After a brief hiatus, the SAFTA award-winning actress returns to form and leads the cast of Mzansi Magic’s (161) heart-wrenching limited series, ‘Mzali Wami’.
By: Musa ‘Gift’ Mqwashu
All images supplied
Nolwazi gives a sizzling performance as the supervillain, Sibongile Dlomo, on Mzali Wami, which has had many viewers in fury. The 13-part limited series – executive produced by popular radio broadcaster and TV personality Dineo Ranaka – dissects the plight of human trafficking in Africa and includes acting heavyweights, Masasa Mbangeni, and Dumisani Mbebe.
The KwaZulu Natal-born actress describes her character as a vindictive woman who knows no bounds. “She is not a good person at all; however, I have always chosen to find the positive side in her. She is a parent, a wife who is fighting to keep her family”, she tells Blacklight during a Zoom interview.
She adds: “as a mother, I know that chances are there is no limit to what I would do to protect my children.”
Nolwazi holds a strong belief that the story behind Mzali Wami is integral and tackles a very potent issue. “We live in a country that has become rife with human trafficking and gender-based violence; we need to be having this conversation on a larger scale.
“The story is told through the lens of a woman, and a lot of times stories are told through the men’s perspective and that is the shift here – it’s a story centered on women.”
If the actress appears to be familiar, it’s because she has appeared in the film Otelo Burning and on the hit series’, Intersexions, The River and A Place Called Home, the latter earning her a Golden Horn Award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Drama Series.
Despite her success as an actor, Nolwazi took a break from being in front of the camera and became a casting director for numerous TV shows and films, such as Rhythm City, Nothing For Mahala, MTV Shuga, AboMama, to name a few.
She describes her comeback to the acting space as somehow quaint; since spending many years in her pre-production role. “I was very nervous about what it means, but I would still bump into people who recognised me.”
“Now I know what it is to put a production together right from the very beginning and that has brought about such a new respect for the craft.”
“I wish all of us could have this knowledge because you develop a deep appreciation for every person you see on set because you understand their role and their importance within the entire production.”
The multi-versed media professional is also studying towards a marketing and communications qualification. She says that education is of great importance to her. “I love education,” she explains. “I am always learning something, and I have always wanted to diversify.”
“[As creatives] we constantly have to market ourselves in order to book work. As a result, the marketing and communications knowledge tends to come in quite handy in the acting industry.
Nolwazi notes that the acting industry has undergone a rapid change since the early years. “From when I started to now, the game is completely different; you must choose whether you want to complain about it or play the game – you must adapt or die,” she says.
“I am appreciative of where we are now because it shows growth; if we were in the same place we were 10 years ago, then I would be concerned.”
With the horrific global pandemic, Covid-19, altering our lives and the ways we interact, film and TV sets are no longer the same. Nolwazi shares the importance of self-care and staying healthy during these turbulent times.
“I have been working from home for a few months, so I have not had much human interaction. The most interaction I have had with people is on set.”
The creative industry is also grappling with great uncertainty, and Nolwazi says mental health care has become a priority.
“At the beginning of 2020, I chose to start going to therapy, even though there was no particular mental health problem I was dealing with,” she shares. “ [As people], we go through life carrying so much baggage, and we start feeling heavy and react negatively in situations, due to underlying issues we have failed to face.”
She adds that her mobile phone wallpaper is her daily mantra: ‘Guard your energy and protect your peace’.
“Regardless of what industry you are in, always put your peace first,” she explains.
Chatting to the actress, she pulsates with positive energy and displays a great sense of fearlessness. She has come a long way since the A Place called Home days, which was over a decade ago.
“I want to be as authentic as possible in every moment,” she says about her mission as a storyteller. “We all have a role to play in each other’s lives, and I hope that with the characters I play, I can be able to impart that to the next person.”
Catch Nolwazi on Mzali WamI on Mzansi Magic (161) every Monday at 20h00.