Arts and Culture

Small-town girl hits the big time

Andile Nayika

Growing up in the small town of Mthatha did not deter actress and television personality Zikhona Sodlaka from seeking a place in the big wide world.

Zikhona Sodlaka.

Her talent has taken her places, and today she is a well-known presence on the small screen.

Sodlaka was introduced to the South African public in the streetwise TV drama series Tsha Tsha. Before that she played a part in Soul City and appeared briefly in the soapie Generations. Sodlaka has also played roles in Shooting Stars, Rhythm City, Montana, Intsika, A Place Called Home and Entabeni. She will soon star in The Long Walk to Freedom, but is not giving away many details just yet.

Your fans know you from local dramas and relate to you as Palesa in A Place Called Home, Ava in Entabeni, Nolitha in Montana and Noluthando in Soul City, but who is the real Zikhona?

Well, I am not half as exciting as the characters you mention, though I play them and they look a bit like me. I am a 27-year-old lover of good music, not a great cook and a generally passionate individual, much softer than most of the characters I play.

How do you feel you relate to the characters that you have played?

If I am not like the character I play then I know someone who is, or the viewers at home will see themselves in her. The point of my job is to have people relating more to my characters than to me.

What do you think about the role of women in the TV and film industry?

Men and woman are of equal influence in this age. Women have become pioneers and the film industry is no exception. Creativity and talent know  no gender and creative women thrive on this truth.

If you had a chance to hang out with any actor for a day, who would it be and why?

Well, I hang out with a lot of our actors anyway. But if I had to choose just one it would have to be my best friend, Meryl Streep. She is for me one of the world’s most talented people and carries her femininity with such grace. I’d want to work with such a woman.  

Tell me about your future international appearance?

I am doing an international film, The Long Walk to Freedom. I can’t say more than this for now though. [The movie is based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. It is backed by South African Anant Singh and will star Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela.]

What are you currently wearing?

I’m in PJs now — Cape Town is freezing! Although I can say I am a classic clean lines kind of girl. Less is more for me — African class meets a bit of vintage class, and I’m happy.

High heels or flat shoes?

High heels, and flats when tired.

Do you consider yourself a model?

Thank you for the compliment but I do not model. When I was younger I did it just to generate cash and am not so much a model any more.

Lastly, what made you decide to shave your hair?

I can’t really remember what drove me to shave it but I have never been a fan of straightening my natural hair. Plus, it doesn’t grow very long. It’s extremely cheap, this cut.

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