Nthati Moshesh on her unholy Isono lead role

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Nthati Moshesh plays Mother Mary on BET's new drama, Isono.
Nthati Moshesh plays Mother Mary on BET's new drama, Isono.

There's a new villain in town and her foes are quaking in their boots.

Mother Mary (Mary Ndlovu) on BET's new drama, Isono is a force to be reckoned with. And she wasted no time to show us just what she's made of when she killed someone with her bare hands in the very first episode.

This is a "woman of God", a community leader who runs a child adoption service, but no one dares to challenge her because she simply disposes of people who get in her way.

She's quite a character, and it must have been quite hectic for the actress who plays the role. We chat to Nthati Moshesh (51) about being Mary.

Read more| 'Lockdown’s' Nthati Moshesh on her hard times: 'I was broke and living on handouts'

Your character is intensely evil. How do you mentally prepare to take on such a role?

Mother Mary has taken me out of my comfort zone, it has been a page-turner.

I hope the audience and viewers at home will find this original daily drama gripping and intriguing. My previous roles Mamohato, Thandeka and Masabata had traits of Mary.


What do you love and hate about this character?

The show is about duality of human nature and secrets. Mary has a good and a bad side.

Mary is powerful and will do whatever it takes to ensure her empire’s operation runs smoothly and she will do anything to protect her cubs, like any mother should.

I do not hate anything about Mary, except maybe exploring her dark side.

What's the biggest challenge of such a role?

The biggest challenge is portraying the opposite of who Nthati is and ensuring that I, Nthati do not judge the decisions Mary makes.

What emotions do you think your character is going to evoke?

Mother Mary is going to evoke a lot of mixed emotions - a bit of love as the mother of the nation and community builder who cares for orphans and maybe a bit of hate as she can order a murder without blinking.

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What unforgettable, special characters have you played over the years?

I can never single out any role or character - I have played traces of Mary before.

The people I get to work with is what makes it special and different. It's about the chemistry with the crew and cast on set and the magic we are going to deliver together.

I believe I still have a lot a to offer in my acting career. It’s about creating a character that is inhabiting Nthati’s voice and emotions. 

When you're not on set, what do you like doing?

I am thrilled that the country has moved to level one, as I enjoy travelling. I also enjoy golf, tennis and spending time with my son who is preparing for his final matric exams. However, I am a terrible cook.

What advice do you have for aspiring actors? 

Do not get distracted by what doesn’t matter. Don’t forget your dream, goal and vision.

The role of women in the film and TV industry is needed now more than ever. We cannot rely on men to tell our narrative, so we need more female producers, writers and directors. Let us continue to celebrate our legends.

You are considered to be a legendary actress - how have you achieved this?  

It has been such a rewarding journey. I love what I do and yes, it has been challenging at some points. What is important is I have celebrated my God-given talent, celebrated who Nthati is.

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