Ncebakazi Pilingane on playing Eva on Diepcity and the road to her breakthrough

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Talented actress Ncebakazi Pilingane gave South Africans a stellar performance as Eva on DiepCity.
Talented actress Ncebakazi Pilingane gave South Africans a stellar performance as Eva on DiepCity.

She was determined to become uMamfundisi. It didn't matter to her that the pastor already had a wife and a happy marriage. 

She wanted in and did everything she could to break the couple apart. But even though she gave it her all, she only put in a few cracks in the marriage, she didn't manage to get rid of the wife. 

Ncebakazi Pilingane (29) played Eva on Diepcity and her character is one fans will never forget. 

On the show, she got into a heated argument with Asa, the pastor's wife (played by Zikhona Bali) and ended up unconscious in a burning shack. Her fate is unknown. 

Ncebakazi says she is grateful for the role as it has made the last seven years of hustling all worth it.

“Eva and I have a fighting and strong spirit and I enjoyed playing her because she challenged me. Eva is a psychopath, and she stands her ground if she wants something, she will go after it. An artist should always have an inner cupboard that they go into when a role needs specific things. In this case Eva’s character required for me to be evil because she was a wolf in sheep skin.”

To play the role well she watched psychological films such as Obsessed, she also drew inspiration from Moshidi Motshekgwa who played Naomi on Rhythm City.

She says that the response from South Africans has been both amazing and terrifying. Some people are impressed by her acting while others have threatened her because of her exceptional portrayal of Eva.

“It has been remarkable, and no one saw it coming. Because I thought I was just a passing character with no storyline.”

Her talent comes from her family. She's been exposed to spiritually gifted women who had exceptional skills in art and song writing her whole life.

Acting, singing, literature and writing are some of her many talents.

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Ncebakazi grew up in Kraaifontein, Western Cape. Her grandmother and the elder ladies in her family were traditional healers who would sit outside the house playing music through umrhube and uhadi while also showing off their dancing skills through ukuxhentsa.

“I grew up around songs (ukombela), praise poetry and I believe that I was born with the gift of the arts. I remember there was a ceremony at home (Intlombe) and I participated in the songs that they were singing I didn’t understand, kwakho into ethi xhensta yombela (there was something that told me to sing and dance.) I didn't understand then but over the years all I was interested in was reading and literature as well as music.”

It was in Grade 5 during Arts and Culture class that she realised that her calling was in performance. At the age of 15 she co-wrote her first play and was part of a group that represented South Africa in Seattle, Washington D.C at a multi-cultural exchange programme.

Ncebakazi, also known as Nash, is also a jazz singer that writes music.

“The journey of becoming an actress has been bitter-sweet, sometimes you would ask God for a way forward. The beautiful thing is knowing that you are gifted and chosen to be a certain person. I believe that God uses artists as vessels to tap into people’s hearts. At some point I questioned God because nothing was working out in my favour.”

She's had a lot of obstacles thrown at her. She published her first book, Life is a Performance, when she was 19 and she couldn’t distribute the book.

“I struggled for a very long time; I didn’t know what to do with it since it was published. I come from an uneducated family, they were shocked that I could write a book and I just didn’t have the right information about how I could sell and distribute it."

Then she tried to pursue her studies in acting at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) but had to cut that short after she had a stroke. She's all better now. 

She then went on to AFDA where she was funded by the Jacob Zuma Foundation. But during her second year, they notified her that they couldn’t further pay her fees due to a shortage in funds.

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“They were struggling to pay because my course was expensive. I will always be grateful to Bab Msholozi for taking care of me as though I was his daughter.”

After struggling to find work to make ends meet, she went to the Market Theatre lab where she got her training and furthered her studies.

It was during this time that she was haunted by a sexual assault incident that had happened to her a few years earlier. 

She tried to get through the memory flash and the incident but it started affecting her studies as she would feel triggered during classes whenever the subject of sexual violence will be brought up.

“I thought I was okay but over the years it affected me, one of my classmates wrote a play where a young woman was being sexually assaulted in the bushes and it brought back a lot of memories that I wasn’t ready to fight through. I didn’t attend my graduation at the market theatre because I was sinking in depression and alcohol.”

After graduating she decided to move back home in Kraaifontein so that she could heal.

Things started to finally look up for her and she landed the role, which she hopes will launch her screen career. 

"People thought I wouldn’t make it because of the way that things were going for me, but God and my ancestors made a way for me. God prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemies." 

She is a mother to an 8-year-old boy who she named Zivile. Her son was born on the same day of her grandmother’s funeral, and she believes that her grandmother lives through him.

“My son is very special to me because I almost died while giving birth, but my son and I made it through. He is my inspiration, and he has made me strong, and I believe that my grandmother has come back to me through him. 19 January is very important day to me. My grandmother continues to live through him and through me."

She is very passionate about the Isixhosa language, and she says that she is proud to be an instrument through which people get to see the beauty of IsiXhosa. Actresses such as Brenda Ngxoli, Vathiswa Ndarha, Masa Mbangeni, Thina Jaxa and Velapho Mjongeni have been inspirations to her.

Ncebakazi wants to pursue radio to do storytelling, she wants her literature to be read across South Africa.

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