is that he is a dreamer. It just humbled me to realise the role we as storytellers have to tell of the human condition.
How did the role help you grow as an actor? What did you learn that you hadn’t known?
We as actors have a huge responsibility and a lot of power because we are, in essence, reflecting these issues to society and these stories have a strong effect on people.
It was a physically challenging role for me to depict a young man with TB. I did a lot of running to lose weight.
Sometimes I wouldn’t eat for some time before shooting just to bring out that realness of hunger and so that I could connect to it.
This movie focuses on the threat of TB. What advice would you give the youth about making informed health decisions?
It will enlighten a lot of people, not just me, on how easy it is to fall prey to this disease.
But it also empowers us to get more knowledge on it and break away from the stereotypes and stigmas attached to it.