‘When I started in 1989 I was earning R40 per week’ – Slindile Nodangala on her career in showbiz
Slindile Nodangala. (Photo: DRUM)
Johannesburg - She’s probably always going to be remembered as Mam’ Ruby, the sharp-witted, quick-tempered shebeen queen she portrayed on Generations.
But there’s a lot more to Slindile Nodangala (46) than just one character. After nearly three decades in the entertainment industry she’s been there, seen this, done that. There have been ups and downs along the way but she somehow always comes out on top. She marked her recent 29th anniversary in the world of entertainment with a post on her Instagram account.
“When I started in 1989 I was earning R40 per week,” she wrote. “I toyed with the idea of becoming a nurse or Zulu police ’cause at least they have benefits but your calling is your calling.”
In her years in showbiz she’s starred in the award-winning movie Izulu Lami as well as It’s Complicated, The Lion King musical and Skwizas.
And then, of course, there was her long-running role on Generations , which came to an abrupt end when she was fired in 2014 along with a host of other top stars after going on strike for better pay.
She was sorry to leave but that’s in the past now and she’s moved onto other things.
“I love acting and when you love what you do you give it your all. It’s my calling,” she tells DRUM.
And it seems her calling loves her too. The busy mom of two is a regular on SA’s small screen again, playing the funky Thando on the Mzansi Magic drama series Ring of Lies and Blossom on e.tv’s Rhythm City.
She also recently finished a stint on acclaimed prison drama series Lockdown on Mzansi Magic. Slindile played the fierce Beauty Gumede, a prison governor who ran a tight ship. She had fans shook with her antics and when her character was shot dead in her car by her rival, Deborah Banda (Pamela Nomvete), some even breathed a sigh of relief.
Many saw her role as evil, but Slindile begs to differ when it comes to Thando and Beauty.
“Nothing is evil about those two ladies, they are just victims of their circumstances.”
Luckily no part of her characters rubbed off on her, she says.
“When the director says ‘cut’, it’s back to Sli.”
It may seem as if she moved seamlessly from Generations to other roles but it wasn’t as easy as it looked, she admits.
Slindile says the most challenging experience she’s had as an actress is “being jobless for sure”. But being an actress prepared her for the tough times – this industry means you’re often between jobs, she says.
“The lack of work wasn’t new to me,”
She told Destiny magazine last year. “In theatre, there are times where you won’t get jobs for as long as eight months. It’s through those tough times that I realised I had good friends because my friends and family were there for me and carried me through.”
Besides friends and family, Slindile acknowledges the role played by God during the lean months.
“I had patience that God will provide,” she says.
Now she almost has more work than she knows what to do with.
Slindile loves playing Blossom on Rhythm City – the unassuming woman is the opposite of feisty Mam’ Ruby, she says. “I just love her demeanour.”
But don’t ask her to choose which of all the characters she’s played over the years she loves the most.
“I don’t have a favourite because I’ve put a lot of effort into all of them,” she says. Slindile admits acting isn’t for the faint-hearted and, when asked what advice she has for young people starting out in the industry, she doesn’t hesitate to reply.
“Be patient,” she says. “It’s hard sometimes and you’ll feel like you chose the wrong field. Practice perseverance.”