She's best known for her role as Precious in the second season of the SABC1’s drama series, A Place Called Home – a role which earned her a nomination for the 2010 SAFTA Awards for best supporting actress in a drama.
She's also had roles on several well-known television shows such as Mtunzini.com, Soul City, The River, and Zabalaza.
Admittedly, Nolwazi Shange hasn't been in the spotlight lately but she assures us she didn't leave the industry. Instead, she's worked as a casting director, a voice-over artist, and a producer.
But now is the right time for her to return to the small screen and she's delighted to be back after her break.
The talented actress plays Sibongile Dlomo in Mzansi Magic’s new drama series Mzali Wami.
“It came at the perfect time, you know,” Nolwazi says.
"And it is just so exciting to be in a show like this. Kodwa indlela okwenzeke ngayo (the way it happened) is not something I would have conspired but it feels good and natural."
Nolwazi’s latest character will be her first leading role as an adversary, and she believes audiences will enjoy it.
She plays a woman who stole another woman’s baby at a hospital on the same day she lost her unborn child. Her past comes back to haunt her, unravelling the truth about a dark secret she's been keeping for years.
“USibongile uyakhala uyakhala ku le show (Sibongile is always crying in this show). She has tears for days."
2020 will go down as one of the worst years in history for many but the mother of two says it was probably one of the best years of her life, as she had time to work on herself.
“I completely came into my own. I have this weird connection to who I am and what I want. I really spent a lot of time just working on myself last year.”
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There wasn't anything specific that drove her to take time out and work on herself but she has been through some major changes over the past couple of years.
“I got married and I am now a mother of two kids. In those situations, a lot of times women end up giving up and giving out to people all their time, and you forget to give back to yourself.”
The actress says she's had to remind herself who she is and make decisions that are good for her.
“I had to slowly remember how to priorities myself without being selfish or giving other people attitude – just being able to say this works for me and this doesn’t."
She says this self-discovery journey was important, as it allowed her to start having honest conversations with herself again.
“So, that is where I was. And that is when I decided to take time and just work on myself.”
She also saw a therapist.
“It doesn’t mean you must go only when there's something wrong,” she says. “Kodwa singabantu zindlula ezintweni eziningi (as people we go through a lot of things) and a lot of times we don’t talk about them, especially as black people.
“So, I did all that and I wish I'd made this decision sooner. I am honestly at the best place in my life.”
Nolwazi feels like landing her latest role is some kind of reward for all the work she's done on herself.
She tells Drum she's blessed to be able to do what she loves.
“There are a lot of people who wake up to do jobs they don’t love, just for the sake of making a living. But if it was up to them, they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing. So, being able to wake up and do what I love is such a blessing.”
Her character on Mzali Wami, Sibongile, lost her unborn baby on the very first episode of the show. The actress tells Drum that losing a child is every mother’s worst nightmare.
“I am a mother of two and there is not a single day in my life when I can imagine ukulahlekelwa umntwana (losing a child). It is not something a parent can imagine. It is something that should never happen.”
She hopes she'll be around long enough to see her kids become adults who can take care of themselves.
“I really pray that abantwan’ bami (my kids) are in a position of being self-sufficient so that even when I'm gone, they can carry on with life.”
Nolwazi admits that playing Sibongile can sometimes be a burden.
“Some of her tears are real because of the pain she is in, but at times she just cries so people can feel sorry for her. But crying all the time can be too heavy for me because, at the end of the day, these are my real tears."
The actress says she constantly has to separate herself from her character.
“There are days when you are able to break out of it quickly, and then there are days when you can’t. But I find music to be very therapeutic. It helps me a lot. So, I listened to a lot of music before and after shooting, and then sometimes you just need to get home and sleep it off."