Check mate

2010-03-13 11:34

I CAN feel the daggers on me from my colleagues. It’s deadline day, 28°C outside and since it’s a Friday morning, most people are suffering from Phuza Thursday hangovers. Tempers are short.

When four rather loud ladies ­invade the office in a whirlwind of shimmer powder and designer gowns, those short journalist tempers become even more frayed.

Actresses Elma Postma, Khabonina Qubeka, Renate Stuurman and Maggie Benedict are in the building!

The ladies, who are here for a ­photo shoot, are the hotties in a new SABC drama series The Mating Game, which is about … yip you guessed it, women and their dynamics. The show centres on the lives of four very different women and the trials and tribulations they face as friends.

By far the most eccentric of the four is Qubeka, an effervescent dancer/singer/fashion designer/businesswoman/actress. Although for many regular folk the thought of juggling so many careers might seem daunting, the former ­Muvhango star tends to manage this lifestyle with ease. “I have never felt like it’s been a struggle to do many things all at the same time. My life is like a puzzle and everything fits perfectly; I’m a juggler. My life is just meant to be this way.”

Qubeka’s vibrancy can be a bit overpowering at times and at the shoot it’s clear to see that her three co-stars are closer to each other than they are to her. But the ever­-gracious Qubeka dismisses any ­insinuation of tension. “I was honoured when I was approached for this audition and when I realised which women I was going to work with I was even happier. We all got along very well and even though the three of them had more scenes ­together, I still felt a deep connection to them.”

As for her ultimate role? “I wish I could play a superhero; an ass-kicking woman with hips and thighs who will save the world!” she says with her trademark toothy grin.

On the opposite end of the scale is Stuurman, who is more reserved and quiet. “I took on this role because, unlike in the States, we don’t get as many scripts to read as we would like. But I thoroughly enjoyed working with this cast.”

Stuurman, who sounds like she was rather reluctant to take this role, says that the lead characters had to hang out together for a month before shooting began. “It was great. We have a real friendship going on and this is what makes the show more believable. It is sad that people always assume that if there are women working together on set that there will be pettiness.”
Known for her charming dimples and beautiful Afro, Stuurman ­admits that it might be difficult to cut off her crowning glory should a script dictate that. “Really, it would depend on the role and what way my hair would affect the character. There are always ways to work around my hair.”

As for Postma, the lithe blonde has traded her rather flat 7de Laan character for something much edgier – a brooding lesbian.
“Being in a soapie is one of the best teachers in the industry. Performance-wise it’s different from a drama since everything happens relatively quickly and you don’t always have time to delve into the deepest emotions of your character.”

The Pretoria-born Postma comes across as reserved, but reveals a bubbly, charismatic woman when she lets loose. She gushes about her experience in The Mating Game: “I think the way the producer Anita Khanna saw the characters and ‘created’ the friendship between these girls made them more believable. At first you have to build trust, get to know each other.

“Once that bond is made, and even though you fight and differ from each other, you realise that a strong friendship can overcome a lot of difficulties in life. I have only a few close friends whom I trust with my life, and no money in the world can buy that. These are the people with whom you can cry, laugh and just be yourself.”

Benedict makes up the fourth member of the group. The pint-sized actress studied acting at the Michael Howard Studios in New York, and while she might not be instantly recognisable to local viewers, her CV lists the SABC drama Hard Copy and international film Darfur.

Benedict plays a fierce, no-holds-barred single mother who is also a radio DJ. “I’m only 5.1m and we had to find natural and inventive ways to keep my co-stars and me in the same frame. Heels and apple boxes helped a lot!

“I always work extra hard, if only so I can earn a good night’s sleep knowing that I ‘left it on the floor’, as our lead director Alex Yazbek always says. There’s nothing worse than sitting in your dressing room after a scene and suddenly realising ‘aah, that’s what that meant’.”

As a long day of make-up, putting on designer duds in the bathroom, preening for the photographer and cheesing off the City Press staff comes to an end, everyone breathes a sigh of relief – it’s finally over.

The Mating Game is on Thursdays at on SABC2 at 8.30pm

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