From being the queen of kwaito as a member of Boom Shaka in the 90s, to presenting popular TV shows such as SABC 1 dance show Jika Majika, and making her name as an acclaimed actress in Yizo Yizo, Gaz’lam, Zone 14 and Gomora, Thembi Seete has proven that she can do it all.
This time, the SAFTA nominee is set to appear in the new season of Showmax’s hit drama series Adulting, playing the role of Portia, a middle-aged, rich housewife who is at her sexual peak. Adulting Season 2 premieres on Showmax on 4 December, with new episodes every Monday.
We caught up with the 46-year-old Thembi, who has been a force to be reckoned with in the South African entertainment industry for almost three decades, as she gears up for her new role in Adulting S2.
How would you describe the character that you’re playing in Adulting?
Portia is a housewife, who has a home and a family that she loves very much. But as we know, as women, being spoiled is not enough. You still want care, love and someone to come back home to you and say, ‘I missed you’. That’s the part that’s lacking in her life. Her husband gets into a whole lot of things, and does no good. This gets to a point where Portia feels like ‘I’m a woman and I also have needs.’ And this is when she decides, ‘I’m gonna take control of my life, my happiness and my needs.’ She goes out there to look for what’s missing in her life and she gets it. The best thing is, she’s paying for it and enjoying it at the same time.
What was most challenging about bringing this character to life?
My intimate scenes have never been this intimate. It really felt like it was my first time acting and that’s the beauty about acting. You can’t really say you’re comfortable with it because acting introduces you to different characters and different personalities. The things you get to do are always different.
So with this one, it came with a whole lot of things that really shook me a little bit and made me uncomfortable. But I also love being uncomfortable.
What did you think of Season 1 of Adulting?
I absolutely loved it. I just felt like it’s so current and speaks to what is happening in our country right now. This is what boys do and this is what they get up to after varsity. You look for a job, you get your first break, you make your first million and what do you do? You go buy a car, look for this woman, rent an apartment and go wild.
The stories resonated with me. It’s a very interesting story that speaks to a lot of young people.
How is Portia different from the roles you’ve played before?
I’ve never played the rich, spoiled and glamorous lady. It’s always been township based and I would like to believe that Portia also has a township background because I kind of brought in that element as well. That’s the only part where I felt like this character is bringing something new.
What made you say yes to this role?
First of all, I’ve always wanted to work with Tshedza Pictures. I think they are exceptional storytellers. Also, there comes a point in life when you get tired of playing it safe. You sort of want to stretch yourself a bit and kind of surprise yourself. I love the element of surprising myself and not being too comfortable in the things that I do. I know a lot of people will be like, ‘Thembi seems like she’s very strict with herself and she’s a good role model.’ But, why are we so scared to talk about sex? Why are we scared to talk about intimacy?
I think this stems from our parents because they were never comfortable enough to talk to us about intimacy. But it’s something that should be handled with respect. These are the elements I thought about – to say ‘you know what, sex is not a bad thing. It’s what created all of us.’
Do you think you share some similarities with your character?
She’s sexy! She’s the bomb! She’s the liker of things! I just love her guts. When she sets her mind to something, she goes for it, wholeheartedly.
After nearly three decades as an actress, how do you manage to maintain consistency with every role?
I open myself up to learning, asking a lot of questions and make use of acting coaches. I explore different elements of each character I portray. It’s very possible to bring Gladys [from Gomora] into Portia if I don’t do my homework or if I’m not intentional about my moves. So I have to consistently approach my work as a student all the time and remain open to learning.
Was there anything you had to do for the first time while shooting this season?
I did a lot for the first time! (laughs) This show! When I think about it, my heart just races and I love the feeling. I did a lot for the first time.
But I must say, I was lucky that they paired me with a very crazy person [Luthando BU Mthembu who portrays Vuyani], who’s easy-going and very good at making me comfortable. He made me so comfortable so I don’t think about myself too much. That’s the beauty about acting – it allows you to forget about yourself and to wear this character. I was able to put Thembi aside and be about Portia. But it’s also a blessing and a cherry on top when you have a co-actor that is as supportive and confident.
Why should people watch Adulting?
People should watch Adulting because they will see themselves reflected in a lot of characters and will hear themselves speak through the characters. You know when you relate to a story, it becomes more enjoyable. Also the fact that it’s not just about intimacy; it touches on real issues that we all go through. Aside from the fact that it’s got the most incredibly talented actors, it also boasts exceptional writing and production. Overall, the story comes together beautifully.
Join the conversation: #AdultingShowmax
Adulting S2 premieres on Showmax on 4 December 2023, with new episodes every Monday.
Interview by: Xabiso Ngqabe
Image credit : Lesole Snap