Director Eric Mogale on working on the action-packed series Empini

By Zibuyile Dladla23 May 2024

Director Eric Mogale on working on the action-packed series Empini

Now streaming on Showmax, Empini is an action-packed, 52-episode drama set in the dangerous world of private security, directed by Eric Mogale, a two-time Best Director winner at the SAFTAs for Rhythm City. 

Eric has also been SAFTA-nominated for directing The Wife, Showmax’s most-watched series ever, and counts Uzalo, South Africa’s most-watched TV show, among his credits. 

Siyabonga Thwala as Khaya and Nambitha Ben-Mazwi as Ndoni in Empini on Showmax

Zibuyile Dladla caught up with the director to find out more about the private security industry and working with multi-award winners Clive Morris Productions (Isono, Grassroots) and a star-studded cast that includes Nambitha Ben-Mazwi and three-time SAFTA winner Siyabonga Thwala. 

Why did you want to be involved in Empini?

I wanted to be involved because of my interest in Ndoni Themba [Nambitha Ben-Mazwi] and her rigorous quest for the truth. Although Ndoni has so many odds stacked against her, she is constantly fighting tooth and nail to get to the bottom of the truth – bearing in mind that the truth that she is seeking has the potential to overthrow many powerful people and places her in even more danger. What’s inspiring to me about Ndoni is that although troubled by her past, she is still thriving in this male-dominated industry, despite also being met with constant pushback from the powers that be.

What makes Empini stand out from other TV shows you’ve been involved in, like The Wife?

Nambitha Ben-Mazwi stars as Ndoni in Empini

What’s different about Empini is that Ndoni is not a victim, in comparison to the character of Hlomu on The Wife. Even with everyone trying to belittle and suppress her, she still fights. She doesn’t allow herself to be a victim. Everything that Ndoni does is planned and calculated. Even if it’s a hit or a miss, her actions are intentional. She is not a reactive but a proactive character, which is different from some of the other characters I’ve worked on. 

What surprised you in your research into the private security industry?

I was surprised at the amount of power, influence and control the private security industry has in the country. I knew private security was important but I did not grasp the magnitude of its power. 

Most South Africans have been annoyed by a blue light brigade at some stage of their lives. After making Empini, how will your reaction be different the next time you see one?

My reaction lately is more of an informed one. Now when I see a blue light brigade, I can sort of tell, ‘Oh, okay, this is a BG 1 brigade or a BG 2 brigade.’ BG stands for bodyguard and I find it so hilarious that I now speak that type of security language since working on Empini. I’ve even come to understand that the number of bodyguards that protect certain government officials varies, so just from seeing the number of blue lights on the road I can tell that this particular brigade is either driving a mayor, minister or MEC.

What are people going to be talking about at the end of the first episode?

People are going to be intrigued; the first episode hints at the fact that there is a lot of secrecy and mystery in this world. As the storyline progresses, there are a lot of damning secrets that are going to be revealed and that is something viewers will look forward to finding out.

Two new episodes of Empini are available to stream on Showmax every Thursday until November 2024. 

Watch the trailer for Empini

Join the conversation: #EmpiniShowmax

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