Jessica Sithole who plays Nyakallo in the award winning telenovela, The River, recently spoke to The Citizen in a wide-ranging interview on her road to acting fame.
“What inspired my career path was a notable American series I watched when I was in grade 10. I was pleasantly surprised and admired the way in which the actors and actresses delivered their roles,” Sithole said.
“The characters playing their roles looked like a lot of work. The science and the build-up which is what we always see on our screens is an element that really captured me. The curiosity of the planning is what caught my attention to end up wanting to pursue acting,” she told The Citizen.
Nyakallo was introduced to the Dikana family to fill in for her aunt Flora and to fulfill her choral duties. She comes across as shy and obedient, but later falls in love with not only her boss but a married man.
Lately the drama series has viewers glued to their screens asking for longer episodes because of her character who highlights several important themes such as infidelity, deceit and marriage.
Although the 22 year old studied the arts, she said she didn’t think her career would peak any time soon.
“I studied drama and theatre arts at the University of the Free State. This year I was pursuing my honours degree, but unfortunately I could not proceed because of the role I landed on The River. I must emphasise that acting was not my first love but modelling.”
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The Bloemfontein born and bred actress said she thoroughly studied and understood her character.
“When I was tasked with Nyakallo’s character and her description I tried to dissect and understand it fully because that is what brings forth to our television screens. I tried dissecting every letter of her name and I could say each letter represented her characteristics and that’s how I brought her to life,” she said.
“She’s soft but comes across as deceptive, she’s also very sleek. She never existed so I tried understanding what she could possibly be.”
The actress said she enjoyed playing the character because South Africans resonated with it and it gave couples something to discuss about their own relationships.
“I’ll use marriage as an example of a theme from the telenovela, because today in marriages we find that we see the woman not being as submissive compared to the olden days. With Nyakallo, she does what women in the olden days did which is extreme, she makes sure Ntate Zweli’s hands are washed before eating, putting food on the table with care,” she said.
“The story line resonates with people because it questions the different aspects of marriage and where we stand as women in marriages in today’s society. It’s not dictating which way is correct but it gives us clues and elements of what maybe we as women may be overlooking. It gives both the husband and the wife something to think about as to where we stand as a couple.”