Blood & Water’s Khosi Ngema

3rd August 2020 BY Ivis Ngwenya

Is anyone else still obsessing over blood and water or is it just me? For the first time in a long time, I fell in love with a series on Netflix again! I am so obsessed with SA soaps and telenovelas so it was nice to see a teenage drama series from the country, because if there is anyone that knows how to do drama it’s South Africans!

After reaching the top 10 in the UK, the US and a bunch of other countries within literally the first week, Blood and Water was renewed for a second season less than a month after it’s release as a result of the global response it received! If you haven’t watched it yet, this is the perfect series to binge-watch. I managed to finish it within a day, it’s THAT GOOD!

This was Netflix’s second African Original series. The show is part of the larger plan by Netflix to expand its original content from Africa. Earlier this year, the company’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos joined other high-level executives who toured the continent “touting plans to thrust the continent center-stage,” Variety reported. Since that trip, Netflix launched its first African original series, the Pearl Thusi-led by Queen Sono, also set in Cape Town, South Africa.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show just yet, I don’t want to spoil it too much for you but all I am going to say that it is so worth watching and you will not regret it! The show managed to break boundaries whilst also navigating the everyday ups and downs of being a teen; i.e growing up too fast, having access to drugs and trying to also deal with the power that is social media. One topic that stood out for me within the show was one of the history lessons that they had – know it all Wendy who is played by Nathasha Thahane asked why they’re paying so much for school fees to not be taught African history, which is also a topic I have always asked myself too, so many of my cousins know more European history than they do African. Odd right?

Khosi Ngema is one of the main characters on the show and she plays Fikile – the picture-perfect it-girl, every girl wants to be her and every boy wants to date her, she’s basically the shows very own Serena Van der Woodsen. She comes from a wealthy family, she is a good student, a star athlete, and beautiful but her world is turned upside down when she learns that her entire life may have been a lie in the shows season finale!

Luckily we got to sit down with Khosi and she gave us an insight into her personal life as well as her thoughts on the show and her hopes for the future/ next season!

How old were you when you started acting?

I guess I’d say I started in high school, I did drama from grade 8 – I was 13 at the time and that’s when I realised that this is where I come alive. Acting has always been something that I have been drawn to, I have such a love for the arts and come from such a creative family, so maybe it’s in the genes!

How did you hear about Blood and Water?

I heard about it through my agent, she sent me the audition details and blood and water was actually the first acting audition that I received funny enough, it’s crazy.

Talk us through the audition process.

So I went, initially, I had received the audition for Puleng, I really wanted to do as much preparation as possible and I was given like two days. After the audition for some reason, I felt so content, usually, I’m like oh no but after my original audition I got a call back the next day to audition for Fikile so I was pretty nervous because I didn’t have as much time to prepare and this was a completely different character. I actually related to Puleng more too, so I had already claimed her in my mind but then I was like okay I’ll do this, and when I auditioned for Fikile I thought I messed up so bad because of how nervous I was – I was fumbling the whole time but a few callbacks later I guess they liked what I did and the rest is history!

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A woman’s touch, a sacred geometry 🦋

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How did you get into character?

Blood and water was a real learning curve for me because you know, it was my first professional job and previously in high school, I had teachers guiding me but I guess I would just try and really go into Fikile’s mind beyond the script as well and try to invision her in scenarios that aren’t in the script – like the choices she makes and also just talking with the director was also helpful because they obviously wrote the script.

What would you say the similarities between Khosi and Fikile are? What do you admire most about her?

We are quite different in a lot of ways but I’d say similarities would be how we’re both really passionate about what we do. I think Fikile is quite a perfectionist in everything she does, including the way she presents herself to other people but just in terms her craft – swimming and mine being music and acting I’d say we’re similar in those ways. That’s something I really admire about her too – her dedication to her work.

You mentioned that you’re a singer/ songwriter too? What kind of music do you do?

Uhm, I never really know what genre to say or how to describe it, but I’d say it’s just mellow and I envision it to be music that you listen to when you’re alone in your room introspecting – laid back chilled music. If I had to pick I’d said alternative RnB. Once I release music I’ll ask people how they would describe it.

What was it like working with Netflix? Was it everything you expected?

