But recently, Mampho Brescia’s character, Iris Zungu, has taken a different direction. After being kicked out of her lavish home by her husband, Zungu finds herself down and out with little hope that she will ever become the successful woman she feels she is destined to be. Having been in a similar situation during her career, this is not difficult for Brescia to portray.
“As an actress, you go through highs and lows,” she says.
“I’ve been told many times that I don’t look or sound South African. This has made it difficult for me to be cast in roles which I really wanted. For a long time, I felt like I was not good enough as an actress.”
Brescia’s accent is not common and is difficult to identify. At times Brescia has even been accused of “faking an American accent,” but after years of being criticised, she just shrugs this off.’
“I sound different, and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. Does it make me any less South African? No. I just speak the way I speak,” she says.
After her role as Zanele on M-Net’s Jacob’s Cross and an appearance on District 9, Brescia decided to try her luck in Hollywood, where she spent three years. She worked alongside Dustin Hoffman in the TV drama Luck and had a lead role in the film What To Bring To America.
“Hollywood was amazing for me. I got to experience the world of film and television in a completely different way. The fact that I looked and sounded ‘different’ was interesting for American casting agents, so it worked in my favour,” she smiles.
But this didn’t mean things were going to be easy for Brescia.
“There are a lot of talented actors in Hollywood and there are very few roles for black females, so you always have to give the best of yourself, even for the smallest role.”
If it weren’t for her family, Brescia doesn’t think she would have returned to South Africa.
“My husband and I decided last year that we were going to start a family,” she says, “and we wanted to do it here.”
Leaving the United States, meant that Brescia would be taking a break from her career to focus on being a wife and mother. But before she could unpack her suitcases, she was offered a role on Isibaya.
“This was a nice surprise for me. It gave me the reassurance I needed as an actress,” she says.
After Isibaya’s massive success as a telenovela, it returned as a soap.
“I didn’t plan to be on the show for so long, but I am really enjoying it. It’s giving me the opportunity to reinvent myself and have my acting skills challenged.”
Brescia hopes to spread her wings in the future with different roles, but not any time soon.
“I’ve recently had my first baby, so being a wife and mother are my most important roles for now.”
Did You Know?:
* Mampho Brescia has a Bachelors Degree in Political Science.
* She’s worked as a correspondence journalist for Japanese newspaper Mainichi.
* She owns an events company called Evening Flame Communications.
Isibaya airs on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) from Mondays to Thursdays at 8.30pm. For more information on Isibaya visit mzansimagic.dstv.com