The former Generations lead actor, known to his fans as Ngamla (his character on the popular soapie), started shooting his first scenes on Ashes To Ashes yesterday. Despite having recently undergone a kidney transplant, he is full of energy and is excited about his new role.
“It feels good to be back,” he says with a smile. “I spent a long time waiting for the doctor to tell me I was ready to go back to work. “When he gave me the green light a few weeks ago, I was the happiest man on earth.”
Ngubane takes on the role of Nkonzo Mazibuko, a diligent policeman who cannot turn a blind eye to the smallest crime; a role which stands in stark contrast to the feared villain he played on Generations.
He says about his new role: “Ashes To Ashes has really been a blessing to me. Now that I am here, I feel like I should have left Generations a long time ago. I was just too comfortable there. I got used to people seeing me at the mall saying ‘hello Ngamla’.”
The 50-year-old was among the 16 actors and actresses who were sacked from Generations last year following a lengthy pay dispute with the soap’s creator and head producer Mfundi Vundla.
During a media briefing last year by the Generations 16, explaining their grievances, Ngubane broke down as he explained how he was expected to work everyday while undergoing dialysis four times a day. Even though he did not appreciate the way he left Generations, he says there are no hard feelings between him and Vundla.
“I read somewhere that I [had] said the new Generations was rubbish. I never said that,” he says. “But it’s not what it used to be. There was a time when Generations would never be moved from the 8pm slot – not even for the soccer [broadcast], because the ratings were so good. Now they can even play it at 10.”
Speaking on what he anticipates to be his biggest challenge on Ashes To Ashes, Ngubane says: “It’s always a bit difficult to join a cast after they’ve been working together for so many months.
“They have already gelled and gotten to know one another, but I’ve worked with a lot of them and they’ve started welcoming me into the Ashes To Ashes family.”
Even though his current role is smaller compared to the one he held on Generations, he feels very optimistic about it.
“I don’t really believe in small roles. A role is a role and I will play it to the best of my ability. If all I have is one sentence in a scene, I promise you it will be the best sentence of the entire scene,” he says. “People will be talking about that one sentence after the show is over. I have a lot of love and respect for my craft. I don’t need to have a big role in order for me to act.”
Ngubane says his life has changed for the better since viewers last saw him on Generations. “I have been given a second chance at life and I’m not going to be reckless with it.”