Actor Seputla Sebogodi says he never in his wildest dreams imagined winning another prestigious golden horn statue after his first one was stolen and vandalised upon recovery years ago. But, as fate would have it, the veteran actor scooped his second South African Film and Television Award (Safta) last week for his portrayal of Soshanguve rebel leader Moses in The Republic. In his emotional acceptance speech recorded in his living room during the virtual awards ceremony, Sebogodi broke into tears.
Now a week later, Sebogodi explains to Sowetan what an emotional moment this was for him as he remembered his late mother Annah’s soothing words that he would win another one just before she died six years ago.
Sebogodi’s first Safta that was destroyed during a home burglary was won in 2010 for his portrayal of notorious businessman Kenneth Mashaba in Generations. It was confusing for me because sure they stole it, but it had my name on it, why break it?” Sebogodi recounts. I remember my mom saying, ‘my son, you will win another one’.
“When the old lady said that I wanted to say to her this is not like buying chips at the shop; you have to go through a process of giving your best and competing with the best in the industry.”b Sebogodi says his winning recipe for the role of Moses was channelling the charisma of EFF leader Julius Malema. Before he landed the role, Sebogodi had turned down three productions and was ready to quit acting. Sebogodi reveals that one production offered him a mere R3,000 to be part of the cast.
“I really could not be earning R2,000 in 1992 and then someone wants to give me R3,000 in 2019. Something must be wrong,” he says. The money was appalling to an extent that I felt like they should not have bothered calling me. To go through auditions and then get offered R3,000 I felt like that was disrespectful. It felt like people don’t value the talent that God gave me.” Sebogodi and fellow veteran actress Sindi Dlathu agree that their wins could not have come at a better time – and it’s all God’s timing.
Throughout her acting career that kicked off 32 years ago, Dlathu has never received the honour of winning a Safta. But playing villainous mining magnate Lindiwe Dlamini in The River was a game-changer – especially after portraying heroine Thandaza Mokoena for 20 years on Muvhango.
“I’ve always known that somehow God would always take care of me [after leaving Muvhango]. Although I didn’t know how it would happen and where I would end up, I knew I would be fine,” Dlathu confesses. I’m not sure why I won but I’m grateful that I did. I’m just thankful that this time around Lady Luck smiled on me.
“God has his own timing and I guess he saw it fit for all these things to happen now.” While Dlathu is not sure why she won, legendary leading lady Leleti Khumalo knows exactly why – South Africans love her whether as Sarafina or Mazulu in Imbewu: The Seed. The novice e.tv show won the only public-voted category, Most Popular TV Soap/Telenovela, at this year’s Saftas . The daily drama beat long-running shows with higher ratings such as Uzalo, Scandal! and Skeem Saam.
“This is huge because it comes from our fans,” says Khumalo, the show’s lead and co-executive producer. “I can’t say Imbewu has made it, but what I remember is that from the beginning we agreed on creating something new that has never been done and seen before. The show has seen a ratings success for the channel despite airing at 9.30pm – a late-night slot that has been considered a graveyard slot in TV.
“Imbewu represents growth for my career. It’s not easy in this industry to be able to reach your destination because [the] talent is amazing,” Khumalo says. So you ask yourself what makes me special and will make me succeed out of all the talent that we have here in South Africa. Then you answer yourself by saying we are not looking for the same goals in life.”
Comeback kid Brenda Ngxoli agrees with Khumalo that you have to run your own race in showbiz. After taking a seven-year acting break – while she focused on her spiritual journey – Ngxoli has bounced back, adding a third Safta win to her impressive collection. Ngxoli won Best Supporting Actress in a TV Drama for her role as Nomonde in iThemba.
“What matters most is that the gods have chosen to favour me,” Ngxoli says. I believe my life is a journey – one to be yet discovered and with every day in its own way reveals itself to me. So I patiently wait and see. This is the approach I took then in relation to taking an acting break. First-time winner Loyiso MacDonald of The Queen has dedicated his award to all the people that he has learnt from over the years.
“If anything, it’s a nod to the many people I have looked up to and learnt from in my life,” MacDonald shares. “I’ve always tried to learn from the best in life and in my work, and I am a product of that. His on-screen mom and the show’s executive producer, Connie Ferguson, says his win was long overdue. “We are super proud of Loyiso. I remember seeing him on Zabalaza and saying to [hubby] Shona, ‘I like this young man, [he] has quiet presence and intensity’.
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