Gomora Is Opening Up The Industry With New Faces

It's becoming a difficult task for many South Africans to choose what to watch on their television screens. Local dramas and soapies have invested time in making sure fans are entertained and the latest telenovela on Mzansi Magic, Gomora: Ivili Liyajika is fast becoming a favourite.

For the last month, viewers have watched Katlego Danke’s character Thathi go from living a rich lifestyle in Sandton to humbling herself and going back home to Alexandra (Gomora) in a short space of time.

The cast, which includes both old and new faces has been a breath of fresh air for viewers.

This dynamic was done on purpose by the producers of the show, Seriti Films.

“The combination of old and new talent was intentional. We are big believers in opening up the industry to new performers. There is such a need for opportunities for passionate young people in our industry, we need to do more. Bringing in older actors is a necessity for the growth of our young actors. Not only because of their refined talent and work ethic, but also because it’s important for young people to learn from their role models, to be mentored by them in an active kind of way. There is no better way for this exchange to happen than on a set together,” said producer Kutlwano Ditsele.

Some of the new faces include the much-loved character Teddy portrayed by Sicelo Buthelezi and Mazet played by Siphesihle Ndaba. While Ndaba always knew she would pursue a career in the arts, she did not think she would land up becoming an actress.
Siphesihle Ndaba and Husband
Siphesihle Ndaba is one of many new faces viewers can watch on Mzansi Magic’s latest telenovela, Gomora.
“I actually thought I was going to be doing something behind the scenes. For the most part of high school and university I wanted to be a playwright and director and at some point a Drama Therapist. I only considered the idea of becoming an actress once I started my postgraduate degree and had to take acting as one of my electives. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying both the theory work and practical aspect of the class,” she said.

For Buthelezi the acting bug bit him while he was still in high school.

“I was 15-years-old when I first knew I wanted to act. For me to land this character, I saw an Open Audition post by Seriti Films on Instagram and I sent them my Acting CV and after a few weeks they called me to come for an audition,” he said.

Ndaba auditioned for her role via a video recording.

“I was called in for a call back while I was in London on an academic study tour and had to self-tape my callback audition. Once I came back to South Africa I had one more callback after which I was told that I had gotten the part.”

Ditsele said the biggest thread on Gomora was that one minute you can be up and the next you can be down.

“The inconsistency of life is something we can all relate to. The show is a hit because viewers can relate to the story and the characters. The stories hit home because they are crafted in a way that is relatable, sometimes funny and bold. There are so many conversations that we as a society need to have, we believe Gomora starts the dialogue, that’s why so many people tune in. We are exploring family dynamics in a real way, something that everyone can relate to,” said Ditsele.

Buthelezi’s character has an alcoholic mother who always embarrasses him. He said working with veterans like Connie Chiume was a blessing.

“Honestly it has been an absolute pleasure because for the first time I got to understand and see for myself how they take on their characters. It is really amazing to see someone you have been watching on TV working with you on the same production. I have received really positive reviews even though sometimes the actor inside me still feels like there is always something more to improve. But to see people love “Teddy“ that much really made me realise that at least there is some justice I am doing to the character.”

Ndaba has also received a great reception for her portrayal of Mazet, a young girl who dabbles in criminal activity.

“People really love Mazet. I’d like to think it’s because she represents a lot of South Africans. She is driven, she wants a better life for herself, a better standard of living - we may not all agree with her methods of trying to achieve her goal but we understand the financial plight of the people around us. I think people also love her because she is a strong female character.”

The show had to go on a production break due to the lockdown regulations but have now been given the go ahead to continue production.

“The presence of Covid-19 has forced us to rethink and re-evaluate how we tell our stories, how we conduct ourselves on set. We are having discussions with health and safety experts and other industry players, to find ways to return to our sets in the safest and most considered way.”

Gomora will be back in its 7.30pm slot on Mzansi Magic soon
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