Fans of popular Mzansi Magic telenovela, The Queen were horrified to find that their favourite actor, Zandile Msutwana who plays Vuyiswa Jola-Maake has been temporarily replaced by Thembisa Mdoda-Nxumalo. Even though Mzansi Magic released a statement, on 26 March 2021, giving reasons for the replacement of Msutwana by Mdoda-Nxumalo, viewers are largely unimpressed. Even at the time of explaining the unavoidable change in casting, fans expressed disappointment at the decision by Ferguson Films.
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Zandile Msutwana who has played Vuyiswa since season one, which first aired in 2016, was injured in a work related accident just as her story arc – a budding romance between Vuyiswa and her boss, Hector Sebata – had reached its climax. The producers of the show, perhaps, felt there was a need to press on with the subplot rather than shift focus to other characters in the show. One school of thought states that Ferguson Films could have continued with the Vuyiswa-Hector love story with the inclusion of an on the job injury for Lieutenant Jola-Maake whose police job comes with obvious hazards. Rather than forcing viewers to adjust to a completely different actress, Vuyiswa could have sat in a wheelchair and been given desk duty until Msutwana is fit enough for action scenes. After all, real life police officers suffer injury and continue with work on full time desk duty until they fully recover.
Vuyiswa not the first
Changing actors for a role mid-story isn’t something new. SABC’s Muvhango did this with Agnes and other characters. Classic Sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air seamlessly switched actresses for the Aunt Vivian role without much reaction from critics and The Queen pulled a surprise with the exchange of Silindile Nodangala with Brenda Mhlongo who now plays Zodwa, Shaka’s mom. Fans of The Queen seemed to shrug off the Zodwa switch but are literally rioting over Sis Vee, which speaks volumes about Vuyiswa Jola-Maake’s popularity.
Thembisa Mdoda rejected for Vuyiswa role
Ironically, Thembisa Mdoda-Nxumalo made her debut on The Queen during the episode titled “Rejection”. As Hector Sebata’s youngest daughter, Mpho (real name Ntando Duma) rejected Vuyiswa as future stepmom, offscreen, Facebook and Twitter went up in flames as fans called for the return of the the “real Vuyiswa.”
The social media outrage is understandable as Vuyiswa (affectionately known as Sis Vee) has walked the three million loyal viewers through a heartrending rape ordeal which culminated in her singlehandedly apprehending the rapist. Vuyiswa has also survived two kidnappings, one by ex boyfriend Zack Phiri (real name Phumi Mpama) and the other by criminal mastermind, Diamond Mabuza (real name Zolisa Xaluva). She fought off the more glamorous Joy (real name Miranda Ntshangase) as the two women wrestled for Jerry Maake’s heart. Another milestone for Vuyiswa was the famous King Shaka airport drug bust in which the Khoza and Mabuza cartel fell to pieces.
Thembisa Mdoda-Nxumalo, star of Unmarried, The Road and guest on Isibaya, is not a bad actress. But she has huge shoes to fill. Fans of The Queen were never going to approve, even if the new Vuyiswa was an actress imported from the moon.
Get well soon, Zandile, get back soon Sis Vee
My pen is capped
The Queen airs weekdays on Mzansi Magic at 9:00pm.
Follow the author on Twitter @RewindMzansi