What started as a social media challenge has led to actress, singer and author Rami Chuene playing a character that you either love or hate on one of the country’s biggest telenovela’s, ‘The Queen’.
Chuene plays Gracious Mabuza, a street savvy business women whose over the top lifestyle, gun wielding chases, quick one liners and love for all things fabulous has captured audiences.
Known for her work on ‘Scandal’ and ‘Muvhango’, she got the job after she received 10 000 retweets for a tweet in which she asked to be cast.
Let’s talk about The Queen, it all started with a social media challenge, was it at all a joke at first?
I really enjoyed watching the show, from the very first episode and I honestly never missed an episode of it. When they started speaking about a second season that’s when I told myself that I wanted to be apart of this production, but as what was a different story.
So one day while watching it I noticed that the character Brutus was out of order, he needed a wife. So that’s when I just decided to see what would happen if I put it out on Twitter that I actually want to play Brutus’ wife on the show. There was very much a real intention to be on the show.
Did you actually expect to be on the show after fans rallied and supported you?
I honestly did not expect it at all. People on social media already knew I was a fan of the show because I always tweeted about it so having their support was really amazing and getting a job via Twitter was actually an enjoyable experience.
Okay so you get cast, what made you say yes to the actual character?
It wasn’t even about the character, I would have said yes to anything just to be on the show. I said yes because I had gelled with the team before I even started working with them. As a viewer, you can tell when the environment offscreen is just as good as it is on screen, I realised that the people on this show were my type of crowd and that’s why I said yes.
Viewers love Gracious, what do you not like about her?
She has a huge personality, she is actually very exhausting, I would not want to be her friend to be honest.
There is absolutely nothing gracious about her, as far as she is concerned she is the boss and everyone else needs to rally around her and she is always answering a question with a question, it’s so bizarre how she likes complicating things. However I love how hardworking she is, she is a hustler.
How much of her one liners are from the script and how much are from Rami?
Hahaha….we have amazing writers on the show and I do read my script, people think what Gracious says is all me but it isn’t. The writers already know what the characters are going to say that all I have to do is add my own spice to the script.
You also play Lindiwe on ‘Harvest’ – the season is almost up, will it be back at all?
I would love for it to come back for a second season, I love playing Lindiwe and the entire premise of the show is something I have enjoyed. There isn’t any word yet but I do hope we get another season.
Of all the characters you have played, which have you enjoyed the most?
That’s a very difficult question to answer, all of the characters have been so diverse and I have enjoyed playing all of them. Thato from Scandal and Khomotjo from Muvhango were really great characters but i have to say that playing Gracious is putting me in my element.
With a career that spans over a decade, what has been a highlight?
When you are consistent in your career I think that everything becomes a highlight. For me though my self published book is a highlight, a serious accomplishment in fact and so was my debut album because I am an independent artist.
What lessons have you learnt about yourself with your work in the entertainment industry?
Definitely the art of patience and keeping my cool. Also, I have learnt that we can all win in this industry, it isn’t a competition, if it was a competition we would all look, sound and speak the same.
You are a huge advocate for local productions, it might sound strange, but why?
I just think that the local scene has grown and it doing fantastic work. We are telling authentic South African stories, we are owning them and that’s a beautiful thing. I want our shows to air in Germany the way American shows air here.
You have spoken out on a number of issue in SA, one being homosexuality, as a person of influence, is speaking out important to you and when is the right time?
Any time is the right time to speak up, I am not someone who needs any sort of validation from people so I will always speak about issues I am passionate about. I think I have said things in the past that probably didn’t get me a certain job or endorsement and that’s fine, I didn’t start in this industry on the back of endorsements, I did with my talent. I think people who are influence need to realise and understand their power and use it to help others.