Interviewed and Written by Dumisani Dube
Wiseman Zitha was born in Limpopo in a small village in Giyani. And then when he finished his primary school, his family relocated to Thohoyandou since his mom had married his stepdad. Wiseman says he comes from a typical village background which he emphasises as a poor background. “There is really nothing much happening other than you know, growing up in the villages from my kind of background, you don’t really see anything wrong because that’s the only background you know, obviously you can see other kids living better. But I was very content with whatever that we had then.” Says Wiseman. Wiseman describes his as a loving family, because his mom and stepdad loved him so much. “I’m a village boy, basically.” A village boy who is an award-winning hunk and pleasing to the eye. I could sit here, listen and watch to him talk forever.
I’m an actor, model and digital creator, content creator. Growing up, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I did maths and science in high school. And then when I got to grade 11, I somehow was reading Nothing but the truth, a novel by John Khani. That’s where my love for storytelling started. I would imagine that the entire story as I read the novel.
After matric, I got to Gauteng and then audition at the drama school at TUT, I studied drama there. That’s where everything started. My second year I got scouted by my modelling agent, that’s then I started modelling. My first acting audition was for GIYANI LAND OF BLOOD and I got it, I also got into Muvhango, The River and Rockville.
I think it’s just to do well and me being, you know, afraid of failing. I am one person who feels like I need to make it, I did not come this far for nothing and also the fact that at home they’re looking up to me, and there are so many younger kids out there from the villages, many people who are looking up to me, I’m one person was scared to disappoint people. And I just feel the need to do well. Because growing up I didn’t really have a lot of inspiration, I only looked up to three or four actors that were Tsonga speaking. Me being in this platform, I feel like I’m representing a lot of people, young dreamers who would look at me and say, if Wiseman is able to do it, then it’s possible. That’s what really drives me every day to do what I do and do it well.
Honestly, I wouldn’t really say a specific somebody but I look at a lot of young creatives in my industry, people that are doing amazing. And that inspires and motivates me, to even be better. Maybe I would say people that are from home, the likes of Makhadzi and Sho Majozi inspire me. I wouldn’t call them my role models as such, but the fact that they’re doing something big in this industry and they’re from home. To me that’s beautiful, and it’s amazing. In short, I don’t really have a specific role model but just seeing young people doing amazing work pushes me a lot.
BEING QUEER IN THE INDUSTRY
More than anything this is our industry. There is a lot of us in this industry. There is space, we’re getting there. Unlike in America where being queer you’re celebrated and you’re amazing, in South Africa as an actor, you need to somehow balance it out, you need to be able to jump into different roles. We don’t really have enough gay or lesbian stories on television. Yes, we might have once in a while, but not really a good storyline where it tells our story.
Another problem that I have is that you get boxed a lot. People will look at you and think you can only do this much and not that much because you are queer. What they don’t know is that we we’ve got this, all we need is a platform to tell our story and show what we got. In America you can still push the industry and play other roles. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been pushing to also play some straight roles to show that yes, I might be queer but I am capable of portraying other roles
ON BEING A ROLE MODEL
I am a role model yes, at least I think so. There are so many kids from Limpopo that look up to me. I mean, I grew up watching Tsotsoma, Obed Baloyi, Fumani Tshilune and these are old actors, but we still don’t have a lot of young XiTsonga actors. Me being in the industry I feel like I have changed the narrative as well. People start to look at Tsonga people and understand that they’re beautiful people.
I get a lot of messages every day, my DM and that to me is something big because I’m somehow changing the game.
HOW TO AVOID SCANDLES IN THE PUBLIC EYE
You need to understand the industry first, and that’s very important. When you understand the kind of industry you’re in, then you will be very careful with certain things. There’s really nothing wrong with putting your stuff out there. But you should be very careful of what you put out, because that can come back to bite you. So, just understand your circle as well. I always say keep the friends that you had before you were in the public space, they are enough. People in the public space are very dangerous, because you never really know if they want to hang out with you because they are your friend or they want something out of you or they feel like you’re relevant at this moment in time. It’s also important to be very careful of what you say when you’re out there. Good as it might be to network, be careful.
Laughs. No comment but I would say I’m seeing someone.
THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
It’s happy days, that one moment when you get to spend time with your loved ones, that is your family, or your partner or whomever you consider family. But to me, I mostly like to spend it with my family because I hardly go home because of work I go back home and spend with my mom, my dad, my siblings. I have a lot of siblings, so it’s always nice to be around them. The exciting part is they cook a lot of food and so much yummy stuff. My mother is very good at that, she cooks all our traditional foods.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
A plane ticket to Nigeria. I’ve been wanting to go to Nigeria for a very long time.
WHO ARE YOU SPENDING CHRISTMAS WITH
I am definitely going home to be with my family and my friends that I grew up with.
YOUR MESSAGE TO QUEER FOLKS WHO HAVE BEEN DISOWNED BY FAMILIES BECAUSE OF THEIR SEXUALITY AND WILL BE SPENDING THE HOLIDAYS ALONE
This is a very sensitive issue and it’s so painful for other people that are going through it and honestly, it’s just very sad. It’s very sad. What I would say is HOLD ON, you know, you’re loved. The entire community loves you. Take it one day at a time. I understand. I cannot imagine how it might feel because I don’t want to lie and say I know how it feels. I just know that it’s really painful because it’s not nice to feel like you’re alone in this world because you are different. We are in, we’re praying for you and we love you and we appreciate you for who you are. You are not alone.