‘Acting is not a popularity contest, it’s work’ - Zikhona Sodlaka

Zikhona Sodlaka
Zikhona Sodlaka

What drew you to the character of Boniswa on Housekeepers?

I try to not play the same character twice. As times change, it’s my job to be the face of who the current woman is.  Boniswa Zwide, to me, is someone people would talk about, but not with her. She makes big and brave leaps in life and speaks her mind.

I wanted to feel what it would be like to be that brave, and make viewers feel that too.

What have been the highlights and challenges of portraying Boniswa?

Working with director Amanda Lane, and sharing a stage with my unquestionably super talented co-stars Nthati Moshesh and Connie Chiume, is something I’m grateful for. Also, getting into writer Portia Gumede's colourful mind, through Boniswa, was also a highlight.

As an actress, you perform at your best when the ensemble is supportive – that's exactly what the cast of Housekeepers were. As legends, they shared the stage with us gracefully, carrying no superiority with them, as much they could if they wanted.

However, productions are now shot in half the time they used to take to complete a season. This means we’re all thrown in the deep end and are forced to do a rushed job yet still produce a beautiful product.

Having been in the industry for over 12 years, what are some of the major lessons you’ve learnt?

·      To take my job seriously.

·      Let the praising come from other people – it means more.

·      Don't take myself too seriously.

·      Keep on sharpening my tools.

·      The work of an artist is as important as scientist’s.

·      Men still get paid more, even in supporting roles.

·      We need to be legislated. It's a free for all, unfortunately, and that's a pass for oppressive behaviour.

READ MORE: Thando Thabethe on her new role on The Housekeepers

When it comes to longevity, what would you say has stood you in good stead?

I think it's easy when you know what you are and what you are not. I am an actor. That means I am not any other thing that fame may impose on me. It's not a popularity contest, contrary to popular belief. It’s work. Watch the ones that did it before you, adopt what worked for them and sprinkle your own personality to the rest.

What four things do people not know about Zikhona?

·      I sing. I love it more than many other things.

·      I'm a dancer, too. It's my first love.

·      I’m a bit of an activist. It's inevitable in my line of work to stand for something.

·      I'm for fair treatment in the workspace. 

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Theatre or TV? And why?

Both are incomparable for me. On film, one feels a different connection with the audience to when on stage. Stage is certainly immediate. You feel the people – you carry them with you. In every single second they feel every breath you take as if they are on stage with you.

On film, you have to know viewers feel the same without seeing them. It calls for a strict discipline. Imagination must constantly be alive so you remember the journey of the person that you're playing, even if you’re shooting out of sequence. Remember that there's an audience that is travelling with you as you tell the story. I think this makes it harder.

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