This week’s Actor of the Week goes to the talented, Wonder Ndlovu for his role as young Azania Maqoma on Netflix Justice Served. Wonder is also known for his lead role on Ingane Ka Baba on Mzansi Magic.
Justice Served is a six part series that follows a group of freedom fighters with a secret agenda to hijack a courthouse and let the public decide if the murderer accused should be executed.
Hlomla Dandala plays freedom fighter and military veteran, Azania Maqoma. He styles himself as an arbiter of justice while he drives secret agenda to settle past scores with old foes. We learn more about these old foes when Wonder taps into young Azania.
This week, we highlight Wonder’s scene with Bab’Maqoma, his father, played by Sello Ramolahloane in Episode 1.
Young Azania has just lost the love of his life Thandi, played by Mpule Matlhola, in a brutal shooting when soldiers invaded his school. He is then beaten up along with the other arrested followers and thrown into an isolated prison ward. We open in on the scene as minimal light enters into the room. It’s the prison door opening. We see a white officer followed by Bab’Maqoma who draws near to the prison bars.
Young Azania stands to his feet, and we see the scars on his back from the prison beating. He is in pain. He becomes emotional as his dad greets him. Bab’Maqoma urges him to tell the officers who his leaders are, insisting that the system won’t change. We see the tears dry up on young Azania’s face. He will not be a sell-out. This is a very crucial transition that goes on to inform the anger and hate he carries for the system and his choices thereof.
He refuses and tells his dad that he hates the system and he hates him too. He starts taking steps back, moving back into the darkness as his dad urges him to bring the truth to light. The audience is pulled in as he goes back into the prison cell and gets on his knees. The prison door closes and young Azania leaning his head onto the wall, gently punches the prison wall, he punches again and even harder this time. He would rather suffer this pain than betray his leaders…and this pain is tangible for the audience.
This critical moment between a father and his son is really held together by the two performers as a moment of revelation. The creative choice to have him come into the light at a specific moment and out of the light at a specific moment in this interaction is really profound and Wonder just gets it. The emotional transition is really authentic to who Azania becomes. He carries young Azania with a great sense of authenticity throughout his appearance in the series.
Wonder brings this character to life and takes us on a truthful journey. His ability to tap gracefully into the emotions of this character as a young man living in an era that informed his perspective of the world is beyond brilliant. This also translates really well in juxtaposition to the Azania that we see in the Courtroom- it informs a lot of his anger and his relentless fight for justice.
Wonder’s choices as an actor are truly worthy to be celebrated. We applaud you for your outstanding work, Wonder Ndlovu. Three cheers to you!!!