Erased is a new controversial drama- series on Moja Love. The highly anticipated show tackles issues of rape, sex work, greed and fame.
While the show is clear about what it's about, South Africans were shocked when they saw the first few episodes.
Drum goes behind the scenes and gets to know some of the lead actors behind Erased.
Mandisa (21) plays the role of Tiny, a young girl who was raised by a white family. Her mom is a domestic worker and the family she works for takes Tiny in after her father rejects her.
In the story Tiny is raped by a family friend of the adopted family.
The family does not believe her, and they send her to therapy and realise later that she has fallen pregnant by her rapist. Tiny is also product of rape and despite feeling like her daughter Lulu is a curse she still loves her.
Tiny’s mom was raped by men she doesn’t know in the bush and her mom’s husband resented her. Tiny struggles living with her adopted family because the rapist still visits, and she leaves and becomes a sex worker.
On the first day on the job, she is raped by a client. She has been through a lot, but she is strong.
Mandisa is in awe of Tiny. “Despite all Tiny has been through, she wants to be a better mom to Lulu. She taught me a lot.”
At first Mandisa felt uncomfortable portraying the role of a rape victim.
“I didn’t want to go into the set without doing research. I find it offensive to portray a rape victim without understanding. So, I asked a few rape survivors, and I picked up their habits in order to portray the character.”
The Pietermaritzburg born Mandisa is doing final year in drama studies at Durban University of Technology.
She also recently shot Hush Money, a mini drama series where she plays Nandi Buthelezi whose life changes after one tragedy.
She also plays Liyanda on SABC 1 drama series Uzalo who is obsessed with Fikile’s man Sbu.
“I have done theatre, shot a few films but currently these are her biggest roles I have ever played,” she says.
Thabiso (33) is a Business Management graduate but acting is his first love. He plays the role of Tshepo, husband to Mamtshali who lives in the village while he shares a shack in the Vaal with transgender girlfriend Honey.
Tshepo is also in the process of transitioning from being a man to a woman and questions his sexuality.
Tshepo owns a vegetable business and is a good, kind and respectful guy, but his kindness lands him in trouble.
Thabiso has had many acting roles, he first played Dr Siwe on Generations: The Legacy.
He then got a part to play Dr Modise on SABC 2 drama Keeping Score. He has also starred on Isithembiso as a Pastor, then a police detective on the film Imposter and played an international promoter on the Lebo Mathosa drama series on BET.
Tina (50) plays the leading role of Danai Moringa, 63-year-old sex worker.
At a young age, Danai was rejected by her mother and was left with her grandmother.
Young and still in need of guidance, she is naïve and grabs anything that comes her way. She goes and finds her mother who rejects her because she remarried and doesn't think her husband would be happy to welcome Danai into the fold.
So Danai goes away and makes new friends and is introduced to sex work as a teenager. “She is a young 14-year-old prostitute embracing her life,” Tina says.
Like most girls, Danai dreamt of finding the perfect man and having a fairy-tale ending.
She had the dream of meeting Prince charming, and she does, through her work.
“He is a handsome pastor that sweeps her off her feet. He finds her on the street and he takes her to his empire, he proposes to her and promises her the world. But she didn’t see the dark side of the man. The darkness was well suppressed. The man is a pastor and she becomes Mamfundisi. The day she is ordained, the tables are turned,” says Tina.
Vusi (43) plays the role of Pastor Mhlongo who comes from a complicated family.
He thinks his grandparents were his biological parents. His sister committed suicide and he finds a note and learns that she was his biological mother. He eventually develops anger issues over the secrets his grandparents kept from him.
But he tries to better his life. He comes across the beautiful Danai, but because of his childhood trauma he becomes abusive towards Danai. He would remind her that she was nothing and just a sex worker. Vusi says acting besides Tina Jaxa was a daunting task.
“I have watched her for many years, but laying her husband meant I had to up my game.
"I had doubts, but she made me comfortable enough to give it my all. It was as though we had met before. She was not threatening and did not bring her years of experience to the table, she allowed us to be equals,” he says.
Vusi has acted on Paradise Stop where he played an inkabi.
On Scandal he plays Stivovo, who is into pyramid schemes and later becomes a community leader.
Josias Dos Moleele
Josias (47) plays the role of Nkosiyabo.
He has big dreams that never materialised, and he lies to everyone, promising them the world. Nkosiyabo takes girls from KZN and brings them to Joburg promising they would be stars. His dream was to be a theatre producer but his career never quite flourished.
He lives a life of pretense in a borrowed car and mansion. Josias says portraying the role of Nkosiyabo was slightly easier for him because he has seen his behaviour in close industry friends. “I have seen this sort of thing happen in real life where young girls are taken from KZN because they want to be stars and end up stuck and in trouble in Joburg,” he says.
“Nkosiyabo shows them Joburg theatre and tours the city but never makes them stars. Some of the girls end up in Manelis’s brothel, who says for them to survive, they need to become sex workers,” he adds.
Josias studied drama at TUT.
He then taught at TUT for a few years before leaving the lecture halls to become a fulltime actor, director and writer. He started writing behind the scenes, he wrote for Teens on a Tight Rope and for comedy series Nomzamo and Skwizas. But he still enjoys teaching. Currently Josias lectures Drama at the University of Pretoria part time.
Kwandi plays Zibuyile Xulu, an 18 year old girl from the farms. She loves singing, dancing and finds a breakthrough with Nkosiyabo. She starts changing her dress sense and way she looks.
She comes from a respected family and she wants to keep her dignity. Her family was proud when she was hand picked to be one of the few girls to perform in a theatre production in Johannesburg. She itching to sing and perform and she will do anything to fulfil her goals and support her family through being a star.
“Every 18-year-old girl is gullible; you have everything figured out until you realise you are a little fish in a huge ocean,” she says.
Kwandi was born and raised in Umlazi and she has always known that she would be an actress. She even dropped out of journalism studies to pursue drama at the Durban University of Technology.