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Zolisa Xaluva says Smoke & Mirrors negotiations ongoing but producers say he’s out

Free-to-air broadcaster confirms it will be recasting the role

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Veteran actor Zolisa Xaluva.
Veteran actor Zolisa Xaluva.
Image: Supplied.

A tug-of-war has broken out between the producers of Smoke & Mirrors and their lead star Zolisa Xaluva over his appearance in the second season of the hit daily drama. 

Production house The Final Chapter confirmed in a statement issued via TV channel e.tv that Xaluva would not be reprising the role of the much-loved ruthless businessman Caesar Ngonyama in the upcoming second season.

However, Xaluva told Sowetan he believed they were still in negotiation over him returning for the second season.

“At the onset of the new season of Smoke & Mirrors, the producers of the Final Chapter Productions have come to a resolution to amicably part ways with Zolisa Xaluva. Zolisa has been an asset to the show in his role as Caesar Ngonyama, and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavours,” said Thapelo Ramatsui, marketing and communications specialist at e.tv.

When he was first contacted, Xaluva denied he was fired.

“Negotiations are still ongoing for season two between the parties involved. The contract for season one has ended, so the word fired is incorrect,” said the 42-year-old actor. 

“I’m also unaware of the news that my character is going to be recast. I enjoy playing the role of Caesar. I love his bravery and fearlessness, and as much as he's a ruthless villain, he also has a soft and kind approach when it comes to women and, therefore, has some redeemable human qualities.

“This is show business; one has to have a thick skin and deal calmly with matters as they arise.”

When Sowetan informed e.tv that Xaluva was unaware of his departure from the show; the channel and production house said they stood by their first statement. The free-to-air broadcaster further confirmed that they would be recasting the role.

“We stand with the reason for Zolisa’s departure to be on an amicable basis between the actor and production. The character of Caesar will be recast going into the second season of the show. Our other actors remain integral part of the show. No further negotiations are planned,” Ramatsui said.

This is not the first time the award-winning actor found himself at the bitter end with producers. In 2014, Xaluva was part of the fired  “Generations 16” actors after failure to reach agreement with producers over payment and royalties. Last year, viewers were left devastated when he amicably exited popular telenovela Gomora at the end of season two over the creative direction his character Melusi Dlamini was taking.

“There is still a tendency to overwork actors and expect them to accept being underpaid, and when they stand up for themselves, they are viewed as problematic.. especially since most actors are willing to accept the unfairness of this treatment,” Xaluva said.

Xaluva is also known for his prolific role as Diamond on The Queen and Mogomotsi Masire in Kings of Joburg. He recently features in Netflix’s new action movie The Queenstown Kings

“Shooting The Queenstown Kings has been one of the best experiences of my career. I loved playing such a vulnerable, multicoloured character. It was challenging as well as very fulfilling,” he said.

“The film continues to be a resounding success. Last night we broke into the global top 10 on Netflix and we're the first African film to do so.” 

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