Actress and producer Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube has managed to build an impressive behind-the-screens career, just as she did with her on-screen profession.
Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube is a daughter of former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma and African National Congress politician Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and daughter-in-law to Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change Vice President Welshman Ncube.
She shot to stardom in 2007 on SABC 1’s Interrogation Room and her name is attached to some of the nation’s leading productions, including Isidingo and Rhythm City.
Zuma-Ncube brought the local audience one of Mzansi Magic’s acclaimed blockbuster series, Ifalakhe – a pre-colonial Zulu kingdom drama likened to the epic Game of Thrones.
As a producer, the 34-year-old creative proved her mettle.
She is behind the success of Uzalo – which celebrates its fifth year on SABC 1 and is currently the most watched TV drama series with a viewership of 10 million.
Zuma-Ncube has produced Mzansi Magic hit, eHostela, which told a story of corruption and violence waged in the notorious hostels.
Apart from the dramatic scenes that trend on social media on Sunday nights, Ifalakhe also marks Zuma-Ncube’s return to acting after a seven- year hiatus, which she said was spent perfecting her skills behind the scenes.
“At the core of who I am, I am an actor because that is where I started. Leaving acting was not because I didn’t love or want it anymore but I was purely motivated by the need to explore my other talents. The plan has always been to work my way back into acting somehow,” said Zuma-Ncube.
“I feel very excited, honestly, to be back. I play a small role that doesn’t last the entire season but I feel like I can breathe again now that I am back to doing the very thing that I love the most in the world.”
Working alongside her in the creation of this ambitious series that took almost three years of research were Mmamitse Thibedi and Zuma-Ncube’s younger sister, Thuli Zuma.
“Ifalakhe is important because first, we don’t really have precolonial representation in television and film. Even Shaka Zulu is a colonial story told through the eyes of the colonialists. So to have a tale of who we were before we were given an identity by other people is a very fundamental thing.
“And second, to have the most voiceless of our society to be the ones telling the tale – women and black people – is so significant and empowering in that we get to relay who we believe ourselves to be and what resonates with what we’ve heard from our great grandparents.”
Her interest in storytelling was always rooted in her belief that society was as healthy as the stories it told, and telling them was her purpose.
Speaking of the representation of women in the male-dominated industry, Zuma-Ncube said she believed that as soon as you have full representation the industry can be sustainable.
“Having more women take their place is natural because of the demographics of the country. I think there shouldn’t be an industry, whether film or TV, that doesn’t reflect the demographics of this country. There are more women in South Africa than men and there should be more women in the film industry,” she said.
With more projects under her sleeves, she is excited about what the future holds for not only for their young company but for women at the forefront of African narratives.
The Sunday Independent