Eastern Cape actress bags Netflix series role after ‘Black is King’ success

Ben-Mazwi riding wave after being handpicked by Beyoncé for globally acclaimed visual album

Port Elizabeth actress Nambitha Ben-Mazwi has bagged the role of Refiloe in new SA Netflix original series 'How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding'
PARTY GIRL: Port Elizabeth actress Nambitha Ben-Mazwi has bagged the role of Refiloe in new SA Netflix original series 'How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding'
Image: SJ Van Zyl

Hot on the heels of her appearance on the globally acclaimed Black is King visual album by Beyoncé, New Brighton-born actress Nambitha Ben-Mazwi landed a role in the latest SA Netflix original three-part series.

The star, who was handpicked by Beyoncé to appear on the African-inspired album, said she had no doubt the experience was only the beginning of greater things for her.

She plays Refiloe in How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding.

This is the actress’s first appearance in a comedy.

“I’ve been wanting to do comedy and with this being my first comic role, I realise that it’s a different ballgame because not only are you there to tell the story, but also to make sure that the scene is funny.“However [to keep the story alive] you also can’t get too funny because we’re still human with vulnerabilities that form a part of who we are,” she said.

The star-studded series is about a Christmas wedding in a  dysfunctional family. Ben-Mazwi plays a bubbly, loud bridesmaid who is always up for a good time.

“As loud and fun as Refiloe is, she has flaws that she tries to hide behind the bubbly personality and I think viewers will either identify themselves, or those loud friends who are always the life of the party, in her.

“Even though people might think she’s not the smartest, she picks up on a lot and I think, like every character, she is people’s mirror,” Ben-Mazwi said.

How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding is a Burnt Onion production and the second Netflix original by the creators of Seriously Single.

It stars familiar faces including Thando Thabethe as Beauty Sello, Clementine Mosimane as Dineo Sello, Busisiwe Lurayi as Tumi Sello, Yonda Thomas as Khaya Manqele, Sandile Mahlangu as Sbu Twala, Motlatsi Mafatshe as Themba Twala, Rami Chuene as Aunt Grace, Trevor Gumbi as Siya Twala, Nandi Nyembe as Gogo Twala and Desmond Dube as Uncle Shadrack.

The series was shot during the lockdown — from August — under strict regulations.

The crew and cast were quarantined in a hotel where they stayed for six weeks while shooting the series.

“It was quite a challenging period without much room to celebrate because we had to be tested and isolate while awaiting our results and then we started shooting under very strict protocols.

 
“It was almost like we were in the Big Brother house and being driven to the set and back to the hotel,” she said.

Ben-Mazwi appeared in Beyonce’s Black is King, a visual special accompanying the album The Lion King: The Gift, which premiered to critical acclaim in SA in August.

She was among a number of South Africans including Moonchild Sanelly, Connie  Chiume, Busiswa Gqulu, Nandi Madida and the late Mary Twala who were featured in the visual album.

The actress said the feature had unlocked something in her.

“It’s like Black is King unlocked a different level in my career, where I’m going and being more globally centred in my approach. I am in awe of what God is doing in my life and am more cognisant of the fact that the world really is my oyster,” Ben-Mazwi said.

She said she was happy to be a part of Africa’s growing presence on Netflix.

“I am excited to join the Netflix family because everyone wants to do an African Netflix original and the investment that Netflix puts into these productions is absolute world-class.


“I like to call this time in my life a trajectory shift and it started after Black is King. You have no idea what’s about to unravel,” she said.

The release date for How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding is yet to be announced.  

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