Vatiswa Ndara has made a career out of embodying iconic roles. From Generations to Home Affairs and Igazi, the gravitas her name carries has made her one of the most respected and in-demand screen talents the country has produced.
Reaching such heights is a story of hard work, grit and of course, a fascinating demonstration of a woman at the top of her game. We caught up with Vatiswa to get an insight into some of her best moments, current motivations and hopes for the future.
Words: Tshiamo Seape
Hi Vatiswa, please give us a little introduction into who you are and how you first broke into the world of acting?
I had to what everybody else has to do to get into the industry, audition, audition, audition, getting a thousand auditions before getting my break.
You’ve played many iconic roles on television throughout your career so I’m wondering which was your favourite or most challenging one to bring to life?
It’s always challenging to be someone you are not. For example, I’ve never been an alcoholic (Home Affairs), or a witch (iGazi) etc. So everything is a challenge because you have to act, but make it look normal/natural.
When you first decided to become an actor, who were the people that you looked up to for inspiration and what about their careers made you want to emulate them?
At the point I started acting, I didn’t really want to look up to anybody. From where I was, they were a picture of success, while I was right at the bottom. So for me, it was a case of pushing myself to the best level I could be at. At the time I looked up to Whoopi Goldberg. But the distance between me and her was quite significant. So I decided it would be better for my career to switch off and rather focus on developing myself as an actor. It was only once I was really in the space that I started to admire and respect the skills of your Meryl Streep and Viola Davis. But it took me being deeply involved to start appreciating that.
Who are some of the actors you admire today?
Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Bettany, Zikhona Sodlaka, Zizi Peteni, Warren Masemola
Who, among the newcomers in the industry, do you think has what it takes to be the countries next big star?
Kertrice Maitisa, I might be biased because she plays my daughter in Muvhango, but she is really good.
If there was someone – alive or not- you could invite to your table for a dinner party – who might that be?
My dad Paige Ndara for wisdom, Michael Jackson for entertainment, Brenda Fassie for a little bit of crazy
What are the best and worst parts about a life in the spotlight?
The only good thing about being in the spotlight is when you get job offers. Otherwise, I can’t think much of the good. Please ask me next year.
How do you like to unwind and take time for yourself?
When I have money I go for facials and a message. I love movies, a great form of escapism. I love to do a lot of travelling, probably one of the best ways of unwinding.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Thus far, I will never forget getting the DStv Viewers’ Choice Award in 2017, where the viewers’ voices made their voices heard. That’s really important. That’s not something to take for granted.
Your book, I am Because of You is a collection of positive affirmations from friends and family. Why did you feel it was necessary to give this much recognition to your fans?
Because we tend to forget our fans, yet they are the ones who keep us ‘relevant’ by appreciating the work that we do and voicing it.
Talking about books, What are you reading right now?
My Muvhango scripts.
What are you listening to?
What’s your favourite place in Joburg to do brunch on a Sunday?
Never thought of that as a favourite place, but I once had a great experience at the Design Quarter’s Kitchen Bar.
What are your goals and upcoming projects for the rest of 2018 and beyond?
To make sure I have enough money for a pension. I want to have the greatest pension.