On: Themba Ndaba

Themba Ndaba chats about playing the bad guy, remaining convincing and being a platinum blonde, writes Helen Herimbi. Themba Ndaba is dressed to the nines. He walks tall in the BEE uniform: a high collared shirt with a suede jacket and pointy club shoes to match. He is wearing the clothes of Austin Ntabele, the newest addition to Zone 14’s characters and a villain with expensive taste. But he is not in character yet. His smile and intense concentration on a music video proves that. It’s American breakout artist, Wiz Khalifa’s music video. The actor bobs his head to every chant. Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow. It’s clear he doesn’t know the words to the song but he is enthralled nonetheless. After explaining to Ndaba who Wiz Khalifa is, I ask him if he likes this sort of music. He laughs and says: “you know what I like about these songs? The sound is so big, it’s almost orchestral.” Ndaba settles back into the gigantic couch and reminisces about when he was around Wi Khalifa’s age. “I started out helping school drop-outs catch up with their studies,” he begins. “I would help them with English literature and other things so that they could get back into the mainstream with other students.” That’s when – as the cliché goes – the acting bug bit. But what was it about this art that swayed Ndaba – who studied economics at Harare Polytech in Zimbabwe – from numbers to characters? Ndaba’s eyes widen: “it was the ability to use myself to tell a story. When I started, it was a feeling of ‘wow, I can be somebody else’ and I enjoyed it.” He thinks a little more. “Then the challenge was ‘how do I make this person believable?’ It is still a challenge now.” Thankfully for drama lovers, Ndaba has been convincing each time. He was believable in Soul City as Zimele, a philanderer who brought HIV-Aids into his family. We believed him as the heart-breaking Amos, a down-and-out man struggling to connect with his estranged son in the Read More …