Top Billing catches up with Uzalo star Gugu Gumede
She’s the actress involved in one of South Africa’s most iconic soap opera storylines, and her character MaMlambo has captured South African hearts all over the country. We caught up with the actress on the heels of our exclusive behind the scenes look at Uzalo’s dramatic wedding episodes.
1. How young were you when the acting bug first bit?
I realised that I wanted to act when I was 9 years old. I was so infatuated with creating scenarios and acting them out for my family; and I would get such a kick out of it when they believed me. That’s when I knew that this is what I wanted to do.
2. What were the early years of your career like?
I’m still a spring chicken in the industry, so I’m still experiencing the early years. Although when I was fresh out of university, I was quite irritable because I thought I would get a job immediately. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. That was the most frustrating thing about being new in the industry.
3. This wedding was a huge event for the show and for fans, did you feel pressure building up to the filming?
I felt a little bit of pressure just to be as truthful to the character as I could be. Also, I wanted to make sure that I bring to life what the writers had in mind; they have a vision of how the story should be, and it’s always a bit nerve wrecking to bring a huge storyline to life because of that. It’s a collaborative effort between us and the writers.
4. What has the general reaction been like from your fans after the wedding?
People have been absolutely amazing. The reception has been incredible. It feels like the whole country was tuned in, and one can only be appreciative of such. All of us put so much work into this; from the producers, writers, crew, cast, editors - we all gave our all and the final product proves that. It’s incredible to have the country be so happy with our work. It’s been humbling.
5. What was your favourite part of filming the wedding scenes?
I absolutely loved the vows. Masoja Msiza has been an incredible scene partner, and it felt as if we were paying homage to our characters’ love story. It was a great feeling as an actor.
6. How do you feel MaMlambo has grown over the course of the show, and how has it compared to your personal growth?
MaMlambo had grown immensely. I’ve been on the show from the beginning, but now we’ve shown different parts of who she is. Also, there is nothing that will teach you about life [more] than love. One of my favorite acting coaches used to say “life problems are acting problems”; there is nothing that we go through in life that will not be a lesson for us as actors. I’ve seen so much in life and met so many people, and I’ve been able to now take from my different experiences and mold my character and her experiences.
7. What do you think MaMlambo’s future is going to look like after her wedding?
I think she thought too much about the wedding and not enough about the actual marriage. I think she’ll be shocked after the honeymoon stage is over; because she’ll see that this man really is no saint - but I believe that just like before the wedding, love will continue to conquer all.
Above: Nhlonipho Zondi
Below: Wiseman Mkhize - Twiseygraph Photography