She's bowing out on a high note.
Actress Petronella Tshuma put all of herself into her role on Rhythm City. The etv soapie crew shot their last scenes on Friday, 21 May. The show will still be on air until July but for the actors, actresses and staff, the curtain has closed.
The day after shooting their last scenes, Petronella – who has played Pearl Genaro, David Genaro’s daughter for the past four years – won a SAFTA for Best Actress in a TV Soap.
“This award means a lot after so much passion, sweat, tears and hard work. It means being recognised, to be seen, it says to me you are doing well, you have done well and you are on the right path. Continue working hard, you have to work harder now to prove to yourself to yourself,” Petronella says.
Petronella recalls how excited and nervous she was on the day of the awards show.
“I was excited for anything. I thought to myself, I would love to win but then again, I didn’t want to get too hyped up,” she says.
Minutes before the winner was announced, Petronella was shaking while surrounded by family and friends who wanted her to win so bad.
And when her name was announced, it was a humbling and affirming experience.
She's enjoyed being Pearl, who certainly took after her father, David Genaro. She rubbed viewers the wrong way.
Petronellas says it is still shocking how people hated Pearl online and would say mean things about her.
But she admits that at first she was affected by it but learnt to live with it.
“People dislike the character so much that they would say Rhythm City should get rid of this character. But face to face I was loved and embraced,” she says with a laugh.
Rhythm City also won Best Soap on Saturday. It is indeed a bittersweet goodbye for the team.
“I am going to miss Ubuntu at Rhythm City. We worked as collective from top to the bottom.
“It was like family. We became such a unit especially as it is rare to walk into a production and have such peace, from the crew,” she explains.
As someone who has been in the industry for many years, since the days of Backstage and the inception etv as a channel, Petronella says she's grown as a person.
“I learnt that I come with responsibility. Younger people are looking up to me, [to help with] guiding them. Being genuine and being kind to everyone from extras to cleaners."
It was a pleasurable environment to be in, she says. During her years on the show, she became a mother of two and the experience was not daunting at all. "People have left shows after falling pregnant. To actually have a show that had my back and supported me through it is truly amazing."
It has been an emotional time for viewers and production team who have worked tirelessly to bring the show to life for all these years.
Talking about what the next chapter looks like for her, Petronella says, “Greater and bigger things are ahead. No door closes for no reason. God knows why certain doors have to close. I am optimistic and excited for the future."