Masasa Mbangeni heats up the screen with 'game changer' role
A year after her departure from popular soapie Scandal!, actress Masasa Mbangeni has found a role she describes as a "labour of love" and "game changer" in her career.
Mbangeni is referring to her character as anti-heroine Celia in e.tv's new riveting drama Harvest that is heating up the small screen on Monday nights.
"This is the first character in my career that has gotten under my skin. It's so rare in your career when you meet characters like that," Mbangeni says.| "This has been the most exciting, exhausting and rewarding character of my life. It has been a game changer for me. It has truly been a labour of love for me."
On an icy winter night, we find a tan couch in a secluded corner to chat at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton. Her gold-sequined wrap dress beautifully complements the sofa's earthy tone. She is serving body goals in the little number with her toned legs.
"I work with a really amazing trainer. He gets that I don't want to be skinny, but I want to be strong. I have also been following a vegetarian lifestyle for the last 14 years," she reveals.
In the past year, after leaving Scandal!, Mbangeni has starred in Hard Copy, Thola and It's Complicated.
She also worked with writer Zakes Mda and director John Kani in the play The Dying Screams of the Moon.
But it is her unflinching portrayal in Harvest that has once again caught the undivided attention of the nation.
"2017 has been the best year for Masasa. After I left Scandal! I was petrified because I felt like I was leaving a big show and character," she says.
"I thought 'how are people going to be interested in me outside of this work?' This year has taught me that on the other side of your fear there is life. I did have moments of self-doubt but those are the sacrifices we make."
Her career has been synonymous with playing blood-pumping strong female roles. As a result, she says, people often mistake her to be an overbearing and unpleasant woman.
"There is this thing that I'm unapproachable and rude. It has taken me a while to realise that just because people feel that way it's not my job to prove them wrong."
She credits veteran actor James Ngcobo for her illustrious career.
"When I was doing my second year at Wits, I was 19, he cast me for my first professional play at The Market Theatre.
"Had I not met him and done that play, I don't think I would be here. He not only understands me as a human being, or nurtured me as a daughter, but he has helped me find my voice as an actor."
Having just finished shooting 26 episodes of Harvest, Mbangeni will be taking a hiatus from the small screen.
She is getting ready to embark on a two-month UK tour of a play, The Suit, opposite Siyabonga Twala later this year."After playing a character like Celia you have to take some time off to remember who you are."