Lead actress Ayakha Ntunja on her role on Youngins S1

14 February 2024

Lead actress Ayakha Ntunja on her role on Youngins S1

Ayakha Ntunja’s breakthrough began in 2023, when she played the role of Thembi in Season 3 of MTV Shuga Down South. Fast-forward to 2024 and the 20-year-old is leading the cast of teen drama series Youngins, now streaming on Showmax. 

The rising star plays the role of Amo Mosweu, a sweet, determined girl from a rural town in KwaZulu-Natal. Amo is smart, beautiful and seems to know exactly what she wants out of life. That is, until she gets to Olifantsfontein High School, where an unexpected experience gains her new friends and a different perspective on life.

Ayakha Ntunja as Amo in Youngins

We chatted to Ayakha about her first Showmax Original.

What attracted you to this project? 

I wanted to work on a project that is youth based. We all wanted to put our all into it and we gave our best. We are committed to producing something that people can watch years down the line, something they can watch over and over again because it’s that good. 

I couldn’t be happier. I fell in love with the different storytelling, something I haven’t seen on screen. 

I like the fact that we were going to give a whole new perspective to high school life, while opening up the industry and giving chances to unknown talent. 

For instance, I’ve never led a story before. This is my first lead role, and it has truly been a journey of learning and experience. The pressure is intense, but I’m having fun with it, and I’m thrilled to finally give my all. 

What kept you excited about this season?

The storyline! Every time I received a new script, I was shocked and intrigued and kept wondering, “What are we doing now?” Trust me when I say we do not know what’s happening next; it continues to shock us. I’m genuinely excited about the unpredictability of the storyline.

Playing this role took me out of my comfort zone, like Amo. I am learning alongside her, making this season both exciting and endearing.

Do you think you have anything in common with your character and what are the big differences?

Amo is very different from me right now but very similar to me back when I was in high school. I was someone who really had my goals intact and really knew what I wanted in life but just didn’t have the grit and the confidence in myself to achieve those things. So a lot of the times when you see Amo falling into some situations, I was like that too. You only learn afterwards that some things could have been handled differently. But she has a bigger fight on her hands. Her little personas and ways of handling situations was a bit similar to me but she’s different to me because now I know where I am in life and have a bit of a confident streak.

Tell us one thing you did for the first time when it comes to filming this project? 

This was the first project where I really needed to learn how to de-role from my character. While I’ve always known how to step into other characters and give my all, I never learned how to truly separate myself from them. With Amo, I had to learn how to separate myself from her because I found myself constantly thinking about everything else that happened throughout the day, but I could tell that it wasn’t me.

When I was able to de-role properly, I learned to perceive Amo as an individual, inviting her in when getting into character and then disconnecting from her identity, story and experiences when I got home. This process not only helped me understand Amo but also provided a lot of clarity about myself as well. It allowed for balance and to view Amo’s story from various perspectives, questioning her emotions and actions at different moments.

Why should audiences watch Youngins?  

I believe that this show will entice you from every angle. It gives an exciting storyline, incredible actors, and moments where you’re drawn into the characters, which allows you to understand where they’re coming from. 

I feel like we’ve put in a lot of hard work to create a beautiful story, aiming to convey that we’re having fun, we’re young, and there’s excitement in the air. However, I also believe that we are educating our audience along the way. There are some deeply profound storylines that will resonate with certain viewers, storylines we have handled with care. It’s a testament to our commitment to continue fighting for people. 

I am excited to watch the show and I genuinely hope everyone else is too. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a show like this on our screens. 

Catch Ayakha Ntunja in her lead role as Amo in Youngins S1, now streaming on Showmax.

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