Actress Sophie Ndaba has regained her spot on centre stage, thanks to her role as the twisted nurse Palesa on Mzansi Magic’s Lockdown.
Ndaba trended for two days this week on social media, with fans of her performance sharing their appreciation on Twitter and Facebook.
City Press chatted to the celebrated actress who first stole viewers’ hearts with her role as Queen on Generations. She played this character for 25 years.
Ndaba said: “You must understand, I used to watch this [Lockdown]. I was a fan first and I would sit and think to myself if they could just let me in, to show I’m not just Queen forever.”
She praised the strong women of the cast, and said they were welcoming and helpful. She put in a lot of research for her portrayal of Palesa, she said.
“The fans say I had to dig deep, but we all do. It’s just hard to see that on the outside.
"I gave it my all, researched the role and googled people like Palesa and other shows that resonate with this. I put in everything. I was in my own lockdown when researching this character.
“Women are bold and challenge men, but Palesa comes across as weak. She has nobody around to lift her up. She’s a broken girl and even before she met the guy she was with she had issues. He abused her sweetness and he thinks she’s a bit slow – but she isn’t.”
Speaking to us from her home in Johannesburg, the actress – who is at times almost as bubbly as the character that made her famous – said she had also been working on the lifestyle show Hashtags Africa before playing Palesa and before the countrywide lockdown came into effect.
Ndaba has been using some of the time in isolation to learn new recipes and get in touch with her spirituality through prayer and meditation, but has also put much focus on plotting her future. It has been so important for her, she said.
The change has been strange. “Joburg is the best place to get busy and hustle – you can feel that in the air. Even the cars outside don’t distract me any more – because there aren’t any!
"Seeing the city like this is odd, but it has actually been a blessing for me to go into a planning phase and a stage of incubation.”
She has something rather big up her sleeve, but is careful not to let too much slip.
Ndaba’s life story is one that has not been unaffected by personal pain and at times the negative opinion of the public. This pain has ignited a project.
“People don’t know lots about me, people don’t know everything. My friend suggested I write a book, but that’s too slow for us South Africans,” she said.
Ndaba shared that she wanted to transpose parts of her life to film and create the story of her journey. She playfully joked about how adamant she was that her life deserved a story.
She said it bashfully, but the plans are drafted and the idea rooted in more than just biographical entertainment.
“I’m also directing and able to share my story about living with diabetes and adapting to it. Stress is a major factor for people with chronic illness.
"Even now with the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, the doctors are saying people like me are the most at risk. It’s also an expensive disease. You have to [follow a specific diet]. I want to share what I have discovered through my personal research.
“I have been talking to a few writers and I’ve already written [some of it] myself. I have a cast and producers. For me to find someone who would play Sophie would be hard. We’ll have to see.
"I’m taking it very slowly and not counting my chickens before they hatch.”
Although the idea has not been picked up by any media houses or broadcasters, Ndaba will do internet research if she has to.
She has already drafted a short list of people who could play her.
She squealed: “Oh, my darling, there are three, you would scream. So, I can’t tell you, but there are different phases, the youngster, her becoming an actress and her as a fully grown woman.
“We will launch it with a bang. Expect it sometime at the end of the year or next year.”