Gugu Gumede not just Magwaza-Msibi's daughter

"People will always recognise me as Zanele Magwaza-Msibi's daughter before the actress," Gugu Gumede says with a tone of disappointment.

"I wish it was different, but that's just something I have to face," she says.

The actress, who is the daughter of the National Freedom Party leader, is one of the stars heating up TV screens in Uzalo - currently the most watched show in the country.

With her impressive physical transformation, paired with her nuanced performance, the 25-year-old actress has managed to fool fans of the SABC1 soapie into believing she's a middle-aged woman.

Thanks to her unrelenting portrayal of gossip-monger and prophetess Ma'Mlambo, she has proven that she is much more than Magwaza-Msibi's daughter.

"Look at my boss Gugu [Zuma-Ncube - Uzalo producer]. She is an amazing actress and she created her own show - the number one show in the country. Yet she will always be the president's [Jacob Zuma] daughter first. It's just something that comes with the territory.

"People will always talk and say she got the role because she is so-and-so's daughter. My talent speaks for itself. The one thing I feel like I never have to justify is my talent. I know that I'm good at what I do. I think I have paid my dues," she says.

On a scorching day, Gumede arrives for our tête-à-tête sizzling in a cleavage-hugging floral maxi-dress that is sweeping the floor like she just waltzed off a resort.

For her off-duty style, she has ditched Ma'mlambo's no-make-up natural look and signature towering doek in favour of full-bodied curls and glamoured-up make-up.

"I think a good actor will always pray for that role that is completely different from them. For me it's not much if you are showing up on set and playing yourself.

"People always think I'm old and I always say, 'but we are acting'. Someone recently pointed out to me that I'm the youngest in my cast.

"It's sort of great to walk down the street and not have people recognise me because I'm so different from my character. Uzalo blessed me with that."

The KwaZulu-Natal starlet studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. She resided in LA for three years before deciding to return home after completing her studies.

Upon her return home in 2013, she landed the role of Mandisa on Generations.

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"Being away from family is hard, but LA became a home for me because I set it up as a home and I wasn't planning on coming back," she recalls.

"I was very young. I set up an apartment, got a car ... a lot of firsts happened for me in LA. It became the 'new normal' for me; it was nothing out of the ordinary. But SA is home. I love this country."

Her late father, Inkosi SH Gumede, was also a well known political figure.

He was a member of the IFP and served as a member of the KZN legislature. He died in 2007 in a car accident.

"It was hard when my dad died, but I didn't really know him. He and my mom had a decent relationship.

"I grew up in a single parent household. We are a loving and overly sensitive type.

"I'm my mother's daughter. I don't accept a lot of nonsense and I'm very stubborn," says Gumede.

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