She traded her white collar corporate world ‘ties and suits’ for acting and she adopted the ‘forward ever backward never’ approach, as she hasn’t looked back since then, Scandal actress Lusanda Mbane told DRUM magazine why she’s humbled by her fame. Even her children are still learning to cope with her fame, whenever Lusanda sets foot into the public space, she is mobbed by fans who call out her character’s name. I could be in a mall with my kids and be stopped for a selfie with ‘Boniswa’,” Lusanda said. Here, she was referring to her devious Scandal character, who has been hiding a big family secret: Chumani, the son she shared with her deceased husband, was in fact not Siseko’s child.
This sizzling plot or storyline, has rendered Lusanda a trending topic on social media, and fans are always amused by Boniswa’s unpredictable but sinister antics. My husband knows the drill now. When it starts, he will signal and go wait for me in the car,” she said; “My kids are taking it as it comes. I don’t involve them in pictures. Shame, I just ask them to stand on the side until I finish posing. I think they’re used to it now.”
For some, it may look like the bubbly actress’ rise to stardom was as easy as getting a meal on a silver platter, but she had to work hard for it, and it wasn’t an overnight sensation. At some point, she experienced doors being slammed in her face, however, she pushed on and didn’t let it deter her. “I’m a strong believer that every ‘no’ takes me a step closer to ‘yes’,” Lusanda told the magazine.
“There were frustrating times. Some auditions would be promising, and I’d think I’d get it, but the ‘no’ would come. I have learnt the worst thing you can do is quit before you get your ‘yes’,” she said. She believes that delays are part of the journey and not the destination. “I waited a while but delay is not denial. I believe that now more than ever,” she said.
Lusanda (40) had worked in the corporate world for over 10 years, following her graduation from Unisa with a BCom degree in marketing. She also has a qualification in entrepreneurship from the University of Pretoria’s GIBS business school, she once had a stint in recruitment and banking before opening her own recruitment agency.
Despite doing quite well in those areas, she always toyed with dreams of being a star, being in boardrooms making deals and decisions but thinking about acting.
“Working my way up to an executive is what I studied for. The sense of achievement was very fulfilling, but acting is who I am,” she said.
Though not pageant queen with crown on the head doing the catwalk, like her mother, Lulama Sangoni had always insisted she be, Lusanda always knew she belonged on a stage. The entertainer in me has always been there. I got myself an agent and in between work and life, I’d go to auditions,” Lusanda recalled. After a series of minor roles she got her break-through for bigger roles, starring in Generations in 2010. She then joined the e.tv cast of Scandal! in 2016 as the first wife of Siseko (Hlomla Dandala).
“Although at the time my character wasn’t as prominent as it is now, this was the ‘yes’ I’d been longing for. I started this really late – it’s humbling that I’m here,” she said. Apparently, her late entry seem to be a blessing in disguise. While some celebrities who break into showbiz usually see themselves having to conform to the pressures of the industry by partying and keeping up with trends. Lusanda is none of that as she believes she got her break at just the right time. When it happened, I was mature and grounded enough to receive it.
“I’ve learnt a bit more about the saying, ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” she said. Though she has always wished to be on TV, she wasn’t going to let the narrative be anything that didn’t resonate with what she stood for. Recently she revealed on social media that she’d had a short stint in a reality TV show.
“I bet you guys don’t know I was on the first season of #DivasOfJozi in 2015, shot one episode,” she posted on Instagram. However, the idea of cameras focusing on her personal life was something else for her, and therefore not in sync with her wishes. She is still trying to cope with all the attention she is getting, particularly from fans back in her home area, in the Eastern Cape. They don’t want to just take selfies – they want to catch up like they know me,” she said with a smile.
Lusanda believes in the notion ‘peace at home gives birth’ to peace in the country therefore she is using her platform to highlight women’s issues from gender based violence to body positivity through a foundation known as Zazi Zithande Zithembe (Know yourself, love yourself, trust yourself). After a long day at work usually hectic, she wakes up at 4.30am to ‘get to work before 7am and get home at 7.30pm’ she finds joy peeling off her character. At home she’s “just Lusanda”, a fitness lover who’s a devoted mom to Lihlome (11) and Liqhawe (12) and loving wife to husband Luzuko.
Lusanda and Luzuko have been married for 14 years. “It was love at first sight, sort of,” she joked. When Luzuko finished varsity, he moved to Johannesburg for his first job, living with one of her relatives. “We met and then after a month, he called me. He is very shy; it took a while,” she said. Luzuko, a business analyst by profession, is the opposite of Lusanda but she’s always been able to count on his support. “He took me to my first audition and many after that,” she said.
Away from the madding crowd she’s just a loving mom like any other. When she’s not at the gym trying to keep herself fit, she loves spending lazy Sunday mornings enjoying family feasts. “We built a life way before all this happened and that gives us a good balance. No matter how busy it gets for everyone, those in our lives know Sundays are off limits. It’s church and then family time,” Lusanda said. Her normal day usually ends around 9pm when she tucks the kids into bed but she’s hoping to slot in more quality time over the festive break. “I have nothing planned, just time with family – and more days as Lusanda,” she said.