Actress and singer Letoya Makhene asked to be released from Generations: The Legacy a year ago to focus on her spirituality and motherhood, and to pursue her singing career.
But the 35-year-old, who plays the role of the strong-willed Tshidi Phakade, makes a return to South Africa’s second most watched show – and her character is back with a devious plan to finally gain the power she has always longed for.
Tshidi makes her comeback to reclaim her life after months of hiding. Last year, viewers’ emotions flared when she faked her death to protect her unborn baby from its evil father, Jack Mabaso. Said Makhene: “I am so excited to be back. I like how the producers have developed my character on the show.”
Talking about her character, she shared that viewers had to expect the unexpected. “Tshidi is back with her old tricks. But this time around she is full of surprises!”
Although she started shooting recently, she said it felt like she had never left the show. “No one gave me a moment to breathe. From the first day I was on set, I just hit the ground running.”
Shooting during lockdown was challenging, because the actors had to constantly remind themselves to adhere to the regulations such as social distancing, and no touching and kissing, while on set.
Her return to the show was done on her own terms, she explained, but did not want to divulge more. “It was just one or two terms,” she said. “Now I am at peace. I am in love with myself.”
She said she had no regrets about taking time off because “it was rewarding”, and went on to explain: “I was experiencing fatigue. My body couldn’t take it any more, it was screaming for help. Most importantly, I wanted to spend time with my four children and to focus more on my music career. After all, singing is my first love.”
Balancing motherhood and a career was overwhelming for her. “I had to make the decision to put my career on hold and focus on raising my kids.”
Sometimes it “was not about money”, she said, and explained that she had learnt to prioritise her health and sanity. “My sanity is my spirituality.”
The daughter of legendary musician Blondie Makhene said that spending more time with her children had been therapeutic. She became a hands-on mother who made sure she did not miss her children’s soccer matches and activities.
“It was the most beautiful thing, because I was in control of my schedule.”
She had learnt “so much” by being away from television, she said. “You must always listen to that inner voice inside of you – it won’t let you down. It has allowed me to reflect and let go of the past and the things that were unhealthy for me.” This was despite the fact that “some of the changes” felt “uncomfortable” initially, she confessed.