Multi award-winning actor Bongile Mantsai has joined Mzansi Magic’s telenovela Gqeberha: The Empire.
Speaking to Sunday World on Friday, Mantsai said he was thrilled when he was approached to join the drama series, noting that it has been a wonderful experience.
“I was out of the country for a while and when I came back, I got the offer to play the role of Hlumelo, a brother to Luzuko Mxenge who is one of the main characters on the show,” Mantsai said.
“I was excited because this is home and I will get to speak isiXhosa as I work.
“Even though I joined a cast that was already working and used to each other, they welcomed me with warm hands. So far, it has been incredible.”
Describing his new role on the show, the Cape Town-born thespian who played the role of Mthunzi on e.tv’s soapie Scandal! said he is portraying a former boxer who is coming to help his brother build his empire.
“Hlumelo is coming with good intention but intentions come with circumstances. He is willing to help his brother with the challenges he faces while he is trying to build.
“I don’t know how the storyline is going to unfold as the character evolves,” he chuckled.
Commenting about harnessing his craft and the love for isiXhosa as his home language, Mantsai said he invested in the language by watching shows like Ityala Lamawele, Ingqumbo Yeminyanya, and reading isiXhosa novels.
“Through this, I discovered that we are overlooking an audience that desperately wants to learn the language and the joy it brings them as they watch shows in their language.
He said he enjoys playing the villain, because they bring drama and excitement to the storyline.
“If you are playing the villain and the people who watch the show hate you, know that you are doing something right.
“I enjoy the contrast because I am totally the opposite of these dark characters that I play.
“I am a Christian and I somehow carry these characters that I play with me. I get shocked when I meet people on the streets and they remember the things that were said by a character I played in a particular show.”
Mantsai is expected to make his debut on Monday. The show is screened on channel 161 every weekday at 9pm.