Cape Town - She could barely sit still in the cinema. Nqobile Khumalo was a bundle of nerves at the preview of Uncovered, the new political thriller she stars in.
The actress has had plum parts in several drama series, but until recently she’d never seen herself on the silver screen.
In her first feature film Nqobile plays Aluta, a brave woman who takes on a corrupt mining magnate after her sister is murdered.
Starring in Uncovered was a rollercoaster ride. "This movie was emotionally and physically exhausting," Nqobile (27) tells Move!.
"It has love, loss and tragedy, and it’s packed with action. It’s really heavy – but necessary."
The star-studded film, helmed by awardwinning director Zuko Nodada, was shot in Newcastle, KwaZuluNatal.
It follows Aluta as she investigates the death of her journalist sister (Thandeka Nodada, who also served as producer), only to uncover a web of corruption implicating a mining magnate and the town’s mayor (Sthandiwe Kgoroge).
The actress, known for playing Hlengiwe in e.tv’s Scandal!, was over the moon when she got the role last year.
"In this country, respect is not freely given to women. We are harmed and killed."
Nqobile had three months to prepare. She drew inspiration from one of SA’s most formidable politicians.
"I got the role two weeks before Mam’ Winnie Mandela passed on," she says. "She fought for the truth in her own life."
She tears up as she recalls filming the part where she finds her sister’s lifeless body on the floor.
"That was the hardest scene. I use my imagination when I’m performing and so I had to imagine losing my sister or one of my cousins."
ROLES AND GUNS
Getting into character didn’t just make Nqobile sad, it wasn’t easy for her to let go afterwards.
"I was in a very strange mental state. I barely recognised the person I had become. It was weird because I can’t even hurt a fly," she says.
So she sought advice. "I spoke to veteran actors and they said the older I get the more I would be able to 'de-role'."
But for the Eswatini born actress it feels like the other way around. The older she gets the more attached she becomes, she tells us.
To prepare for her role as Aluta, Nqobile underwent weapons training. She’d never pulled a trigger before and it didn’t help that her first experience with firearms was handling an AK47.
"It was so out of my element but I pushed myself. Guns are not a joke," she adds. Her role was challenging, but it also taught her the power women possess.
"We have strength, we can defend ourselves and we can also defend what we believe in."
As a young girl she wanted to study acting but her parents, wouldn’t pay for it. To please them, she enrolled to study journalism while secretly pursuing her passion.
It wasn’t long before she landed her first role as Cindy in Isibaya. Her parents supported her but worried about her financial stability as an actress.
Yet the star says, "My job as a storyteller is to tell people’s stories."
WATCH THE TRAILER FOR UNCOVERED HERE: