SAFTA nominee Nqobile Nunu Khumalo (Nqobile, The Herd) stars in the Showmax Original Red Ink, which premiered on 9 February 2024. The eight-part thriller is based on Angela Makholwa’s best-selling debut novel of the same name. She plays journalist turned publicist Lucy Khambule, who is approached by an imprisoned serial killer to tell his story. Lucy jumps at the opportunity to reclaim her dream of being an acclaimed author, but the more she descends into the mind of a killer, the more she uncovers a criminal conspiracy that puts her life at risk.

Had you read Red Ink before stepping into this role? 

I didn’t know about the book before I was asked to audition but I quickly found out in my research how popular and loved the book is, among Black women especially.

What was the most difficult part of portraying this role?

Lucy Khambule has many important relationships in her life. Engaging fully with each of them while maintaining emotional continuity required a lot of focus and required me to always be 100% in the moment with each character.

You are very intentional about the roles you take. What made you say “yes” to this project?

I love adventure, risk and the opportunity to learn something new about myself and the world I live in – things I knew I would be able to do with this character. Lucy Khambule’s journey is one I have great gratitude for being a part of.

This role comes with a lot of emotional strain. Are there any moments from set that were emotionally challenging and how did you work around them?

Lucy Khambule’s “relationship” with Napoleon was the most difficult to engage in. It required a lot of research and self-exploration to find the place where I could believably create a “Lucy” that would pursue the offer made by Napoleon the way she did.

What message do you hope people will take away from her character?

I believe Lucy’s best characteristic is courage. She is the bravest young woman I’ve ever played, and I love how she always acknowledges things for what they are in this moment of her life. She just has this, “Screw it, let’s do it” thing about her that I dig but that also scares me, to be honest.

You’ve played emotionally taxing roles, like Hlengiwe in Scandal; Nqobile in Nqobile; and now Lucy in Red Ink. What lessons did you draw from each character? Did you have to borrow traits from previous roles?

Lucy would have been the big sister in the other roles I played. She is much further along in development. If they existed in the same world, Lucy would have been an inspiration to those characters. They are in very different places in their lives; the stakes are much higher for Lucy.

Throughout the season, we’re going to see your character navigate dangerous territories in her life where she’s less in control. As an actress, how do you shed off the abuse that the character goes through when you are off set?

I’ve tackled storylines that involve themes of GBV and femicide before, and I think similarly in previous cases, I don’t shed anything off. It’s more of a case of incorporating all my life’s realities into the picture and finding a way to accept the multiple truths that exist for me. As a survivor of GBV, I accept that telling these stories is a part of my ministry and that it’s not something I have to erase after I engage in the material. It is a reality for many. The fact that I am a part of the performance doesn’t give me the privilege of pretending it’s not true. Art is imitating life here – life for many South Africans living in this country.

How important is it to tell our homegrown stories as South Africans?

It’s important for us to see ourselves reflected in the entertainment industry, films, series, and documentaries we watch and the books we read. The industry on a global level is very western-dominated but there is an abundance of local talent and storytellers that have a unique voice. South Africans love local content. It should encourage industry and government to invest more in local storytellers.

Red Ink is a partnership between Makholwa’s Britespark Films and Bomb Productions. This marks the first Showmax Original from Bomb, who made DStv’s most-watched drama ever, Shaka ILembe, as well as classics like Venice winner Yizo Yizo, Oscar nominee Mandela, Sundance winner Amandla: A Revolution In Four-Part Harmony and SAFTA winners like Isibaya.

By admin

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