One-on-one with Uzalo’s Thuthuka Mthembu

Uzalo’s Thuthuka Mthembu
Uzalo’s Thuthuka Mthembu

As one of the youngest kids on the TV industry block, everything fell into place organically for the 22-year-old Thuthuka Mthembu when she got a call for a job on the award-winning show Uzalo in 2018, just a few days after her auditions. The Joburg born-and-bred dynamo is living out her dreams in Durban, where she says, “I’ve got roots that stem all the way to this side, so you could say that it’s where I’m ‘originally’ from. A true definition of being exactly where you need to be, when you need to be.”  

READ MORE: Thuthuka Mthembu on booking her first role and time on SABC1’s Uzalo

When I started acting…

Uzalo is my first acting gig. I’ve always had the desire and passion for being on-screen. I did commercials and features as an extra as a child, but Uzalo is the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my television career.

My experience on Uzalo

It’s been an amazing learning experience. I’ve never had to act before, and now that I’m playing such an incredible role is a huge learning experience for me. I learn something new every day. It’s been 18 months but there’s always something new to learn. Not just learning about “Nonka”, but about the industry too.

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Nonka has taught me a lot…

It has been a very emotional journey. It’s been a constant rollercoaster within me, constantly wanting to show up for her and to do justice to who she is and how I portray her. In terms of similarities, we are both very stubborn. Once I know or feel something, I know it and that’s it [chuckles]. She’s stubborn, and sometimes that’s to her detriment, because people often think she doesn’t know anything. But I’d like to believe my stubbornness is positive [chuckles].

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Some stumbling blocks I’ve come across…

My biggest challenge has been learning to be more kind to myself when I feel like I didn’t show up sometimes. And by that, I mean having to portray an emotion or my performance. I read the script and I have an idea of how I want to show it, but sometimes things happen on set that don’t allow for me to reach that potential I see for myself. I try to move with grace, and to understand that every day is another chance to do better. I don’t really see it as a stumbling block, but as something to work around.

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Know the people in the industry…

It’s not enough to just know the people in front of the camera because we don’t give people their break. There are a lot of people who have the power and are responsible for giving people jobs; you need to know who those people are. Be willing to do the work because it’s not as glamorous as it looks.