TV villain Dawn Thandeka King finds her job as a performer cathartic. The Uzalo and Lockdown actress tells Time Out that her most iconic roles on the small screen have been fuelled by her long-time battle with depression.
Looking Parisian chic in a pyjama-inspired floral ensemble, King oozes so much selfconfidence and sex appeal when she makes her fashionably late arrival at the Lockdown finale party.
Cameras start flashing and the room full of her industry peers almost comes to a standstill when she enters.
“Dawn Thandeka King is here,” one party-goer mutters.
When I turn around I’m greeted by her eye-popping cleavage and natural beauty.
I later find out that she has got the birthday glow, as she happens to be turning 41 on the day.
“I was going through a lot of things in my personal space when I joined Lockdown, things that I don’t want to speak about. Maybe one day I will be ready,” she tells me.
“My personal space was not good, so by escaping into such a role I was broken even further. But by delving that deep for the role, that eventually led to my healing.”
For three seasons of the Mzansi Magic prison drama, she kept viewers on the edge of their seats as hoodlum Mazet. The character left viewers shattered when she was gunned down during a thrilling episode this season.
“I struggle a lot with depression but the more I understand it, the more I try to find myself within my performances. I confront certain things and that leads to my healing,” she shares.
“I think that’s why in Season 3 I can say I am healing because you are never completely healed. I am a lot stronger. I will like for people to realise that depression is real and depression is not sadness, it’s a chemical imbalance in the system. The minute we understand that it’s a medical condition, we are then able to speak about it and seek help. If you don’t speak you get swallowed into a darkness that you cannot get out of.”
King is a woman of many talents. She is also a singer, featuring on the newly released Lockdown soundtrack.
“Mandla N [Lockdown creator] discovered that I sing because I spoke about it, but didn’t focus my energy on it. So when we were shooting the series, I recorded a couple of songs,” she recalls.
“But now I’m focusing on music a lot. I sing the kind of music that is perhaps on the decline, like that Busi Mhlongo and Princess Magogo type. On 13 October, I have a performance at Club Macanudo Cigar Lounge [in Joburg]. It’s part of my birthday celebrations and me just doing something different.”
Her villainous role of MaNgcobo in Mzansi’s most-watched show, Uzalo, continues to dazzle SABC1 viewers. Last week, the show staged a historic double wedding for the characters MaNgcobo, MaMlambo (Gugu Gumede) and Nkunzi (Masoja Msiza).
“One of the people that directed the episode got a call that we are now a reference point. It becomes overwhelming to be part of something like that,” she gushes.
“It’s a very humbling experience to be given such a powerful storyline. I had to watch myself several times on that episode because I couldn’t recognise me.”
Dawn, a self proclaimed tomboy, is a wife and proud mother of five.
Since Uzalo films in Durban and her family is based in Joburg, she is balancing family and work life.
“You have to have a family that understands that this is what you have always wanted.”