On screen, he’s a walking cautionary tale. Nkanyiso Makhanya (26) plays popular Njeza on SABC 1’s biggest daily soap, Uzalo. Njeza made his first appearance on the show in February, at the start of season five, straight out of prison.
Nkanyiso tells Move! that he hopes his character is teaching young people that there are consequences for bad decisions.
HIS ROLE ON UZALO
Nkululeko, known by many as Njeza, is a 20-year-old young man who is very troubled. He has just been released from prison for the murder of his father.
His dad had abused his mom and killed her. Angry and grieving, Njeza decided to take matters into his own hands and killed him. He spent years in jail and is now out and wants to take care of his two younger siblings and make sure they better life than him.
But because he’s got a criminal record, he’s finding it hard to get a job. The youngster now feels cornered to resort to a life of crime for survival.
Nkanyiso says there are elements he admires about his character. “He loves his family and will not allow them to go hungry on his watch. He is also very confident, courageous and never gives up,” says the TV presenter.
He’s received a lot of love for his portrayal of the troubled young man, Nkanyiso says. But he hopes people aren’t just watching it for entertainment but are learning a thing or two from him.
“Njeza took his father’s life and he is paying the consequences of that decision every day. He is now living a life of crime and cannot get a job or go back to school because of his criminal record and lack of money. If he isn’t careful he will end up exactly where he came from – jail.”
NOT SO NEW
This is Nkanyiso’s first TV acting job, but he isn’t exactly new to our screens. He had been involved in plays from the time he was in primary school until he was in Grade 9.
“I have always wanted to be a performer.” In 2011, while he was studying towards a degree in Communication Sciences at the University of Zululand, the star got an internship at 1 KZN TV and not long after that he was hired to present a youth programme.
He presented the programme for three years and in 2015, the media personality got a gig on E. TV’s Craz-e. “The years of presenting have taught me how to handle being famous and recognisable to the public. I was interviewing really big names and many of them were very humble.”
In return, he learned to be humble. He’s always wanted to be on Uzalo and, in fact, auditioned for season one in 2015, but he didn’t make it. He didn’t give up and auditioned again when this role came through.
“I think God was preparing me for this role. The time was not right then. When I got the job last year, I honestly thought my casting agent was kidding. I was excited and nervous at the same time. A lot of the big stars on Uzalo really carry the youngsters on the show. They give good advice and are helpful. I feel blessed.”