After years of only getting small or cameo roles, Bhisho-born actor Vusumzi Ntshanga has finally landed himself a major role in a BBC drama series shown in 200 countries worldwide.
The 24-year-old graduate of the AFDA School of Motion Picture and Live Performance will be playing the character Innocent in Call the Midwife which has already aired on BBC One and will be playing on South African screens from January 17.
The series is a British period drama set in the late 1950s and is centred around a nursing convent in the deprived Poplar district of London.
The series first aired in 2012 and in 2015 it was commissioned for a 2016 Christmas special set in Cape Town which featured scores of locals as extras in the episode.
Speaking to the Saturday Dispatch, Ntshanga recalled preparing for this role, which he described as his “biggest yet” and pushed him to new limits.
“In the series I play a young man who is trying to get help for his wife who is in labour and cannot walk to the hospital.
“I had to really stretch myself emotionally because there is a child involved whose life is on the line. My character has to fight for this child to live and to bring that character to life I had to really dig deep,” said Ntshanga.
He researched extensively about the period in order to make the character believable.
Since graduating in 2014, Ntshanga – who matriculated from St Christopher’s private school in King William’s Town – said he had worked in everything from soapies, to drama series, to adverts and theatre.
He’s had cameos on Generations, Umfolozi Street and starred in a Nando’s advert.
He said although there were only three at the auditions he was still uncertain about his chances of getting the role.
Ntshanga is not only into acting. He is currently a content producer on the DStv lifestyle show BET A-list, because “you still have to eat even when the acting jobs are scarce, and they are!”
One of his jobs was as a junior production manager for Okuhle Media, producers of the SABC 2 kiddies’ show Hectic-9.
His long-term goals include producing and starring in his own shows and films.
“The industry does have limitations like executive powers and channel preferences, but there are also lots of technological advances and platforms which allow us to create our own content and to do your own thing. I plan on using these opportunities,” he said.
lCatch Ntshanga on DStv channel 119 on January 17 at 8pm. — firstname.lastname@example.org