Cape Town - We got to know and love her as an HIV-positive character in a time when such things were groundbreaking. Now Hlubi Mboya is back on the small screen as a pint-sized powerhouse who packs a hefty punch.
As Captain Ntsiki Motshe in SABC3’s new crime drama The Docket, Hlubi tackles headline-making crimes that include hijackings and farm murders. The 40-year-old makes a welcome return to TV after years of working behind the scenes and on local movies and international titles such as Death Race: Inferno and Blood Drive.
We caught up with her to find out more about what she’s been up to and all about her new role.
THE DETERMINED DETECTIVE
Hlubi’s character is part of the Ravens, an elite crime-fighting unit formed to tackle high-profile crimes. They have to win back the faith of the South African public as well as win each other’s trust. The squad members have been chosen for their outstanding investigative skills. In addition to this, Ntsiki has a talent for handling media relations.
The role means a lot to her, Hlubi says.
“Being a black woman in any industry is hard. I think equity, inclusion, diversity, transformation and equality are what’s important right now.
“So playing a black woman in an industry like the police, which is rarely dominated by people who look like me, was so important to me. Representation on our television screens is crucial and black female leading roles should be encouraged.”
HLUBI THE ACTIVIST
The acting veteran is passionate about equality and making sure young black women in television get what they deserve. She’s the executive director of Future CEOs, a non-profit organisation that helps up-and-coming business people with business management and career development.
Hlubi is also the director at Sunshine Cinema. Its ambassadors use mini solar-powered mobile projectors to bring the cinema experience to communities that lack easy access to conventional cinemas.
“Through screening dynamic educational, interactive content and media training workshops, we address social and environmental challenges through community partnerships.”
One of the projects she’s most passionate about is Sisters Working in Film and Television (Swift), a South African-based non-profit organisation for women in film and television. The organisation was formed to address patriarchy and lack of equity and equality in the industry. She’s one of the founding members.
Their main aim? Making sure women have equal rights in the entertainment industry.
Actresses Nyalleng Thibedi, Ntombifuthi Dlamini, Lungelo Madondo and Dawn Thandeka King have thrown their weight behind the project, which also tackles sexual harassment in the industry.
The organisation was launched at the Durban International Film Festival and Durban FilmMart in 2016. This year Swift, together with the department of trade and industry, sent an all-female delegation to attend the Berlin International Film Festival.
“I nurture emerging female talent in the South African film and television industry.
“The number of women who become victims of sexual abuse in the film industry is alarming – and they’re abused by well-known, celebrated producers, directors and so forth. As women we feel unsafe on sets.
“We also address the difference in pay – women get paid far less than what men get paid, regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry, and that’s not okay,” Hlubi says.
The organisation recently launched the powerful #ThatsNotOk campaign, a public service announcement which illustrates what sexual harassment in the film industry is and how it affects women – giving a visual reference to both victim and perpetrator.
THE INSPIRING YOUTH
She loves what young people in the industry are doing – they have talent and resilience, she says.
“It’s so exciting. Watching young people be great is truly a blissful experience. I love the youth, I love innovation – they break the rules and make us see things differently,” she says. “They are so in touch with what’s relevant to them, and what’s relevant to them is what our future holds. So I’m constantly working with them, I’m inspired by them because I’m a lifelong learner – and that means learning from everything and everyone.”
LOVE, FIGHTS AND BABIES
When the celebrated actress isn’t on set, training her toned body (she runs, cycles and is a firm believer in healthy eating) or busy advocating for equality, she’s at home with her husband of almost three years, Kirsten Arnold (39), a financial consultant.
DRUM covered the couple’s wedding and after the ceremony Hlubi told us she was “done with weddings. After this, it’s babies” (Bring us our makoti, 12 November 2015).
And that’s exactly what Hlubi and Kirsten want now – babies!
“Argh, we can’t wait to have children. It’s the perfect time and we’re ready,” she says excitedly.
Marriage has been interesting, Hlubi shares. “He’s my best friend and we make a good team. We have different goals, dreams and visions but we have the same love for life and for the future. We don’t hold each other back. We call each other out, but he’s my home.”
When asked if she and Kirsten ever fight, Hlubi doesn’t even pause to think about it. “Yes! We fight about everything – all the things couples fight about.
“But if those disagreements weren’t there I’d be worried. It’s all about validation and wanting to be seen and heard as individuals – it’s constant communication.”
The one thing Hlubi never expected from married life, but has learnt over time, is that just like most things in life you have to put in extra effort and invest in it to get the desired results.
“You have to build it. If you want a good body you go to the gym and eat well, you know what I mean?
“You have to invest in it if you want it to work. It’s the same with relationships.”
She can’t wait for the next stage of their lives – to have little ones running around the house one day.