Sophie Lichaba on leading the cast of Lockdown and life in the public eye

Sophie Lichaba
Sophie Lichaba

What have you been up to since we last saw you on our screens? 

So much! My husband and I run Kwa Lichaba Chisa Nyamas, which is doing very well. I’ve also had my own wedding planning business for over 20 years, and am trying to get my own magazine shows funded. I’m also the ambassador for Cook4Life, that’s not just about the food, it’s also about having the right cookware and knowing how to use it. And there are many more ambassadorships to come. 

READ MORE: “I can take whatever you give me – big or small – and make magic out of it,” says Nambitha Ben-Mazwi

Why Lockdown? 

It’s different, exciting and real. I’ve done other shows since Generations as a guest, but producers tend to typecast me and think I should be Queen Moroka forever. My character as Palesa on Lockdown is a 360-degree turn. 

How does it feel to be back in front of the camera? 

It’s amazing. Acting is like travelling, it’s that same feeling of going to a different country from where you were born. You’re just in a different zone. This was one of the most amazing sets I’ve been on, so it was all very exciting. After Lockdown, I have another show coming out called Family Secrets. 

Sophie Lichaba
Sophie Lichaba

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What are the highlights and challenges of portraying Palesa? 

Palesa is the head nurse at Kgotsong Asylum, where Monde’s sister, Katlego, has been transferred. I don’t think it was really ever a challenge. They wrote the part for me, so I identified a lot with her as a woman. She’s gone through a lot. You can see the difference between what she used to look like and what she looks like now, which is my personal journey, my personal battle that I am fighting every day.

How are you dealing with negative comments about your appearance? 

I lost a lot of weight and people started spreading rumours I was dying of Aids. But I don’t really care anymore. I’ve passed that phase. People stare and they whisper in your presence. I think that’s the most insensitive thing anyone can do but they do it and I’ve gotten used to it. I’m still me and that’s the most important thing. I know where I’m going. I know I’m restoring myself. I know I feel 10 times better, 100 times better already. As a Christian, you must be careful what you ask for. I tried everything to lose weight, then came diabetes and stress. 

Sophie Lichaba
Sophie Lichaba

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What three things would you change about the industry? 

I wish our industry was better at seeing the worth of artists. When professional artists come to South Africa, we will motivate and pay dollars. But we don’t have the same fire for local artists, whether they’re musicians or dancers or actors. We don’t get the support we should. 

There are so many producers and creatives coming up with amazing ideas, but there’s not enough support. We need the government to invest more, and we need more places like Showmax that give local content a chance and invest in the industry. 

Catch Lockdown S5 on Showmax from 30 January.

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