Mondays-Thursdays on BET (DStv channel 129) at 21:30
Mondays-Thursdays on BET (DStv channel 129) at 21:30

Meet the hand that rocks the world in Isono


Zola Nombona’s new character, Zoleka, refuses to take second place in her career or her fling Makwande’s life in BET’s (DStv channel 129) daily drama Isono. “She’s the hunter, never the prey,” says Zola

BET’s (DStv channel 129) scandalous telenovela Isono has never shied away from exploring and celebrating powerful women who are as commanding as they are flawed. Instead, they are the heart of the drama series. Zola Nombona’s new character, Zoleka Sigcawu, who joined the telenovela in early April, is a case in point.

Zoleka is intelligent, unapologetically ambitious, and confident – a lethal combination that has driven her to kick open doors and take lead in a male-dominated industry, as the head of a sports channel. “Zoleka is the type of woman who knows what she wants, and she isn’t afraid to go after her goals. She is a force to be reckoned with,” explains Zola.

But there’s something threatening to derail Zoleka’s illustrious career: Her secret affair with former football player Makwande (Anga Makubalo). She recently hired him as a sports analyst without disclosing their relationship to the board of directors at the channel, and soon enough, their romance becomes a source of tension, not just because they’re forced to hide their feelings for each other in public, but also because Makwande is still in love with his ex-girlfriend and superstar musician Esther (Didintle Khunou) – daughter of undercover gang boss Mary (Nthati Moshesh).

“The last thing that Zoleka expects is competing for Makwande’s affection this early in their romance. She’s an all-or-nothing kind of woman, who wants an equal in her partner,” says the 29-year-old Zola about Zoleka’s love triangle.

As their relationship unfolds, she’ll force Makwande to choose between her and Esther. But will she be happy with what he decides? Zola lifts the lid on Zoleka and Makwande’s messy romance.

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Holding onto the past?

Zoleka is the territorial type. She’s has absolutely no intention of sharing Makwande with any woman, and it was immediately evident when she arrived on the scene. Zoleka was on a date with Makwande when they bumped into Esther ahead of the latter’s performance. For a moment, Makwande only had eyes for Esther. He couldn’t stop showering the musician with compliments, leaving Zoleka seething.

Not one to be upstaged, when Zoleka discovered that Esther would be performing, she faked an illness to prevent Makwande from seeing his ex on stage. The next morning, Zoleka yanked Makwande from the sports show at the last minute. “Listen, I don’t care about you and your ex-girlfriend. There are other commentators that have a quota to reach on their contracts. I’m juggling here,” was her dismissive response when Makwande confronted her. Makwande later apologised for his actions, but it isn’t clear if it was because he seeks a genuine relationship with Zoleka, or whether he just wanted to return to the sports show.

Turning a new leaf

In the past, Zola says she shied away from auditioning for telenovelas and soapies as they require more time commitment than a TV series. “I’m the type of performer who enjoys exercising their acting muscle. In other words, I love jumping from one character to the next. It usually takes months for a character to evolve in a telenovela or soapie and I didn’t want to join a production without fully exploring their journey,” says Zola, who also portrays business graduate-turned-gangster Roxanne in action drama show Z’bondiwe (2015-2017), and convict Monde in Mzansi Magic prison drama series Lockdown (2017-now).

But after reading Zoleka’s script, Zola was eager to play the role. “I’ve always played the damsel in distress – and Zoleka is far from that. She’s the hunter, never the prey. I’ve been waiting for a new challenge to dive into. And I’m glad that it’s in Isono, a telenovela that I follow.”


Together again

Zoleka reveals that because Isono is the first telenovela that she’s acted on, she was nervous, adding, “I won’t lie. It took some adjusting. I’m used to filming scenes on locations with natural light and multiple cameras. Working on a studio set, where there’s a closed space, pushed me out of my comfort zone,” explains the actress.

But finding out that Zoleka’s love interest is played by Anga, who also plays Roxanne’s boyfriend, Ntando in Z’bondiwe, helped to ease Zola’s nerves in her new working environment. “It was a happy reunion, for sure. I was assured, knowing that I’d be walking into the unfamiliar space with someone that I know and share chemistry with.”

Watch Isono, Mondays-Thursdays on BET (DStv channel 129) at 21:30 

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