Local star Sibongile Mlambo on transforming into a mermaid

Sibongile Mlambo in Siren. (Photo: Supplied by Showmax/Freeform)
Sibongile Mlambo in Siren. (Photo: Supplied by Showmax/Freeform)

Cape Town – While fans may recognise her as Angela in the Netflix series Lost in Space or as Tamora in MTV’s Teen Wolf, Zimbabwean-born actress Sibongile Mlambo is taking on a whole new adventure that will have viewers captivated.

In Siren, now exclusively showing on Showmax, a sequence of eerie events occur when a mysterious girl, Ryn (Eline Powell), shows up looking for her sister in Bristol Cove, a town known for its legend of once being home to mermaids. But be advised - this dark and twisted tale is nothing like the Little Mermaid we’ve come to know and love.

In the dark fantasy-action, Sibongile plays Ryn’s sister, Donna. In a candid chat, Channel24 caught up with the 28-year-old to find out more about Donna, what it takes to be a mermaid, and what she misses most about home.

You have been living abroad for some time, do you miss home?

I do! I get homesick for both Zimbabwe and South Africa. I miss the people, the language, the culture and the food. Oh, what I would do for some boerewors or biltong!

When you initially heard this was a drama about mermaids, what were your first thoughts?

OMG! Something different! Isn’t this every girl’s dream?! Where’s my wig at?

In Siren you play a mermaid named Donna, tell us a little more about your character?

Donna is Ryn’s sister who is captured in the first episode. She is a hunter, she is a fierce and very strong mermaid. Her main objective is to get back in the water with her sister and go home. They have quite different experiences on land with humans that causes friction between them.

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Did you need any special water training for the role?

I did a lot of swimming and it was so much fun! I got diver certified to learn how to work in deep water. I also received breath-holding training from a free diver in order to learn the dolphin swim movement and to lengthen my breath hold. I went from 30 seconds to 2 minutes 37 seconds!

Mermaids have never been portrayed in this light, how did you develop your character?

I researched a lot of sea and land animals, mostly predators. I watched films that used mocap [motion capture], a lot of Andy Serkis’ work. I also studied body language, since Donna doesn’t speak much, and played with what she would sound like and how she would move.

What are you hoping viewers will take away from watching Siren?

I’m sure some people will tune in because they are curious. I hope when they do, they will be entertained and find that the show is about much more than mermaids. It’s a story about acceptance, strange things, family, loyalty, trust, the things we all go through, just set in Bristol Cove.

Do you believe in mermaids?

Well… so much of the ocean is unexplored so who knows what lies in the deep dark depths of the seas!


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