Her arrival in the television and film industry has been excellent from day one and she is showing no sign of stopping. The Durban-born actress has made a name for herself working alongside some of the biggest names in Mzansi.
We first took notice of Kwanele’s talent when she portrayed the role of Ayanda in the award-winning telenovela Isithembiso. Shortly after, she landed her first lead role in the Mzansi Magic movie Intandatho Yokukhanya, starring with veteran actors Muzi Mthabela (Isibaya) and Mpho J Molepo, to name just a couple.
Kwanele is currently starring in Abomama S2 but it is also her recent role on the movie Umakoti Wethu, coming first to Showmax on 23 September 2021, that has caught our attention.
Kwanele plays the role of Nobuhle, a respectful small-town girl who works at her father’s tuck shop. There is a rumour in the community about her being lesbian. Her parent’s organise an arranged marriage with a polygamist to deaden the rumours, but little do they know that their daughter is about to experience a rather interesting marriage.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Kwanele about her acting career and playing this role.
How did your acting career begin and was it something that you’ve always wanted to pursue?
I’ve always wanted to be in the entertainment industry, whether it be singing, presenting or acting, but my strength lies in acting and singing. I am a singer, even though I haven’t put out any music yet. I started out just doing Tik Tok videos- I liked imitating people and acting out some of the scenes I’ve seen in movies.
I found myself getting good at it and I started getting a huge following on TikTok. That’s how it all started and I then developed an interest in storytelling.
How did your role on Umakoti Wethu come about?
Initially this role was for someone else and that person was in between productions and couldn’t do this role. I had auditioned for a different role before, which I didn’t get. and then a few months later I got called to play the role of Nobuhle.
I remember at the time I was on the set of Abomama S2, and I got a call from production, that’s when they told me that they had a role for me and since then it has been the best thing ever.
Can you tell us a bit about your role in Umakoti Wethu?
I play the role of Nobuhle Ndaba – a young lady who comes from a well-respected family. She grew up under this immense pressure to do good and be perfect.
Nobuhle discovers that she is lesbian but she doesn’t have the courage to act on it. She finds it difficult to come out because of how taboo homosexuality is in her community.
She eventually enters into a polygamist marriage, but little does she know that she is about to get stuck in the middle of a very interesting love triangle.
What is the best lesson you have taken from this character?
In as much as I had little to no time preparing for this role, but, during the short period of time that I was privileged to play Nobuhle, I realised the many challenges that queer people encounter.
It made me realise how deep this is and that it comes with many mental health issues while trying to navigate love and dating. Queer people go through a lot, but it is up to us as a society, especially our generation, to ensure we change those stereotypes and make them more acceptable.
Did you have to do any research to help you understand how to play this role?
I did a bit of research on the topic as I do have friends who are lesbian and so even during filming I was able to learn so much from the people I worked with.
Nozipho Nkelemba is the director of the movie. What was it like working with a woman who is so talented?
It was amazing! I’ve always wanted to work with Nozipho and on the first day on set I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t want to let myself down but I quickly warmed up to it and things went smoothly. Nozipho is a dream to work with!
Also, because she was an actor before, she knows and pushes you hard if you’re not giving your all. She will give you compliments as much as she gives constructive criticism.
Were there any memorable moments while filming this movie?
I think throughout the whole process of making the film, everything was awesome. From the very first moment I stepped on set till the last day: I can’t exactly pick a moment and I also appreciate that I worked with friendly, funny, and happy people.
What do you hope viewers will take away from this movie?
I just want people to understand what queer people go through almost every single day of their lives. I also hope that people will learn that sometimes you should do what you want because life is too short.
You don’t want to regret not doing what you’ve always wanted to do just because you’re worried about other people’s opinions.
Umakoti Wethu will start streaming on Showmax from 23 September 2021.