Growing up with famous parents did not stop Bahumi Mhlongo from getting into the industry. In fact, she is definitely carving her own path.
She has had roles including playing the young Lebo Mathosa on BET Africa’s Dream: The Lebo Mathosa Story.
Now she plays Noxee on Grown Woman, a new Mzansi Magic show that premieres on 3 February.
“Noxee is a ball of fire, but she is naïve and she kind of resents her mom for her decisions.”
Noxee’s mom, Tina Hlatshwayo played by Linda Sokhulu, starts a relationship with a much younger man Ra (played by Bohang Moeko) shortly after her after her husband Sbu dies.
“My excitement about this year is off the charts,” Bahumi tells Drum.
“Playing Noxee was really exciting. The storyline is really honest and it was great to be part of a comedy because right now our industry hasn’t had a lot of comedies, it is mostly dramas and soapies. It was really exciting to be part of a production like this. I still get goosebumps when I think about the cast I was working alongside. I grew up watching people like Mam Nandi Nyembe and now I get to work with her.”
An interesting thing about Bahumi’s casting for this show is that she accidently found out that her mother, Palesa Madikwane, also has a role on the same show.
“I was really worried about my street cred,” she laughs.
“So we were casually chatting and I was telling her about this gig I had bagged and she told me about hers. Then we put two and two together and realized that we had been cast to play mother and daughter.
“The following day I found out the character I was going to play was not the daughter of my mom’s character. That was a relief because that meant were not necessarily going to be on set at the same time.”
She explains that she was worried about whether or not her mother is going to be able to not “mother” her on set.
“I wasn’t sure if she would want to tell me what to do and go all maternal on me. I have never wanted to work with my parents. Don’t get me wrong, they’re cool and all, but I want to keep them as my parents and not my colleagues.
“And just as I feared, the first time we were on set together she came in so loud, and she was saying she had brought me food. Then she started fixing my shirt. When lunch time came, there she was sending me around and told me to dish up for her and I was like ‘yho bandla nangu lomama uyangithuma emsebenzini’ (oh gosh, this woman is sending me around at work).”
She says in her younger years she did have an element of avoiding her parents in the industry because she did not want people thinking she is getting work because of them.
“I put in the work and the prayers. But I also know that people will always talk, regardless of what you do. I do not need any validation from anyone. The only validation I need is from myself and God.”
She says she cannot wait for viewers to see all her projects that will air this year.
“Last year was busy and this year all that hard work and those blessings are taking shape and manifesting.
“I also have a new podcast called Open Book With Bahumi and I officially released the first episode last week. I would like to release something every week, but if I don’t have anything to say then I won’t. For now, it is just me sharing my thoughts and perspective on things. In the long run, I would like to start having guests. The podcast is focused on wellness and all around growth.”
It is available on YouTube, Apple Podcast and Spotify.
“I would also like to get into fashion. If there is anything I have learnt from my parents is that you should never box yourself. To this day, I cannot tell you what my father does for a living. I am truly just a creative and I thrive in creative spaces.”
Being the daughter and granddaughter of such famous South Africans, Bahumi has learnt how best to live her life, in and out of the public eye.
“Growing up, I saw the perks and the dangers of being super out there. The Bible says guard your heart. I am generally exposed because of the nature of my chosen career, but I know there are things I need to keep to myself.
“If there will be no benefit, then there is not need to be shouting and announcing things. There needs to be a balance between being vulnerable and real with audiences and being guarded enough to protect yourself.”
On her father’s reality show, Living The Dream With Somizi, she had a conversation with him about changing her surname from her mother’s maiden name to his. However, they did not agree on the how because Somizi wanted Bahumi to participate in traditional ceremonies and perform certain rituals for her to be introduced and recognized by the Mhlongo ancestors.
Bahumi on the other hand stood firm in her religious convictions, saying she did not want to partake in ancestral worship.
She says it was not an easy conversation, but she knew it was coming and necessary to have.
“I take my belief very seriously. For me, it is not just about the religion of Christianity, but rather a true conviction. I knew I had to honour God by honouring my parents. I knew I had to have the conversation with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
“I respect my parents, but as an individual I had to come to terms with my own conviction. And I wasn’t defensive towards my dad because God does not need to be defended. I just knew I had to stand my ground and be resolute.”
She is using the Mhlongo surname even though legally, at home affairs, she remains Madisakwane.
“No rituals were performed. We are all respecting each other’s different convictions. Where it ended for the viewers is where it ended for us too. I know there are people who may think I was disrespectful, but the truth is that I am an adult and legally I could do whatever I wanted. But I wanted to honour my parents and I think that was pretty respectful.”