TV’s leading lady Samkelo Ndlovu on challenging herself with each role

Published Apr 29, 2024


Samkelo Ndlovu is one of the actresses making a noise on the small screen at the moment.

With lead roles in “Reyka” and “Adulting”, the actress is now starring in BET Africa's new daily drama, “Queendom”, which premiered last week.

In the series, which celebrates the strength, resilience and power of women who shape their own destinies, the 34-year-old plays “a kasi girl who is the helper of her community”, as Ndlovu puts it.

“She stands up for the youth and runs a tavern. She is also a loan shark and often helps those in need. She’s the queen of her space and people love her,” she added to Independent Media Lifestyle.

Samkelo Ndlovu, Nhlanhla Kunene, Linda Mtoba and Sindi Dlathu are part of BET Africa’s new daily drama, ‘Queendom’. Picture: Supplied

Ndlovu portrays heart-throb Thabang Moshodi’s (Nhlanhla Kunene) love interest on the show.

Interestingly, she played his lover, Minky, in Adulting.

And while Ndlovu resonates with “Queendom’s” exploration of cultural heritage, tradition, fate, ancestry and identity, she is proud of all the characters that she has played to date.

Interestingly, she recently returned to acting after taking a brief hiatus to pursue her music career as Samú, where she worked with renowned musician DJ Kent on the hit song, Vertigo.

On making her mark now that she's back, she said: “It feels great to be back after my break and it feels like it was a good thing for me to take a break after working for 14 years non-stop.

“It has helped me regain the hunger and love for creating TV that I had when I first began.”

The Joburg-born actress’s big break was in 2011 when she was cast in the football comedy feature film, “Taka Taka”, in which she acted alongside renowned comedians Trevor Noah and Kagiso Lediga.

She went on to star in several productions, including “Soul City”, “Generations”, “Skeem Saam”, “Zone 14” and “Imbewu.”

Her star began to rise when she gained widespread recognition for her role as Lerato on the popular television series, “Rhythm City”.

When asked how she decides on which roles to take on, she replied: “I look at the production company and its reputation, then I read the girl or woman and see how far she is from me and how difficult it will be for me to play.”

She added that she looks for roles that challenge her as an actress.

“If it’s not scary for me, or if I don’t feel embarrassed or nervous while playing her, then it doesn’t feel like I’m being someone else. Then I look at the story and where the character is at and I prepare from there.

“I never repeat the same process with each girl or woman I play because they each demand their own portrayals.”

Ndlovu believes that her most challenging role to date was in “Adulting”.

“Minky, she’s so outward and I constantly had to check myself on set to see if I was not doing too much and the people around me would assure me that they love her just the way she is.

“It was only until I saw the response to her that I relaxed, and I know that it sounds outrageous, but it’s true.”

Fans were impressed by her animated character on season 2 of the hit show in which she played an animated girl from the township.

Minky even trended on social media when her scenes were aired earlier this year, with fans applauding Ndlovu for her stellar performance.

“With ‘Adulting’ it was more of a language thing that I prepared for,” she said.

“I wanted her to sound like the girl we all know, the multilingual and quintessential gangster girlfriend from eKasi.”

Seasoned actress Samkelo Ndlovu. Picture: Instagram.

Ndlovu took a different approach when she played detective Ayanda Jali on season 2 of “Reyka”, alongside Kim Engelbrecht.

“With ‘Reyka’, it was a lot more combat training, getting fit, learning police jargon and I got to spend time at a police station and watch how female detectives move, speak and go about their general lives.”

She said it had been her most fulfilling role.

“‘Ayanda is so inward that most of her responses to things are written on her face more than said.

“She is an introvert who hardly smiles and is running away from a toxic past.”

And while Ndlovu relishes the praise for all of her roles, she is thankful for the support and love she has received.

“I am in a constant state of happy surprise for the ‘Adulting’ role and for Ayanda.

“So far, I’ve heard good things about people's love for Ayanda, they love that she’s a moral praying woman and some have asked me to write down her prayer that she says out loud before entering dangerous crime scenes.”