Despite Covid-19 making this year a challenging one for the entertainment industry, veteran actor Meshack Mavuso isn’t doing too badly.
Aside from making his small screen comeback in Mzansi Magic’s award-winning telenovela, “The River”, he’s been cast as a lead on e.tv’s new medical drama, “Durban Gen”.
Reflecting on his time with the telenovela, he shared: “It was amazing – I don’t believe in what people say are short roles, only small actors, because nothing is a small role.
“Great actors can take any size role and make it big.
“The character I played left an impact.
“Additionally, I believe in using the talent that I have as a vehicle to address social issues.
“I have a friend who suffered from kidney failure just like Ntsizwa, and sometimes that’s not what kills you.
“The medical system does because it can let you down. A transplant is not an easy thing to get unless you have medical aid.
“I enjoyed educating and giving hope to those that are sick, so that they can fight until the end.”
On landing the role of Dr Thabo Dlamini, Mavuso shared: “I’ve worked with Gugu Zuma-Ncube (Stained Glass TV) before when she was still an actor and she had always wanted to work with me again.
“When I got the call to join ‘Durban Gen’, it was no shock to me – she likes my work and what I’ve done.
“When you do well, people will always recommend you.
“Ultimately, it’s about professionalism and discipline. I absolutely respect the craft of acting and the industry as a whole.”
Of course, with frontline workers celebrated as the new heroes around the world, a show like this is bound to be well-received. The timing is perfect, too.
Although Mavuso planted his feet firmly when he bagged the role of Javas in the critically-acclaimed series, “Yizo Yizo”, at the outset of his career, he has explored wonderfully complex characters in “Zero Tolerance”, “Isidingo”, “Rhythm City”, “Isithembiso”, “Isibaya” and “Heist”.
“Durban Gen” is set in Newlands East, a township in Durban. The hospital enjoys great prominence as the place to go to for great healthcare as well as the place to practice at for medical professionals.
Mbali Mthethwa (Nelisiwe Sibiya), who is from a small town, becomes a big deal as a new doctor on staff. Although she is engaged, she finds herself drawn to her superior.
That’s one of many story arcs on the show, where emergencies are juxtaposed with lawsuits and other challenges.
The show is shot in KwaZulu-Natal, which means lots of time away from his wife, kids and friends, who are in Jozi.
He added: “Durban is a different atmosphere though, People are friendlier, so it’s been easier to adapt. The ‘Durban Gen’ cast and crew are fresh. Everyone is young. They bring about new mindsets and ideas. That keeps me going.
“I am probably the most seasoned actor on set. Everyone else is relatively new. Some of the faces are familiar but have not yet gotten their big breaks.”
Mavuso added: “Because the cast is young, it reminds me of my “Yizo Yizo” days.
“We were young and lucky enough to have the guidance of actors such as Patrick Shai, who guided us through the acting journey.
“I am now paying it forward. I consider it my responsibility to now guide the young actors.”
On slipping into the skin of a medical practitioner, he laughed: “To be honest, playing a doctor is hard… you can easily finish a sentence without having understood any of the medical jargon.
“With practice and over time, I am getting better at pronouncing the words.”
Expanding on what makes his character tick, the actor added: “Besides the fact that he is a womanizer, Thabo likes what he does. He’s very ambitious, he wants to grow and enjoys power. He’ll do what it takes to get it.”
While viewers have been exposed to an international slate of popular medical dramas à la “Grey’s Anatomy”, “The Resident”, “The Good Doctor”, “New Amsterdam” and “Chicago Med” to name a few, there are not many local offerings in this genre.
Mavuso commented: “We’ve had shows that have a core emergency room focus. On ‘Durban Gen’, we take the journey of life behind the medical profession.
“There is love, cheating, jealousy, heartbreak, the works.
“Some of the doctors’ laundry is very dirty – so there will be a lot of drama to look forward to.”
“Durban Gen” airs on e.tv on Monday, October 5, at 6.30pm.
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