Taking Centre Stage: Samke’s Rise to MTV Shuga

Samke Makhoba is set for her first ever appearance on screen in the new season of MTV Shuga: Down South. From public auditions to a leading role as ‘Khensani’, Samke has had a roller coaster journey. MTV Shuga checked out over 1000 up-and-coming South African actors and actresses in our public and online auditions, as we searched for the next big thing. Could she be Mzani’s new star? Find out for yourself…

MTV SHUGA: Welcome to the Shugafam! For those who don’t know you, introduce yourself to the MTV Shuga crew…

Thank you for the welcome. My name is Samke Makhoba. I am a 28 years old lady from Pinetown, born in Mlazi. I am a film student, and an actress part of an amazing production, MTV Shuga: Down South playing 15 year old ‘Khensani’.

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MTV SHUGA: What were you doing before MTV Shuga?

Before MTV Shuga I was and still am a full time student, currently doing my honours at the University of Witwatersrand. I major in directing and editing, and I must say that after all of the fun that I have had on MTV Shuga along with a lot of learning, I would love to direct a scene (or an episode) one day. #HintHintWinkWink.

MTV SHUGA: You got your role as Khensani through the public audition process, what made you apply?

My passion for the industry made want to apply, but what mostly drew me to the auditions is what MTV Shuga stands for. I have always wanted to be a part of films that promote change and start conversations on social issues that are not often spoken about and those that tap into the psychology of human behaviour and make the audience think. Shuga tackles all issues in all communities and ensures that everybody has a character that they can relate to. Those are the kind of films that I want to create and be a part of.

MTV SHUGA: How was the audition process for you?

The audition process was extremely long, but worth the wait. It was well coordinated, straight to the point and hassle free. Even though I waited from 9am till 7pm, I really did enjoy it. I had submitted an online video on Instagram but was pretty insecure and thought that my audition video would not be seen as there were so many videos submitted. I decided to go to the Baseline auditions … just in case… and waited in line as long as the river Nile with almost 1400 others actor and actresses. I was number 706 (which coincidentally was the number of the place I was residing at the time. It was my first sign of luck). My audition went well but over the years of auditioning I have learned to never get my hopes too high because South Africa has a large number of talented people. I was then called back a few times but still contained my hopes because during my call backs I saw a few other younger and beautiful ladies auditioning for Khensani. A few weeks later I found out that I got the part.

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MTV SHUGA: Can you tell us about the process involved, in going all the way from the public auditions to the MTV Shuga set?

Everything happened so fast. The one moment I was at the auditions the next I got the part, was given scripts, did readings then got onto set and started working. In between that I had to learn about the industry, learn about production processes and most of all I had to learn how to represent myself as a new artist. I have had a lot of help and guidance from the cast and crew who have also helped me adjust to this new environment. It was tricky, but I eventually got the hang of it.

MTV SHUGA: What did it feel like when you found out you’ll be starring in a leading role?

When I found out that I got a lead role I was laughing with complete disbelief. I honestly thought it was a joke. I still cannot believe it right now. During the call backs I thought Khensani was a support character because the production was only giving support roles to those who were at the open auditions. I was honestly clueless, hence why I laughed so hard. I also felt so blessed beyond belief, such a dream come true.

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MTV SHUGA: Can you tell us a bit about your character?

Khensani is a 15 year old girl from Sowetho. She, like most teenagers, wants to be loved and wants to give love. She finds herself in a complicated relationship and does not realise that relationships are not always perfect. Her relationship leads her into a number of sexually related issues that young teenagers go through, and with those issues she is faced with tough decision making which may influence her future.

MTV SHUGA: What are some of the challenges she faces throughout the show?

The challenges that Khensani faces concern emotional abuse and discrimination. Challenges regarding patriarchy also plays a huge role in her life as well as and a number of sexually related issues which include the dynamics of relationships regarding age. She is the adolescent girl who exposes the stigmas related to these issues.

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MTV SHUGA: Why is it important to highlight these difficulties?

It is important to highlight these difficulties because they are real and are often not spoken about. They are issues that can be solved step-by-step, provided that one has the knowledge on how to get help. ‘Khensani’s’ experiences help educate those in the same situation as her. These difficulties are also challenges that every political leader wants to bring across to all communities, and MTV Shuga acts as a catalyst which helps the government, through entertaining means, carry and spread messages on a lot of human behaviour.

MTV SHUGA: What inspired you to become an actress?

I had been doing school plays from first grade through to high school. I chose drama as a subject in high school and realised that those classes made my high school life a blast. My love for performing and watching great performers like Maggie Benedict, Vatiswa Ndara, Vusi Kunene, Jamie Bartlett, and so many more actors and actresses inspired me to become a part of the art.

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MTV SHUGA: Do you believe that actors have a responsibility to use their fame in order to tackle important issues in society?

BY ALL MEANS THEY SHOULD! Their fame should be used for the great and good. Public faces could have thousands or millions of followers on social networks. They are able to communicate with masses of people therefore have the ability to influence a lot of people on human behaviour. By using their fame they have the ability to communicate these issues and lead by example.

MTV SHUGA: What advice would you give to any aspiring actresses out there on how to make it into the industry?

My advice would be to never give up on your passion and dreams. You may have heard this a thousand times but it truly works. Always know that opportunities are available, it is just up to you to go out and get them. Hard work and prayer always pays off. There is no better feeling than doing what you love.

To keep up with all the latest news on MTV Shuga, check out our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, and keep your eyes peeled for part two of Samke’s interview. Don’t forget to check out the brand new season of MTV Shuga: Down South on MTV Base on the 8th March