Five minutes with actress Nelisa Mchunu - 'My character's behaviour gets crazier with each episode'

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Nelisa Mchunu plays Bazothini on Isifiso.
Nelisa Mchunu plays Bazothini on Isifiso.

She’s known for her role as the funny and loveable Fikile on Uzalo but actress Nelisa Mchunu is showing her range as a performer as she plays the “murderous” Bazothini on Isifiso.

“Bazo is different from any role I have ever played, I was really out of my comfort zone,” she tells Drum.

“She is murderous and as much as I want to try and justify it for her, can you really justify murder? She has built up a lot of resentment towards her sister and in no time, it is just a downhill spiral for her. Her behaviour gets crazier with each episode,” the Wits University trained actress says.

Isipho is Chris Q Radebe’s debut show as an executive producer, Nelisa says, and being a part of it was great.

“Chris did an amazing job. I am familiar with his work from when we were both on Uzalo, but this is just brilliant. The cast is amazing and just so much talent and hard work from everyone. I also truly appreciate the great feedback from viewers as well.”

Uzala was her big break into the industry after she had a role as an extra on SABC 3’s Isidingo before it was discontinued.

She also played Phumzile on Ses’ Top La, a role that was masterfully played by the late Busi Lurayi before.

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“I won’t lie, was pretty nervous going into a character like Phumzile after Busi played it so well. Recasts are never easy, especially one that was so brilliantly portrayed. But I had to own it and play Phumzile the way I interpreted her. The truth is, even if I wanted to, I could never play Phumzile the way Busi played her. I gave Phumzile my all and thankfully the producers were happy.”

Though she has never found herself to be funny, she enjoys watching comedy and says her role as Fikile on Uzalo prepared her for Phumzile on Ses’Top La.

“My character on Uzalo was the comic relief of the show and I enjoyed it. There I learnt things like comedic timing which is very important and that made it easier coming into a comedy like Ses’Top La.”

She says she has always wanted to be an actress.

“I can distinctly remember watching TV as a 10-year-old then going to stand in front of the big mirror in my mom’s room to act out what I had just seen on TV. But it was not until high school where I did drama as a subject that I realized and decided that this was the career I wanted to pursue,” she says.

She had a stint modelling and even doing pageants, but she is glad that did not pan out because she loves her job.

Read more | Uzalo’s Nelisa Mchunu talks about her family and life in the spotlight

“I think as people we sometimes take it for granted when we are able to do what we love for a living. I get to live out my dream and that is a privilege that a lot of people do not have. It is a huge blessing and I thank God for it.”

When applying for university, drama was her first choice and law was her second.

“I think I would have been a bad-ass attorney,” she laughs.

The Durban-born actress adds that cooking is her secret talent that not many people know about.

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