I don’t even know what I expected, I sort of just walked in there. The whole experience for me was like a pinch-me moment, I felt like I was dreaming the entire time, even now, I still can’t believe it. It was incredible. They’re kind. I think that’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of Netflix SA – their kindness. During filming, they’d always come in and check on us saying “we’re here for whatever you need/want” It was so warm and a true family unit. These are people that I wish I could work with forever on every single project I do. If that was possible it’d be amazing because I made friends for life filming that series.

Describe a normal day on set for us?

AHAHAHA set life is not normal. I guess it depends. We’d wake up at super odd hours in the morning or be waking up at 3 in the afternoon and sleeping at 7 am the next day depending on the scenes that day. But generally, it was just standard, you’d get to set and have lunch, breakfast or whatever depending on the time you got there, then straight to makeup and wardrobe. Then the makeup trailer, I think everyone, even those who aren’t even in the cast – like the crew can say that the makeup team were like therapists. We’d all go there and cry, laugh, dance! Then from there, it’s just like getting into the scenes and getting it all done.

How was it filming with some of SA’s most Iconic actors?

Yo, it was so crazy and I was so nervous because obviously they’re like veterans, they’re so big! However, it didn’t feel like that on set, they’d always make themselves available to you and whatever you needed or wanted from them, like Gail would always check in on us and ask if we were okay or how we were handling things. Even sis Xolile who plays my mom, we really bonded and she’d tell me about her experiences acting and I’d tell her what I’m feeling and she’d be like “mhhmm I know and that never ends.” As I said earlier, it was just like family, everyone was really there for each other and I am so grateful for that!

Did they give you any advice that you can share with other aspiring actors/ actresses?

I guess the main message that I received from them as an actor was to learn how to switch it on and off because one of the things that I struggled with was getting on set being Fikile and then leaving Fikile on set, especially with emotional scenes like you sort of take that on, whether you like it or not. You’ll be crying on camera then it’s like done but you’re still crying and in a bad mood.

To stay grounded was also another thing they said to us. And to always respect everyone you work with – they’re is no hierarchy on set because everyone matters.

Which topics from the show do you think people should be aware of the most?

I think the topics around cyberbullying, how it impacts peoples lives, for example with Puleng. Also, I’d say just being a teenager – some things aren’t highlighted enough on how hard growing up can be with all these influences like drugs and alcohol being accessible to young people. I hope that parents who have watched the show can see/ have an idea of what teenagers go through – in houses where there’s not a lot of communication like Puleng and her mum who doesn’t really talk. Teenagers go through so many things alone so hopefully, that starts conversations between parents and their kids. There are so many issues that the show covers but those are the main ones that stick out to me.

What are you most interested to see in season 2?

Naturally, I am really excited for season 2, kinda nervous as well because I have so many things that I want to improve so that I can be better than I was last season, you know? But I am so excited to see where the story goes. Personally, for season two I’d love to see how all the characters grow and I’d like to see more of the other characters like Zamar, Reece and into their backgrounds. But I’d also like to see fikile come into herself more and just have a voice. I wanna see if she also accepts the bombshell that was dropped in the season finale, like will she accept her new family? How will she cope with the entire situation?

If you were to play a celebrity in a documentary about there life, who would you want to play?

Am I cliche if I say Beyonce? I’ve admired her my entire life, there are literally pictures of 3 year old me, stomach out being Bey! She’s such a hard-working woman and not many people have reached her level and it’s all just down to hard work, her work ethic is amazing and definitely something I admire a lot about her.

Has the show changed your life in any way?

Definitely, for obvious reasons; I mean getting to work with a platform like Netflix for my first gig, sometimes I still can’t wrap my head around it! Then the exposure that I’ve received from the show too, I’m just hoping that it can open doors for me to continue growing and doing what I love but besides that, I still feel like the same old me.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I never know how to answer this question, but I just hope that in 10 years I have made a name for myself an that I am continuing to grow and doing what I love. I hope that I am at a point where I can help to uplift people, like younger people who want to be actors and involved in the arts because I’ve gotten so many messages from people asking, “how do you do this?” “How do you achieve your dreams?” As much as I do answer, I want to be able to really share good advice and be able to actually be helpful so I think that in 10 years I’ll actually be able to do that. Even have a programme that helps aspiring artists