Lungelo Mpangase had a fortuitous entry into the world of acting. In high school, she accompanied a friend to an audition for a kasi film and, while there, Mpangase was told her friend had to run lines with a partner in order to audition. The friend didn’t get the job, but Mpangase did.
A love for portraying different characters was born and that was the last time she left anything to chance. Mpangase has since been seen playing Khethiwe, a breakthrough role on the brilliant first season of eHostela on Mzansi Magic.
This month, she’s back on the same channel as Ntokozo in the new drama Mzala Wam. The show shines a spotlight on human trafficking and Ntokozo is at the centre of the drama, as she was stolen from her biological mother as an infant.
Mpangase shares the screen with local talents including Masasa Mbangeni, Nolwazi Ngubeni and Dumisani Mbebe.
“The thing that drew me to Mzala Wam was the fact that the script was so beautifully written,” she says.
“I was blown away. My character finds out the mother she’s always known is actually not her mother. I knew it would challenge me to the core because I have never dealt with anything like that. I grew up with both my parents … as far as I know,” she laughs.
During the interview, the 20-something actor says: “I am very specific about the types of jobs I take since I am an up-and-comer in the industry.”
Asked to expand on this, she says: “I know most people will think: ‘What is she saying, she’s still new.’ But I feel like I have to set my standard. I come from a family with values and morals, so that’s how I want to be received by the industry and by my supporters.
“Right now, I want to prove that I can really act. That’s my main intention. I realised that when people get roles where, for example, they have to be naked, people forget the fact that they can act. They’ll say things such as: ‘Oh, she’s so hot, she’s got a nice body.’ But they don’t see the art in the acting.”
Acting may not be something she formally studied, but Mpangase is running a bursary competition on her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages (@Lungelo_Mpangase). In the meantime, she intends to learn as much as she can from her co-stars and crew.
“I felt alive whenever I was acting and it was years after I was intentional about making it my career that I got my big break,” she says.
“In eHostela, I was working alongside people who went to acting school, so I was learning a lot from them. I was blessed to work with a production company [Stained Glass TV] that loves to help and work with young artists. It felt like a family.
“With Mzala Wam, it was such an eye-opener to work with the likes of Sis’ Masasa and Sis’ Nolwazi. I was dealing with women who win awards and know the position I’m in now in the industry. They were so amazing to me. They taught me so much in my craft and advised me about life as well. A lot of people fight you in the industry – I’ve had some bad fights. But I was so blessed that they took me under their wings. Their energy was amazing. I always say in life, you will learn until you die.”
In 2019, Mpangase had a near-death experience when she was involved in a car accident that left her with an injured spine. She used the time away from work not only to heal, but also to align her intention of becoming a great actor with her desire to prepare for those roles.
She remembers: “That injury allowed me to analyse a lot of things about my career, and to prepare me for what I want [to achieve]. Because of the accident, I’m more intentional about picking up where I left off.
“So, right now, I am an actor who is prepared and looking for more opportunities. Now that I am able to walk again, I’m ready to hit the ground running.”