We catch up with the SA actress who stars in Orange is the New Black

2018-07-30 14:48

Cape Town - She’s no stranger to the international small-screen and now Phumzile Sitole (28) can add another award-winning television series to her CV.

The Johannesburg-born actress is known for her role in the CBS legal drama The Good Fight but is now starring in the Emmy-winning drama, Orange is the New Black (OITNB).

Phumzile takes on the role of Antoinetta “Akers” Kerson. She told YOU about her character.

“Akers is a young woman with a hard shell and soft exterior, she changes throughout the season,” she says.

The 28-year-old adds that it was essential for her to connect with the character and she even found a few similarities between herself and Akers.

“We’re trained to empathise, so I think it’s vital for an actor to find a way of personally connecting to their character.

“In this way you realise how many things we have in common as human beings.”

Phumzile, who says she was excited to be part of the OITNB cast, explains that she’s been shooting since August 2017, a week after her audition.

“Only my immediate family and friends knew about my role shortly after I booked it, but they were of course sworn to secrecy.”

She adds that she felt a bit intimidated when she started working on the show, but then found her groove as the season continued.

“I was overwhelmed initially, but settled eventually. It was a balance of owning one’s space in an environment that was really intimidating, but also welcoming at the same time.

“It took a few episodes for me to get used to everything, but I also loved being on set and watching how big productions work.”

Her audition process for the female prison-themed show was different than other roles she’s played.

“I was so comfortable during the audition.

“Usually auditions for TV require a lot of physical preparation with make-up, heels and so forth – but this one called for me to specifically wear no make-up and a plain white T-shirt, so I felt more like myself and just had fun with it.”

The former Cooking Magic presenter jokes about still learning to cope with the American accent.

“Learning the accent is a process, but it helps to be surrounded by Americans, so I learn by listening a lot. I also ask friends for help all the time!”

Phumzile completed her BA in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town (UCT) before moving to the United States in 2013 to attain her Masters in Fine Arts at Columbia University.

The actress says that although she misses her family and friends, she feels connected to them because of the support they give her.

“I miss my family and friends a lot. I have a huge but close extended family, so it’s really hard being away from my aunts and uncles and cousins. Every trip home is really important for me to connect with them.”

She ends by expressing her gratitude for all the support she’s received, not only from relatives and friends, but from South Africa as a whole.

“I’ve gotten so much support from back home, I’m really grateful for that. It was really unexpected and appreciated.”

Fly the South African flag high, girl!

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.