20 May 2020
Zodwa, Gomora’s rough diamond
Sannah Mchunu has been in the acting game for years, but her latest character could be her greatest: Gomora’s loud-mouthed, word-slurring, trouble-making drunk mom, Zodwa.
The character’s lifestyle choices have seen her teen son Teddy taken out of her care and put into a healthier environment, which leaves Zodwa free to booze it up 24/7. When she’s not stumbling through the high school bellowing out Teddy’s name and embarrassing him in front of his classmates, Zodwa can be found gulping down beer with her besties.
Right before production took a break for lockdown, Zodwa barged into headmaster Melusi’s (Zolisa Xaluva) house and held his son Ntokozo (Ntobeko Sishi) at knife-point, demanding Teddy be given back to her. (All 20 episodes of Gomora that were filmed before lockdown are available to binge now on Showmax, with new episodes coming
While Zodwa isn’t afraid to use violence to get her way, the actress playing her is far more docile, sweet-natured and kind. We found out more about her.
Meet Sannah Mchunu.
I was born and raised in Mofolo North, Soweto. I grew up with my baby sister, Ntombizodwa. Something you wouldn’t know is that I danced for late music superstar Brenda Fassie as a teenager. I had to stop dancing when I became a mother at a young age, which is why I also took a little longer to get into acting.
Why has Zodwa been welcomed with open arms by audiences?
I did not expect [the viewer reaction] at all. But come to think of it, Zodwa’s role is common in most communities, where you find a mother who is devastated and lost in the everyday life that leads to substance dependency. It doesn’t only happen with women, but men as well. There’s a Zodwa in every community and I think that is why she has touched viewers so much.
Did you immediately identify with Zodwa?
The challenge of playing a character out of my comfort zone always inspires me to “kill” the performance. I loved everything about Zodwa from the very first reading, but mostly the unconditional love she shows even when under the influence. Her “Teddy Bear” always comes first.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned from playing Zodwa?
It takes a lot of strength to be a mother, having to take care of an entire human being while faced with your own life challenges. It’s a lot of pressure but that’s just the super-power that we women possess. And that’s one of the most important lesson this character has taught me.
Which of your cast-mates have you gained a lot of wisdom from?
Honestly, I’ve vibed with all the cast on set, including the crew. Every actor – from the established ones like Zolisa to the newcomers like Sicelo – has inspired me in different ways.
What other types of characters would you like to portray?
Any challenging character! I pride myself on being versatile. Whatever gets thrown my way, I run with it fully. It doesn’t matter if it’s a character within the norm or outside of the norm, I’m willing to go all-in for my roles.
When do you do when you’re not working?
I’m at home catching up on motherhood when I’m not working. But for my profession, I am always analysing past characters that I have portrayed and how I could have improved each performance. The usual socialising with family and friends makes it easy for me to pick up on new inspirations for characters, aspects and personality traits that I can add to Zodwa and anyone else I will play in future.
The first 20 episodes of Gomora are available to binge on Showmax now. New episodes will be streaming from 1 June 2020, 24 hours after the Mzansi Magic broadcast.