Get to Know Jacob’s Cross Star Xolile Tshabalala
We recently sat down to catch up with the increasingly busy Xolile Tshabalala. If you’ve been keeping up with Jacob’s Cross, you’ll know her as “Busi,” the devoted wife of Andile and sister-in-law to Jacob. This role is the polar opposite of her famously bad girl character, “Julia Motene,” on The Africa Channel’s long running soap opera, Generations.
Xolile has come a long way since the fiery crash that killed off the husband-wife duo of Julia and TV ex-husband Khaya Motene (Akin Omotoso). She also came a long way from her home in Johannesburg, South Africa, to visit her Africa Channel family at our headquarters in North Hollywood, California.
We had an opportunity to find out what inspires her to create the different characters she’s portrayed and catch up on her busy career.
So how does this actress approach her craft? For her role in Jacob’s Cross, Xolile says she found the emotional capacity to put herself in her character’s shoes. “Each character has a gift; a story to share,” Tshabalala emphasizes. She describes her craft as her ministry and has a passion for telling women’s stories and the stories of Africans who might otherwise go unheard.
“Our stories matter to the world. I want to tell stories about people who have made our history significant,” she affirms.
Xolile trained at South Africa’s National School of the Arts and later moved to the US, where she studied directing at the New York Film Academy. While in the States, Xolile landed a starring role in an episode of NCIS in which she played Sayda Zuri, a woman in search of her estranged husband. The role gave Xolile a chance to showcase her breadth of talent through the many emotions Sayda conveyed as she discovered the agonizing truth about her missing husband. “It was a great experience artistically and also a learning experience. I am still receiving residuals from that episode of NCIS.” Xolile points out that, “In South Africa, actors do not receive such compensation after a show is completed. But I hope that will change some day.”
After returning to South Africa, she performed in countless plays and numerous commercials, and again began landing starring roles on Africa’s most popular television shows. She also began wearing the director’s hat.
The actress was very excited to tell us how her directorial debut came about. “I was set to direct an episode of a new and award-winning hit television series, Intersexions, when one of the lead actresses had to bow out. The production team begged me to take the role as opposed to the director’s chair.” A smart business woman, Xolile saw this as an opportunity to play a leading part in a series already popular with fans across the continent, and to position herself as a director. She took the role in exchange for a director’s position down the road. “After completing Intersexions, I was given the opportunity to direct on the team’s other hit series, 4Play: Sex Tips for Girls. “I loved the opportunity, and both series are amazing and have the production quality of Jacob’s Cross,” which The Africa Channel maintains can compete with anything on television in the US.
Want to see more of Xolile? Be sure to check our schedule this Spring, when Season 8 of Jacob’s Cross premieres. In the meantime, here are clips from her heart-wrenching NCIS performance: http://bit.ly/U5UloN