In her first TV role Nandi Mbatha (21) plays naïve Simlindile “Simi” Ngema on Mzansi Magic’s Isithembiso. Simi moves to Joburg to study but things become complicated when she meets property-owning thug Banzi “The Wolf of Braamfontein” Kunene.
Nandi has a passion for her craft and loves seeing people’s reactions to her character. “I love acting and the reactions I get from people when they see me in the streets. Some are angry and some feel sorry for my character, but the response is always positive.”
Nandi says at first she thought she had a lot in common with Simi but later realised she was nothing like her. “The only thing we have in common is being humble and respectful, but we are complete opposites.”
Unlike Simi, Nandi says she’s a good judge of character and is able to read people’s behaviour to determine how they think. “Simi has the power to control a lot of things but she’s too naïve and sometimes stupid. As Nandi, I would have never been in a relationship with a person like Banzi.”
On the telenovela Simi falls in love with Zamani, who Banzi despises. Many people think Zamani Mbatha, who plays Zamani, and Nandi are family in real life because they share a surname but Nandi says they’re not even distantly related.
“It would be weird having to kiss my cousin! Zamani and I are definitely nowhere near related but we do have the same surname which is just a coincidence.”
Nandi says she’s matured a bit since landing the role and that she’s learning to master the little things about acting. “In the beginning, I made so many mistakes – like not researching my character and the pronunciation of names and places properly – but I’m learning new things every day.”
One of the people who she says inspires her and has helped in the development of her acting is veteran actor Hamilton Dlamini, who plays the role of power-hungry Banzi Kunene.
“Working alongside greats like Hamilton Dlamini is an honour. He and Meshack Mavuso teach me how to master my craft every day.”
Hamilton says Simi is a pleasure to work with and he loves the topics that Isithembiso tackles because it speaks directly to young people and the challenges they face every day. “Older people love Isithembiso because it shows the challenges young people go through when they move to the big city,” he says. He goes on to say that in his younger days topics such as sex, rape, family feuds, prostitution and sugar-daddy’s were never discussed.
Because of its popularity Isithembiso will now air every weekday, Monday to Friday, at 19h30