When Ntobeko Sishi “religiously” watched Isibaya every night while doing his homework, he never dreamed he would one day be one of the stars on his favourite channel, Mzansi Magic.
“I was the biggest Isibaya fan and I'd watch it while doing my homework every night. It was so inspiring to see a platform being offered to faces I'd never seen on television before,” he says. “I never thought the day would come [when I would be on the channel] so when it did, I was in disbelief”
Sishi is one of the new young stars on Mzansi Magic’s hit telenovela, Gomora – a story about inequality; the rich and the poor; and how fine the line between the two can be. It follows the lives of two families and how their worlds collide.
Sishi plays the conflicted high school student, Ntokozo; son to principal of Gomora High School and passionate social worker, Gladys. Ntokozo is an A-student but trouble knows him well. In the first episode of the pilot season, he shot and killed a man in a hijacking that swept up the people of Gomora and his own family into a whirlwind of drama.
Also a new talent on Gomora starring alongside Ntobeko is Sicelo Buthelezi, who plays Ntokozo’s sweet ad troubled best friend, Teddy. Teddy was temporarily adopted by Ntokozo’s parents while his mother struggled with alcoholism and the two boys struck a friendship that Mzansi Magic viewers love to see.
Bhuthelezi on the other hand, says he always knew he would one day get his chance on the Mzansi Magic stage.
“It was really inspirational [watching the channel], it made me want to work towards achieving the goal of being part of Mzansi Magic one day and thank God that came through,” he says. “I’ve dreamed of being part of Mzansi Magic family, so to see that dream come true really makes me happy.”
Gomora is just one of the many Mzansi Magic productions that have produced fresh new faces viewers love. In 2017, Isithembiso, a telenovela following the lives of young students, as their lives intertwined with some very dangerous people, launched with a cast composed almost entirely of new faces and fresh talent. The show introduced a number of new faces including lead stars Zamani Mbatha and Nandi Mbatha.
Mzansi Magic original movies, which air every Saturday night at 20:30, are also a platform for new faces to showcase their talent. Some of the movies have been developed as part of MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF), a shared-value initiative that provides a platform for the creative industries to develop their talent and engage with one another through their shared passions. This initiative has a multi-tiered approach, namely; the MTF Portal, the MTF Academies and MTF Industry Masterclasses.
“I love the fact that Mzansi Magic showcases real stories that are born and bred in the hands of South Africans,” says Sishi. “It's imperative to foster a sense of pride in our own stories, because they are ours and no one can tell them better. Mzansi Magic has created an avenue for this, and this is important because it can inspire more storytellers to express themselves authentically.”
Buthelezi says new shows like Gomora and hit dramas like Lockdown show the authenticity and intensity of storytelling in the country.
“Mzansi Magic tells real South African Stories and that inspires a lot of South African storytellers to continue telling original South African Stories,” says Buthelezi.
The first day on set was filled with nerves Sishi but he says the experienced cast and crew on set helped him along.
“I was very nervous so I compensated by thoroughly knowing my script, he says. “Although I hadn't connected with the character as well as I would've liked to, my cast and crew made it a whole lot easier. I've also learnt how to better equip myself in the future.”
The two young stars are also grateful to their fans who have received their talent with “warm hands”.
“The fact that they has received me with warm hands and they have shown me that are [appreciating] my acting abilities, that for me stands out, that’s what I love about them,” says Buthelezi.
Sishi says the love from his fans is humbling. “The ability to experience the warmth of people's households through their TV screens has allowed me to connect with an audience through my character, and this all thanks to Mzansi Magic.”
For the future, Sishi and Buthelezi hope to take on international stages.
Thuso Mbedu, lead star in Mzansi Magic’s hit drama series Is’thunzi, about four young high school girls and their challenges, is a two-time International Emmy Award nominee for her role on the show. Anything is possible from the Mzansi Magic stage!
For the best in fresh local entertainment, stay tuned to Gomora every Monday to Friday at 19:30, if you miss a moment or want to see it all again, watch it on DStv Catch Up.