Gugu Zulu: I never thought I'd be in a movie so soon

2017-11-27 14:54

Johannesburg – Telling the story of a village girl with the dream of making it big in Johannesburg, She Is King has a cast of popular local stars which include Khabonina Qubeka, Aubrey Poo, and Khanyi Mbau. 

Gugu Zulu is able to show off her love of music, dance and acting in this local flick, taking on the role of leading lady Khanyisile Khumalo. The star, who made it all the way to the top 16 in the 13th season of Idols SA, had a chat with Channel24 about the big opportunity.  

What was it about this project that drew you in?

When I first read the script I realised that it was actually more about Mkabayi and women, and empowering them, and I’m all about that. So when I saw it I was like, 'Okay of course I want to be a part of this!' There’s singing, there’s acting, and there’s dancing. At the same time we’re educating women about other strong women, so why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that? A part of history, basically.

What was it about the character that resonated with you?

Almost everything. Khanyi is a girl from the rural area, I’m from KZN, in a semi-rural area. I studied, I worked hard and fixed my craft, making sure when I come here (Johannesburg) I know what I’m doing. So by the time I got here everything happened, it was just sort of falling into place. Of course, I went through challenges, which Khanyi also did. The challenges she went through are with relationships, getting a job, getting turned down at first and eventually getting the part, (and) family issues. Everybody goes through that. I feel like we really do click and connect because I myself go through those things.” 

What can you tell us about the journey Khanyisile takes in the film?

I feel like Khanyi goes from being a very timid farm girl who is not really sure about life and is just trying to actually grab onto everything and please everyone, to a lady who really knows who she is and stands up for herself and decides on her own that, ‘listen I’m actually this person and I’m going to do things this way. I don’t care if I don’t have that man that everybody claims you must have in Joburg, or the glamour, or the support of everybody, I’m going to do what I’m doing and that’s the final verdict.'

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What was most challenging about taking on this role? 

The most challenging part was having to work with all these greats. In the movie there’s all these great actresses and actors – Aburey Poo, Khabonina, Sophie Ndaba, Mike Mvelase, all these people that I’ve been seeing on screen ever since, you know? And it’s like, I’m playing lead? How on earth am I going to play lead when all these people are here? That was pretty challenging.

What was your favourite scene to film? 

It’s a very sad scene but I really loved it. I was with this homeless lady under a bridge and she helped me. She has nothing, but she helped me into her house, which was a wreck – literally an abandoned building. She gave me a blanket, she had this fire thing going on and she was just so kind. It made me tear up and get so emotional because that’s how South Africans are – even with nothing a person would help. It’s so heartwarming. It felt so real to me.”

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What are some of the highlights of working on this project? 

My best highlight was actually getting the role. Cause I never thought in my life I’d actually be in a movie so soon. I’ve literally only been in this industry for roughly two years. So I was like, 'What? My first big role and I’ve just arrive?' Having my music being played on the film was like, "What? I wrote that!' I was absolutely proud of myself.

What do you hope viewers take away from this film? 

I’d really love for viewers to take away the fact that music and acting really is real, and South Africans actually can do that as well. It’s not just something Americans only can do. Yes, they’ve mastered it, but we were born with all this musicality in us. If you look at every South African culture, there’s music involved, there’s dancing involved, that’s just our life. So why not tell our stories in that way? Why are we letting everyone else do it for us?

Watch the trailer here:

She is King opens in cinemas nationwide on Friday, 1 December.

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