The past two years have been a roller coaster ride for actress Sophie Ndaba, who has had to deal with rumours that she had died, a fight against diabetes and losing her businesses, which led to her falling into depression.
She felt like she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, and recalls those days as some of her darkest. But she had to remain strong and put on a brave face publicly because she did not want people to feel pity for her.
“It was the toughest two years of my life and, in the process, I lost myself. I would wake up in the morning and my whole body would be numb and aching. I had to witness people whom I thought were my friends mocking me behind my back, while others were trying to destroy my marriage. I’ve seen my own kids also going through depression; I’ve put them through a lot,” shares an emotional Ndaba during a telephonic interview with City Press.
But the 48-year-old has rebuilt herself and bounced back, and is once more gracing our TV screens, this time as the alluring Shanice Moore on the new SABC1 13-part drama series Family Secrets, which airs on Sundays at 7.30pm.
She is also working behind the camera as an associate producer.
“The SABC has been my home for more than 21 years and I am glad to be back at the place that shaped my acting career. It has always been my dream to work behind the scenes, and this happened at the right time,” says an excited Ndaba.
She says that what attracted her to Family Secrets is that it is an authentic South African story that needs to be told. Her role as an associate producer involves working with the producer and putting the show together, and also understanding the look and feel of the show.
“I am looking forward to growing with the show and taking it to greater heights,” she said.
Family Secrets revolves around the notorious, rich and powerful banker Caesar Mokwena, who owns a merchant bank but suffers a horrible twist of fate after he is involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident and absconds with the child of the couple he believes he killed on the eve of the grand opening of his bank.
He and his wife decide to raise the child as their own. However, 20 years later, he discovers that the boy’s mother survived the accident and is relentlessly seeking justice. Mokwena and his family are bound together by incredible wealth and a terrible secret that, if revealed, could destroy them.
The drama series stars A-list actors including Katlego Danke, Sonia Sedibe, Vusi Kunene, Menzi Ngubane and Mangaliso Ngema.
However, it seems that the drama has broken the fourth wall as angry tweeps have called for Ngema to be removed from the show owing to sexual harassment allegations against him.
Although the show’s first episode was viewed by more than 2.7 million people, it received backlash after some of the actors claimed that they were not paid for their services.
Family Secrets is produced by Pulane Shomang and Bongani Sibeko. Shomang, from content catalogue SA Woman In Television Arts, explained that Ngema was hired before the controversy and said that the series had not had any sexual harassment incidents reported against the actor Ngema.
She said Family Secrets was originally meant to be aired on a local video-on-demand platform that was later shut down due to unforeseen circumstances.
“At the time, we had already filmed this premium show’s few episodes and, because we believed we had a great product, we chose the SABC as our new home because the deal made sense to us.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey; it took us five years to do research, get it right and get to where we are today,” Ndaba says.
She adds that every actor was paid for services rendered on the show. However, she wouldn’t divulge more, saying the matter was with the lawyers.
“The Sibekos came to my house two years ago. They shared their concept with me and asked me to recommend a cast that would fit well with Family Secrets. I recommended 80% of the cast you see on the show. I told them they needed to cast actors who were experienced and talented,” Ndaba says, adding that issues will always exist between actors and executive producers, but they should be resolved amicably.
“This year, I am going to make tough decisions for the sake of my peace and sanity,” she resolutely says.
” It has always been my dream to work behind the scenes, and this happened at the right time.