In the three episodes of Showmax telenovela The Wife that dropped on Thursday (1 December), there were three deaths. At the centre of all three was feisty fan favourite Mandisa (Zikhona Sodlaka), whose husband Nqoba Zulu (Abdul Khoza) was buried the week before.
As Mandisa, Zikhona was nominated for Best Female Actor at the 2022 DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards and Best Supporting Actor at the 2022 SAFTAs – awards shows that named Abdul Favourite Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively.
Showmax’s ‘The Wife’ cast on Zikhona Sodlaka’s Mandisa role
The Wife cast shared what they’ve loved about working with Zikhona Sodlaka on the record-breaking, multi award-winning Showmax telenovela:
Abdul Khoza: ‘Mandisa will always be in our hearts’
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Zikhona Sodlaka, aka Mandisa a.k.a ‘uMaka Ndumiso’ on The Wife,” says Abdul. “I want to thank you for the amazing job you did on the show. As one of the most acclaimed actresses I know, you always give your best. Your work speaks for itself. It was an honour having worked so closely with you.
“Thank you for the chemistry we built as a family. I was always looking forward to seeing where our story was going. I’m grateful to have seen you take this role and transform it into a role that is loved by viewers. I know a lot of people will be hurt by your exit, but I am also certain that where you’re going, you’ll continue to shine like you always do.
“I will always cherish our working relationship for the rest of my life. I really appreciate your dedication to the craft and the way you treated me as a fellow cast member. I also appreciate how you managed to bring us together as the Zulu brothers on and off set. Thank you for also embodying the role of a mother (which we so greatly needed) in this rather unconventional family unit we’ve created as a cast. Mandisa will always be in our hearts. Thank you, Zikhona.”
Khanyi Mbau: ‘Every moment with her on set was crazy’
“Working with Zee was emotional,” says Khanyi Mbau, who plays Zandile. “She’s a bubbly, loving but very serious being who loves music and is a total contrast from what you see on screen. She’s a respectful being and very loyal to her craft.
“Every moment with her on set was crazy; once she becomes Mandisa, she’s hilarious. My fondest memory must be how I hated scenes when Mandisa had to physically run. I hated them because chasing her was a mission. Zee is an athlete; she RAN! Now imagine Zandile in heels, a tired soul trying to chase Mandisa and trying to physically keep her down…”
Kwenzo Ngcobo: ‘I’ve learned so much from Zikhona’
“It’s been such a great honour to work with Zikhona and I’ve learnt so much from her,” says Kwenzo Ngcobo, who plays this season’s male lead, Qhawe Zulu. “Sadly, she’s leaving, but that’s something we can’t control because it’s part of the story. She has left a great mark and taught us so much.
“I have so many memories of Zikhona, and every time she was on set was special. I hope to work with her again in the future. One of my favourite scenes of her is in the first episode of Season 1. It’s the scene where she walks into the Zulu mansion and asks Nqoba about going to watch soccer when he’s going to a braai. That was a fun scene to shoot, and she did an amazing job in bringing the Mandisa character to life.”
Mondli Makhoba: ‘She’s one of the best female actors we have in Africa’
“I like Zikhona,” says Mondli Makhoba, who plays Nkosana Zulu. “I had a good time working with her, especially when it came to the conversations we would have on set. I like her mind. She’s a very smart person, which then makes her a brilliant actor. How she handles her characters, not only on The Wife but also on other projects like Igazi and Generations, is so brilliant to see. She’s one of the best female actors we have in Africa.
“Having a chance to work with her, and just to be in the same space with her, was magical. Whenever she was on set, it was always interesting. I always looked forward to seeing how she was gonna treat a certain scene. I like that she’s an actor that prepares but she didn’t restrict herself: she was always open to what comes to mind at that particular time and ran with it. She’s that type of an actor who gets one scene but has multiple ways to do it. She’s smart and works hard, on top of the natural gift she has. I think that’s why her work connects with people and the reason why she’s always working.”
Sipho Ndlovu: ‘She made it easy for us to feel like we are kids from the same family’
“There’s so much I’m going to miss about Zikhona, but the one thing I’ll miss the most is her dedication,” says Sipho Ndlovu, who plays Sambulo Zulu. “I like the way she’s so dedicated to her work, and her respect for the craft. I will never forget the scene where Mandisa burnt R80 million. That scene was explosive! And the chemistry she had with Abdul Khoza was so beautiful.
“She’s one person who will bring out the best in you. She would come chill with us as the brothers in the greenroom and bring light amongst us. She created that environment for us because she knows that we are going to play and have fun with the work that we do. I believe that it’s difficult to play a character when you’re not in a free mode to do so. So Zikhona made us feel free around her.
“Zikhona is an actress who has been on our screens for over a decade now. She’s an icon, but she never brought that energy on set. She made it easy for us to feel like we are kids from the same family. I just want to say we will miss Zikhona. She’s special, she’s humble and she knows her work. She always brought a smile and was always willing to work. Zikhona, thanks for the role you played in uniting us. May you flourish wherever you go and continue sharing your magic with everyone you get to work with.”
Swelihle Luthuli: We’ve all met a Mandisa in our lives’
“For me, working with Zikhona Sodlaka was like living out a dream come true,” says Swelihle Luthuli, who plays Ntsika Zulu. “I grew up watching her on television. Her craft was always an inspiration to me.
While working with her on The Wife, we became very close; I think she was one person I was the closest to. Zikhona is really smart, and that’s what drew me to her the most. She gave me a lot of advice about the industry and life in general. I consider her a friend right now, and she’s always a call away. She was one of the people I would go to for advice, especially when it came to my performances, so her leaving the show has left a huge void.
“Her character, Mandisa, was so colourful. Everybody related to her. We’ve all met a Mandisa in our lives. We all loved this character and Zikhona portrayed it so beautifully and gave the character justice. Even in some of my performances, she was helpful. For instance, when Ntsika had to be emotional in a scene, I’ve had to watch some of Zikhona’s work and it helped me bring out the fragile side of Ntsika. She’s really amazing.”
Zikhona’s heartfelt goodbye
Head over to Showmax’s website to read Zikhona’s heartfelt goodbye to the smash hit telenovela, its diehard 5am Club fans, and her iconic role.