Lady Noxee doing it for the sisters
Leading lady Noxee Maqashalala strongly believes that in order to have impactful female roles on TV and film, women need to develop materials for themselves.
Maqashalala is doing exactly that with her new 13-part legal and prison drama Diamond City that debuts on Sunday night on SABC1. Not only does she have a lead role in the show, but she slips into her new gig as a first-time executive producer.
The series features a supporting cast of Angela Sithole, Nambitha Ben-Mazwi, Lehlohonolo Makoko, Tshepo Maseko and Thabang Molaba.
"Being behind-the-scene gives you more respect and appreciation for the finer project," says Maqashalala. "People don't get to see the hard work that goes into the making in order to see the project lifted off the ground.
"So, I got to experience and enjoy being part of the full picture. I loved coming up with this cast, it's so much fun. It's a highlight in my career, it's like giving birth."
Maqashalala is taking a leaf out of Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon's book, who through her production company Hello Sunshine has been focusing on female-driven roles for herself and fellow sisters in Hollywood. The end result has yielded big productions both on the small and big screen such as Wild, Gone Girl and Big Little Lies.
"I like the fact that it came at this point in my life; I'm not getting any younger and I might not be in front of the camera for long.
"Our industry is up and down. There is no consistency, there are times when you are very high and everyone wants you. Then it dips. So you need to create your own work."
This has been Maqashalala's labour of love project that has been in the works for four years, with the assistance of production company Quizzical Pictures.
"We decided to pitch it to the SABC. We didn't hear from them for three-and-a-half years. They called us in May last year to say they had commissioned the show.
"I'm not going to lie, I gave up. I moved on. I even forgot about it. You get so many ideas; you try out this one and if it doesn't work you move on to the next."
Even though she's enjoying her new role as an executive producer, acting still comes first for Maqashalala.
She explains: "The acting got hectic because I was on set almost every day. It was hard, but it's one of the things I enjoy the most. I'd rather be tired acting.
"Quizzical Pictures was so gracious, so I could do what I do best. Acting became first priority; when I got a gap I would move to other things."
Maqashalala is renowned for her breakout role in 2003's youth drama series Tsha Tsha. Her other notable acting jobs have been in Easy Money, Intersexions, Generations and Rhythm City.
What lesson would she offer her younger self?
"I would advise myself to believe in myself more and go after my dreams. If you don't believe in yourself, who is going to believe in you?"
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