It's not often that an actor walks out of university straight into a leading role.
But that's what happened to him and since then, he has just been riding the wave to the top. Actor Wiseman Zitha (26) considers himself to be “one of the lucky ones”, he tells Drum.
It can take actors years to get their big break but it worked out differently for him. He graduated from drama school at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and, soon after, he got a leading role as Musa Baloyi on South Africa’s very first Xitsonga TV series Giyani: Land of Blood.
He walked off one production set and straight into another when he got the role of Ndemedzo on Muvhango. He then made waves when he joined The River to play the character of Mondli.
He's made a name for himself and it's only been three years.
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Wiseman grew up in a small village in Limpopo and, coming from what he describes as a “poor background,” he couldn’t easily admit that his dream was to become an actor.
His father was a teacher, and he was expected to follow suit. But by Grade 11, Wiseman knew he wanted to study drama.
“When you are from the villages you tend to think that the village life is the only life that is out there. You are not open to dreaming. The only people you look up to are nurses, teachers, and doctors, you don’t even imagine yourself being on television," he shares.
When he got accepted into TUT, he told his parents he was going there to study journalism. It was only in his second year when they saw his results that he revealed he was studying drama.
Wiseman's acting debut in a breakout series that marks South Africa’s first Xitsonga show was an opportunity he deems "a big deal".
“I think it is the best thing ever, it’s always amazing to see someone speak the same language you do on TV and understand they come from the same background you do. It gives you hope that you can reach the same heights if you work hard,” he says.
The River also allowed Mondli to speak his home language Xitsonga, but "a lot of people were astonished at the language".
For this reason, Wiseman believes it’s important to have Xitsonga actors embrace the language.
On The River, he portrayed a dramatic Mondli, but outside the characters he plays, Wiseman is a normal village boy, which made it easy for him to portray Ndemedzo on Muvhango; a Venda village boy with whom he shares a background.
But one thing Wiseman has in common with Musa on Giyani is his ambition. "I am very ambitious, hardworking guy who strives for success.”
He is inspired by many people in the industry, including the late Shona Ferguson who gave him a nod by hiring him on Rockville.
"When I was in Grade 11 he is one of the people who inspired me, I wanted to be like him," he says.
Outside of being busy shooting season 2 of Giyani: Land of Blood, Wiseman enjoys going to the gym to prepare himself mentally for his duties.
Here are three things you probably did not know about Wiseman
1. His side hustle in varsity was doing people's hair.
2. He is also fluent in Venda.
3. In addition to acting, he is a model and Youtuber.