Hype Avenue

We chat to Chi Mhende, the first woman to play a man on SA TV

  Chi Mhende
Chi Mhende

 

Generations: The Legacy actress, Chi Mhende has everyone talking.

Social media sites were a buzz when viewers found out that the character Wandile in the popular soapie is in fact played by a woman.

Chi is going where no other actress has gone before and has become the first woman to act as a man in Generations.

She was more than excited to take on this role as it is redefining ‘it’s a man’s world.’

“I’ve played a variety of fabulous creatures and am never afraid to explore various expressions and psyches,” explains Chi.

This is not the only thing that attracted her to the role, her character Wandile has been struggling with his sexuality and in the episodes showing currently on television he has transformed into Candice.

“The role represents a reality for so many people who are going through this but are unable to talk about it. I was excited about providing a bouncing board for that conversation,” says Chi.

Physically it takes her about an hour to transform into a man. This includes a vocal warm up, a strap for her chest, a haircut, Wandi’s clothing and a dash of cologne.

However things are a bit tricky now that she’s playing two characters, Wandile and Candice.

“It’s so much fun. The only thing to consider is time for the transformation, but ultimately this moment is a blessing. It is our truth though isn’t it?”

She continues, “We are not one dimensional creatures – if we are honest in our living and behaving.  What an honour to be able to play that honesty and make way for great discussions on identity, self worth and expression.”

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The current plot line has become a talking point online with mixed reactions from viewers.

“Debate is great. It means our minds are at work. This was never going to be a simple story to release or be understood, but it’s an important one,” says Chi.

She continues, “I say let’s not be afraid to keep asking the difficult questions and to keep talking to and educating one another.”

And how does Chi separate her life from her characters when the cameras stop rolling?

“I put on my crown and remind myself of the Empress within.”

5 quick things to know about Chi

* Chi was born in Zimbabwe.
* She studied BA Live Performance at AFDA.
* Lead actress in the award winning film Love The One You Love.
* Best Actress winner at the 2014 Durban International Film Festival.
* Voice over artist for various brands such as Al Jazeera, Sanlam, Mandela Day, to name a few.

(Photo credit: Fiona MacPherson)

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