Up close and personal with Azwidohwi Malaka
THE woman I meet today is quite a piece of work.
As Phuluwani in Muvhango she can be a feisty, jealous, stubborn diva, yet also needy and submissive - to ensure she keeps her hubby.
I expect the actress to live up to her on-screen character - a royal princess and the third wife of Chief Azwindinishe.
But when I meet up with Azwidohwi Malaka (34) at her home in the south of Jozi I'm met by a free-spirited tomboy.
"I'm a no make-up person. I wear it only when I attend functions - if it's a must," says Malaka whose first name means "don't do it again".
She's wearing a woollen hat with dreads flowing out on the sides, beads around her neck, thong-like sandals, tracksuit pants and a yellow hood sweater.
Am I in the right place? It doesn't look like her at all. Could it be her sister?
She's laid-back, and chews and pops gum, sitting with her foot on the chair. She can hardly keep still.
Malaka is bubbly. She reckons everything about her is different from the character she plays.
"Phuluwani is stubborn; she loves things to go her way. Well, I'm everything sweet. I value humility, I choose my words carefully. As a Venda I take that seriously. I'm not impulsive like Phuluwani.
"I love playing her. I've never been a princess. It's quite fun 'cos she's everything I'm not. I try to build my character with nothing resembling me. It makes it easier.
"I don't have a child and I've never been married. I can't even picture it. Instead I actually write poems about relationships and question why they exist.
"Why must we follow what our elders did?
"I ask myself why people get into relationships. The closest I've gotten to marriage is imagining being Michael Jackson's wife - he's the only guy I've found sexy," she says and bursts out laughing.
But when I try to probe further...
"I actually find it dangerous to say I'm like this or that," she says, masticating away on her gum.
"I think the people around me can explain me better than I can 'cos what I am today can be something else in a week's time.
"But I don't allow my career to change the person I am.
"It has no influence on the real me," she says giggling.
When asked when she made her first appearance on TV: "I really can't remember (she laughs). I have to check through my magazines. I really don't keep track."
She finds a mag from 2006.
"Yeh! It was in 2006 that I started doing a paying job. I was working for Muvhango and also working as a presenter for another channel.
"Phuluwani came to life because she's a character that a women in polygamous relationships can relate to.
"Some women are used to being betrayed. They tend to be needy and have to toughen up in hard situations.
"This part has the power to reach someone in a similar situation and teach them how to overcome it."
Malaka is quite dramatic off-stage. She's all sarcasm and irony.
I can't figure if she's serious.
Is she lesbian?
She doesn't deny nor confirm: "People always fabricate things unnecessarily. I am anti-rumours.
"I separate my life from my career. I'll never disclose my relationships to the public.
"Who I'm dating has nothing to do with anyone," she says, suddenly all serious.
She says if she wasn't an actress she'd still be involved in the arts.
"I'm in love with the arts. I actually thought I was going to be a musician.
"I can't see myself doing anything else. I don't only act. I also write essays, I'm a poet, I dance and love music. I am in the arts to stay."
But she is artwork on her own - a girl who keeps it real and can morph into anything her heart desires.