Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Correspondent
Chrispen Nyathi who grew up in Zimbabwe’s cultural hub, Bulawayo, is now realising his dreams in South Africa after landing a gig on Mzansi Magic’s new series, Diep City.
The series which made its debut on Monday stars the likes of Mduduzi Mabaso who plays Suffocate on Rhythm City and Dawn Thandeka King who is adored by many for her vicious queen style as MaNgcobo on Uzalo.
After just one episode of the show that replaced the all-popular Isibaya, TV viewers have already fallen in love.
The 24-year-old Nyathi made his maiden appearance on Wednesday night as Charleston, an illegal immigrant based in Diep City.
Saturday Leisure caught up with the actor who explained his role in the series.
“Charleston is a young pastor and husband to one of the main characters. He believes being in South Africa is for a greater purpose. His wish is to see people change and he would like to contribute towards that change, but he and his wife, just don’t have enough funds as the church isn’t contributing enough,” said Nyathi.
Reflecting on his childhood, Nyathi said he was a nomad.
“My childhood was spent jumping from one place to the other. Since birth, until Grade Four, I was in the township, moving from eMganwini to Sizinda. From Grade 4, I had to move to Hillside where I stayed with my granny who was a domestic worker there. I completed my primary schooling at Hillside Primary School.
“During my first term in high school at Hamilton, my granny and I moved to the country side in Plumtree, ko-Masendu. Due to that, I found myself attending school at Madlambuzi,” said Nyathi.
He said switching from urban to rural life was difficult but he managed to cope.
“That life (rural) wasn’t smooth as it was very different from the city but I survived. I was there for two years and then I was relocated to Joburg which is where I completed my secondary schooling.
“Just like every kid, I have bounced from one dream to the other, but I always loved acting. I got to realise that during my days at Hillside school as we always used to act out various plays,” he said.
Nyathi said after relocating to South Africa in 2019, where he attended Denver Secondary School, he gained inspiration from the South African series, Zone 14’s Vusa Thwala through his arts nurturing school projects like Behind The Blazer which he conducted at various schools including Denver.
“We used to take part in Behind the Blazer after school as our principal was strict. This project was very effective as I managed to bag acting appearances on series like AksiSpaza, Binnelanders and Accused.”
Narrating how he got the Diep City gig, Nyathi said Mandla N. who is behind Black Brain Pictures, the producers of Diep City wanted fresh faces for the production, something which worked to his advantage.
“When Mandla N. felt like South Africa needed new faces in the game, he started a movement where he called on the opening up of the acting industry. He started hosting auditions online for Vula Vala and Diep City, with his target being fresh faces.
“I took part in the auditions and got casted for the show,” he said.
Nyathi said he is enjoying being on the show and is learning from his fellow cast members.
“Spending time with people like Mam Dawn, Mduduzi Mabaso and Hamilton Dlamini has been a learning curve. Whenever I’m on set with Mam Dawn specifically, I go home with a note to hold on to,” said Nyathi. – @mthabisi_mthire