Female-dominated cast steps up as JIVA! hits SA

Season 1 of the dance drama premiered on Thursday and Eyewitness News lifestyle had an opportunity to speak to lead actor Noxolo Dlamini, who plays Ntombi, and Candice Modiselle, who takes on the slay queen character of Vuyiswa and Ntombi’s long-time friend.

The cast of JIVA! Picture: Netflix/Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG – The energy-packed drama series JIVA! has finally landed on Netflix and it is taking South Africa’s dance culture to whole new level with a cast that is undoubtedly about female power.

Season 1 of the dance drama premiered on Thursday and Eyewitness News lifestyle had the opportunity to speak to lead actor Noxolo Dlamini, who plays Ntombi, and Candice Modiselle, who takes on the slay queen character of Vuyiswa and Ntombi’s long-time friend.

Preparation for such high-intensity roles and learning the choreography – which was brought to life by Tom London and Bontle Modiselle – is something Dlamini said she was ready for.

“It was not easy, but we really brought our A-game and I think everyone did their best to deliver the standard of work that is international, because it is a global platform, and we want to bring more than what we think we have. I was ready for this character. Physically, I trained almost every single day.”

WATCH: 'JIVA!' takes SA’s dance culture to the world

For such a female-dominated cast, the struggles of black women are laid bare as they navigate different paths. Ntombi is juggling a day job she hates, being the breadwinner, friendships and their ups and downs, and her love for being on stage.

“We know that we’re not trying to portray an angry black woman, we just understand the struggle of being a black woman. I think all the ladies are just saying ‘see me for what I am and not for a stereotype that you’ve created of me’. And just putting love into one another as fellow black women and carrying one another.”

While Vuyiswa, on the other hand is juggling an older controlling man who supports her financially, and her burning desire to share the stage with Ntombi as they dance their way to the top. Will she choose the man with the money or step up all the way to the global stage?

“It’s just that there’s a lifestyle choice that she’s made that some people may not necessarily make for themselves and may cast a veil of judgement over that. So, being human is so important and making yourself vulnerable in being that person is something that I respect about her so much. She’s multifaceted, she is layered but I celebrate that woman that exists in her because there are so many women in the world that can see themselves reflected in her,” Modiselle said about her character, Vuyiswa.

She hopes this series will inspire women to be bold, to shine in their light and own it. Modiselle said _JIVA! _could be a great foundation for the local entertainment industry to build on and show the world what South Africa had to offer.

“We often package our stories in a way we think the world wants to see what and who we are. But it’s to own the fullness of who we are and to be unapologetic about it. We’re not pandering to perspectives of what African stories are.”

And her co-star Dlamini agrees, saying female artists had always been ready to take over the stage and be movers and shakers.

“It’s really going to force artists and creators to up their game. I’m excited to see the calibre of work that’s going to start coming out of our country from this. Now we’re going international and we want to represent ourselves well to the international audience. We want to show them that we are and could be on the same level.”

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