Johannesburg - Few people remember Sindi Dlathu’s real name.
The 43-year-old's TV character, Thandaza, has taken over her life and identity for two decades because of the popular SABC2 TshiVenda drama, Muvhango.
Many people also don’t know that Dlathu will have been in the acting industry for a whopping 30 years next year.
“In 1997, when I started acting in Muvhango, I never thought I’d be in the show for this long. But my acting career has gradually grown in the show,” she says.
The show has grown from one episode per week to a daily soapie.
“Thandaza and I grew with the show. It’s been a dream come true to be in the same soapie for two decades,” she says.
The first Muvhango series had 13 episodes and premiered on April 7 1997.
Twenty years later, with at least 6 million viewers, it still claims the number one spot on SABC2.
A quest to bridge the divide
“It all started as a concept in a quest to bridge the cultural divide between black communities and also [to eliminate] language superiority,” says Muvhango’s creator and executive producer, Duma Ndlovu.
But it has not always been smooth sailing for the show. It has gone through difficult challenges, but managed to pull through, Ndlovu says.
“We will continue to come up with authentic stories that talk to communities and create interaction among our viewers. They are the lifeline of the soapie’s success,” Ndlovu says.
Dressed in a green blouse with a black blazer paired with black jeans, Dlathu looks drained. “Work has been hectic — I haven’t rested since the beginning of the year,” she says.
'God planned my path'
Nevertheless, she is looking dashing and is ageing gracefully. She ascribes this to her “good genes”.
“I never planned to be where I am today. God planned my path. The reason I’m still with the show is because I relate with the story line.
"It’s the first show that accommodates all the African languages. It speaks to us black people,” she says.
She describes Thandaza as a woman who has been through it all. She lost her first love, a multimillionaire husband, forcing her to pull herself up by her bootstraps and start her own business.
“She loses her loved ones all the time. Her [new] husband betrays her by impregnated her niece.”
She says although people close to Thandaza say she’s a strong woman, she doesn’t look at herself as a strong person and feels vulnerable.
“The strong personality is what Sindi and Thandaza have in common.”
Two years ago, Dlathu had health scare while on set. She suffered from severe fatigue and was admitted in hospital.
“When you have three months of an emotional storyline, your employers need to give you a break to recovery emotionally. It really takes a toll on you,” she says.
Asked if she ever felt she needed to leave Muvhango, Dlathu gives an emphatic no. She has rejected many offers before.
“I wouldn’t trade acting for anything. It is my first love and that’s why I’ve been doing it for this long.”
More than one talent
Although she has been acting all her life, she believes people can have more than one talent.
She enrolled for an IT course after matric, but gave it up in her first year to pursue her acting career.
She has acted in Sarafina, Khululeka, Justice for All and the SABC1 drama series Soul City.
She has also acted in theatre productions such as The Game and The Suit, which earned her an FNB Vita Award for best actress in 2003.
Will she ever venture into working behind the scenes, perhaps as a producer?
Not interested, she says. “Acting is my calling.”
And how has she managed to live a life without drug abuse like most stars?
“It’s the glory of God. I remember my granny used to say a person needs to have a conscience. It just resonated.”
Temptations have always been there, but her conscience has guided her and she counts her blessings.
She is also grateful to the supportive people who are always around her.
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