'What would you do if you were in Mandisa's shoes?' - The Wife's Zikhona Sodlaka on her role

Actress Zikhona Sodlaka is having fun with Mandisa on The Wife
Actress Zikhona Sodlaka is having fun with Mandisa on The Wife

She’s unforgettable. From when she started strutting her stuff as Zukiswa on Tsha Tsha, to when she played Ayanda in Shooting Stars to her current role as Mandisa on Showmax’s The Wife, she gives it her all.

Which is why the roles keep coming. She’s been on Rhythm City, Soul City, Intsika, After 9, Entabeni and countless other local dramas and television shows.

She wanted to learn all there was to the industry. Now she’s one of the nominees for the DSTV Viewers Choice Awards for Best Actress.

Zikhona Sodlaka always plays relatable roles. She’s currently on The Wife telling the story of a vulnerable woman who is not afraid to share her scars with everybody.

She tells us about what it means playing Mandisa and getting the DSTV Viewers Choice nomination.

She says this is the first nomination that involves her supporters participating in her winning the award and she is looking forward to the results. It is always a nice compliment to get a nod from the people that you are working with. “It is a nice confidence booster to know that I am on the right path,” she tells Drum.

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“I have never had a nomination for something along these lines. The awards that I have been part of are the traditional ones, never the ones that involve the supporters. This is the first one that my supporters can contribute towards. Being nominated is just an affirmation that you are still doing good work. Fortunately, with the work that we do, we get to see the people who love it every single day, who recognise that your work is lovely,” Zikhona says. 

She says the award itself is a different thing altogether, it is almost like the people that she works with, her peers, and the channel is giving her a nod and it is as if they see the work that she does.

She’s enjoying Mandisa on The Wife. She’s a fun and unorthodox character that speaks to every woman. Zikhona says Mandisa lives among us all and when she was told that she was going to play the role, she knew how to tell the story.

“I have enjoyed every single minute of it, I have enjoyed the trickiness of the role, and I have enjoyed playing outside of the rules. I have enjoyed how outside of the box Mandisa is and how I then have to live outside of the box because of her.

“I got an understanding of who the character was before, in the book of Hlomu: The Wife written by Dudu Busani-Dube so the description of how I should play her came from the book, and all I had to do was just to merge that with the script consequently.”

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It’s been way too much fun, she says. “She is so much fun to watch because I think she reminds us of so much that we wish we could be able to say and just be confident in who we are in the perfection and imperfections, to just be everything that you believe you are and just live out loud.

“Some of the tricks on how to play the character is in the little secret magic that I can’t disclose to you because that’s where the magic is. But one thing about Mandisa is how highly relatable she is in all the troubles she experiences in her life. She is very vocal about her life problems, she doesn’t hide them, and her problems are similar to problems that we struggle with in real life as women,” she says.

Zikhona says in every woman’s contact list, if it is not them that is struggling with something that is similar to what Mandisa is struggling with, they know someone who is. That’s why she loves telling Mandisa’s story.

“I think that is why every single woman takes her home with her. Because you can’t forget it and the reason why you can’t forget it is that you can relate immediately,” she says.

"The humanness of her errors and her struggles are the things that make her normal to us, that even if she is addressing such big issues and in a way that you think she should’ve not addressed it like that, but it all comes to what would you do if you were in her shoes."

She had to put herself in a position where she needed Mandisa’s voice to be exactly everything we don’t get to see and hear every day.

“I don’t get the opportunity to play the same character twice because I like to choose my characters very carefully because when I throw myself into telling the story, I tell the story, I don’t make like I am telling a story. And I like some of the advantages we have as actors, to jump into someone else’s story and make it your own and get the nation and the world to see a perspective that they wouldn’t have otherwise seen and decided whether they like it or not.”

Mandisa is Nqobizitha’s partner, one of the Zulu brothers played by Abdul Khoza. Zikhona says Abdul is one of the most polished actors South Africa has.

“What a privilege it is to get to share a stage with that person. It is just God’s plan to meet someone who has no limit to his skill and talent and has the heart to hold my hand and we do it together. The joy of storytelling is that most of the time is teamwork and effort.  You need to take your co-stars along with you and go on this joy ride together and in this case, Abdul is one of my teammates who just carried me the whole way with his big heart and unending talent,” Zikhona says.

When she’s not on set, she’s working on producing her upcoming show. She’s excited because she’s always been fascinated by creating and producing and her dream is finally coming through. She is also working on something that will be on Netflix soon, which she says people must watch out for.

We certainly will.  

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