South African popular soapie Uzalo’s actress Dawn Thandeka King, who plays MaNgcobo is a worried person, she is mourning the fall of her own marriage.
Despite playing love and romantic roles, in real life she misses exactly what she presents on screen; “I am mourning the death of my marriage,” Dawn told DRUM.
As fate may have it, after shooting the a stunning and happy wedding series, in real life, her relationship with her businessman husband was pronounced officially over.
“The pain is still there. It feels like I’m widowed we were married for 15 years. But I don’t regret my decision.
“I know it was the right thing to do. I met my husband in 1998 at tertiary and we got married in 2004. But I’ve been separated from him for two years.
“Things finally ended mid-June and Dawn is still trying to come to terms with it all. It’s a painful and traumatic journey for me and the children but I had to do it for my sanity,” she said.
Dawn has been trying to present some strength of character for the sake of her children. She did not want to bring them up in a family set up that is characterised by unhappiness, and her marriage had resembled that unpleasing environment.
It was in 2016 when Dawn first noted the signs that her marriage was on the verge of collapsing.
“When I think about it now I can see the signs were there but I overlooked them. But suddenly there was a lack of communication or miscommunication between us. I felt avoided whenever I was home.
“This triggered my depression and I was subsequently hospitalised,” she said.
Apparently, that was the same period her acting career was beginning to shine. The KwaZulu-Natal based soapie Uzalo’s viewership was beginning to grow.
Dawn had to travel regularly between KZN and Johannesburg where her husband and their five kids, were living. She admits that this long-distance relationship to some extent played a role in the fall of their marriage.
“I wouldn’t speak for my ex-husband but I strongly feel that the long distance coupled with the demands of my career contributed to our failed marriage. It created a void,” she said; at the same time not regretting taking her job as an actress seriously.
“For me acting is not just a career, it’s a calling.
“I never chose the arts – it chose me. I cannot run away from it,” she added.
Dawn did not got into her acting job blindly, she was even aware of the troubles that would arise, but to some extent they both overlooked the warning signs.
“To avoid such problems, we agreed that I’d come home twice a month, which I did. “I guess we both didn’t see it coming,” she added.
She had also ruled out the saying that her marriage fell because of infidelity as suggested by others. The news in 2018 were that she had an affair with one of her Uzalo costars which had affected her marriage. But, back then, she maintained that her marriage was not on the rock.
“First of all, I am not getting divorced. My marriage is still intact and I see my children and their father frequently. I am not sure where these allegations are coming from.
“Secondly, I never dated Bongani [Dlamini] – he’s my colleague and friend. I don’t understand why people assume a man and woman cannot be friends. Gossip like this can break a person and their career,” she said at that time.
Her marriage did not just go down without her fighting to save it.
“I tried to save my marriage. I prayed, I fasted, I went to marriage counsellors, but it got to a point where I felt it wasn’t worth it,” Dawn went on.
She admitted that had the family been together, things would have turned out differently. “I do think that if we all moved to KwaZulu-Natal things would have worked out better for us. Long-distance relationships barely survive.
“I loved my ex-husband, perhaps I still do. We shared a lot of things together, we grew up together, we raised children together, but it wasn’t meant to be. We had to go our separate ways.
“I had to end it to save my dignity. I am talking about it because I’ve finally made peace with it. Emotionally and psychologically I feel a lot better and stronger. I’m moving on with my life,” Dawn said.
The former husband and wife are working heart out for the sake of their children, through co-parenting and promoting good children-parent relationship.
“I’m not going to break their relationship with their father. Instead I encourage them to have a strong healthy relationship. I make sure I won’t badmouth their father because that would damage them,” Dawn said.
Though not in a hurry to marry again, Dawn is still hopeful that one day she will meet someone who’ll wipe the tears off her cheek just like Khathaza [played by Sibonile Ngubane] does to her character MaNgcobo in Uzalo.
Once she has fully recovered, Dawn would love to help other women using her own experiences, by embarking on counselling.
“I will be hosting seminars where I shall be discussing the same or similar issues,” she said.
She’ll also touch on the fact the breakdown of a marriage can have severe mental and emotional effects.
Dawn reflected on the mental and emotional effects of marriage breakdown she went through depression while trying to save her relationship.
“I realised I was losing myself. In the process I realised I was hurting myself more than I was trying to save my marriage. I eventually decided to walk away,” she added.
She referred to her depression some time ago, but could not put it open for fear of being stigmatized. She added that it is worrying that some people stigmatise mental illness, which in black communities is classified as insanity.
Dawn got to know that her depressed mental was witnessed when she was eight years old. She went close to killing herself in 3 years ago, when her condition was at its peak.
“The emotional and psychological pain had engulfed me so much that I started cutting myself. I became a loner and that’s when I became suicidal. At that point nothing mattered – I just wanted to be free,” she narrated.
However, after opening it up, she got emotional support, and she is currently on medication, and since accepted her condition and is grateful he is now managing.