Tyson, Mazet duel goes on in Lockdown

Dawn Thandeka King and Lorcia Cooper in the new season of Lockdown.
Dawn Thandeka King and Lorcia Cooper in the new season of Lockdown.
Image: Supplied

On-screen arch-nemesis Dawn Thandeka King and Lorcia Cooper are ready to keep viewers on the edge of their seats in the new season of Lockdown.

Sowetan visited the leading ladies on the final day of shooting the prison drama at the historic Women's Jail at the Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. Lockdown has won the SA Film and TV Awards (Safta).

King is deep in character as no-nonsense inmate Mazet, donning her pantsula-style bucket hat. Her transformation is completed by a cigarette behind her ear - a habit the Urban Dictionary has coined "phantom cigarette syndrome".

As soon as she sits for a chat with me, both the cigarette and bucket hat come off. Her posture is relaxed and I'm less intimidated.

King explains that season five that will move from Mzansi Magic to streaming service Showmax on January 31 was far more physical than any of the previous seasons. She also teases that the love-hate relationship with the character Tyson (Cooper) will take centre stage. "It's more physical but very exciting. They are more dynamics to the show that makes Mazet interact with different characters. Expect more collaborations and betrayals with Tyson," she teases.

"I'm excited about the audience seeing the stunts that we are going to be doing this season. There is a heist that we do and blowing up stuff. There is a lot of shooting and I used a real gun this season - I shoot it. It had blanks, but it was all exciting. I have never done this kind of stunts; I was in a van that was burning. It was controlled and I felt safe. So we are not just in jail only, we will be getting out more.

The riveting chemistry between Cooper and King's characters is one of the elements that the show has become such a hit. I first spy Cooper on set intensely going through her lines with director Mandla N. I'm greeted by Tyson's signature cornrows, tattoos and inmate uniform.

"Before getting Tyson, I was always typecast. I think people always saw the pretty coloured girl with the good body and straight hair... to a point where I used to go to auditions and people will say, 'you don't look coloured enough'," she said.

Lorcia Cooper as Tyson bulldozes a fellow inmate in season five of prison drama Lockdown.
Lorcia Cooper as Tyson bulldozes a fellow inmate in season five of prison drama Lockdown.
Image: Supplied

"To anyone that thought I didn't have the ability to do this role, well here I am. This role just came at a perfect time and suddenly everyone is like, 'wow, she can act'. Since Lockdown I'm grateful that I've been offered roles that show my range," she said.

Last season, the character that has terrorised every inmate on the show, except for Mazet, won Cooper a Safta.

It was not only her first win but the first acting nomination of her 18-year career that started on Backstage. "What was most rewarding about that moment was to see my peers stand and applaud," Cooper said. "It was a great moment to be able to represent my people - to be a coloured performer standing on the stage holding an award that represents my people."

This new season is particularly special for King as she got to work with first-born Jaydeen Msomi. The 19-year-old has been interning as a crew member. She dropped out of Afda where she was studying film. "She is interested in this world. She's running around doing everything. It's exciting for me to have someone from my family to see what I do for a living," King said as Jaydeen hands her a script.

"She bullies me and gives me scripts. She does continuity and she's very strict on me. I'm really proud of her. I try not to be her mom on set."

Famous for her other role as MaNgcobo in popular soapie Uzalo, King is a recent divorcee. The mother of five loves each and every moment of her new chapter.

"I just recently realised that I can do things on my own. I've come out of my skin and I've grown. I've learned that when you have fallen, you get up and dust yourself off," she said. "I've cut down on alcohol. There was a time I was depending on it to numb the pain. This year has seen me almost not drink ... I enjoy a glass of wine every now and then."

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