It’s ironic, then, that Jet Novuka – who claims exactly that – has never really played a character who resembles a man of the cloth. But in person, the actor’s dialogue is not too different to that delivered from a pulpit. Novuka is a new addition on Isidingo and his character has impressed fans, critics and industry peers in a short space of time.
“I was ecstatic to learn that I would feature in Isidingo, which is such an iconic soapie,” Novuka says.
“This means that God is still in control, and it means that God still trusts me enough to use his ministry in a different dimension. I was really humbled by the fact that people in the industry still believe in my acting ability and that I still have a lot to offer.”
Novuka has played a likeable, chilled customer in Yizo Yizo and Zone 14, as well as a character who is intrinsically good, but has the connections to inflict evil on others if called upon to do so in Jacob’s Cross. In Isidingo, he plays Sizwe, a good-hearted fellow from the rural Eastern Cape – a set-up he has not come across in his work to date. Novuka literally becomes Sizwe – even on breaks during shooting, he wears the despondent outlook of his out-of-work character on his face.
“I always seek to play roles that I have not come across in my life,” Novuka says.
“It is very important for an actor to play different characters in order to grow as a thespian. You need to constantly challenge yourself and your artistic ability. You must remember that your gift comes from God, and if you respect that and that which God has bestowed upon you, then playing new roles should not be a problem.”
In the South African feature film Gog’ Helen, Novuka played what can only be described as a sadistic, godless psychopath. South Africa has not seen a villain portrayed in this manner in a while, and the performance even caused concern regarding Novuka’s mental health.
“I regard my profession as line of ministry and I trust God to lead me,” Novuka says, explaining his approach to the role.
“I take the role home and meditate upon it and try and find ways to explore the character. After thay film I got a call from a professor who is also my mentor from the states, and he said to me, ‘Son, are you okay’? People are starting to study my methodology as an actor, which is very humbling indeed.”
On a personal level, Novuka believes that people should be rooted and posses a strong sense of identity.
“There are three things that I don’t mess with: God, family and my country,” says Novuka.
“This is the greatest country in the world. It just needs dreamers and visionaries. It is a country for the living and is a source of inspiration. There is a reason we are here and why we were placed here and by being here we are honouring the ones before us, influencing the ones after us and protecting the present.”