blood & Water

Courtesy of Netflix

‘Blood & Water’ cast: In conversation with Khosi Ngema and Ama Qamata

Khosi Ngema and Ama Qamata stole South Africa’s collective heart as Fikile Bhele and Puleng Khumalo in Netflix’s second African Original, ‘Blood & Water’. spoke to them about their roles and experience on set.

blood & Water

Courtesy of Netflix

Blood & Water follows Puleng (portrayed by Ama) who believes that Fikile (a popular athlete at Parkhurst College, portrayed by Khosi) is her sister Phumele.

Phumele was kidnapped as part of a human trafficking network 16 years ago. We sat down with Ama and Khosi (virtually) to unpack the complexity of their roles and their experiences on set.

Blood & Water: Khosi Ngema and Ama Qamata

Premiering during a lockdown

We’re living in strange times: South Africa was in lockdown level 5 and level 4 since 26 March. While lockdown impacted our day-to-day lives, the impact was also felt in the film industry.

We were curious as to whether it was more stressful for the actors to be on set filming, or waiting during lockdown while the rest of the world catches up with their hard work.

The biggest challenge for Ama was “definitely not having a premiere”, while Khosi described it as a blessing in disguise. Ama explains:

“We’ve been preparing for it for so long; I prepared my dress last year and it was so exciting. Then boom, COVID-19 was like, ‘No’. It was quite stressful, but it’s been exciting times”.

Ama Qamata

Ama said, however, that Blood & Water’s reception was overwhelming. She’s grateful that fans – both locally and internationally – enjoyed the show, adding that “it’s exciting more than stressful”.

Khosi said that not having a premiere meant that “we’re all just communicating and really reflecting on the experience and how big this is right now”. She’s also keeping creatively active during the lockdown.

“We’re getting to engage with all the new fans who are enjoying the show. Personally I’ve been enjoying lockdown. Obviously it’s not the best situation for anyone. But it’s been helpful for me to be creative.”

Khosi Ngema

Staying creatively active during lockdown

Other than acting, Khosi is also passionate about music and has been “working really hard in that department. What does the future hold? Khosi hopes to get more opportunities to grow as an actor.

“I’m just content to see where it takes me, and I’m enjoying the moment right now,” she adds, and said that her favourite part was getting to do what she loves.

“I have dreamed of this my entire life, I don’t even remember when I started loving the art. To be given the opportunity on such a large scale as well as to grow and learn from all these experiences and established actors was such an honour.”

Khosi Ngema

Inspiration for their respective roles

According to Ama, her character was 16 and it’s an age she can still relate too. In addition, having a great director such as Nosipho Dumisa really went a long way in helping to bring Puleng to life.

“[Nosipha Dumisa] wrote the story as well, so she was able to guide us in terms of where to take the story, and our story arcs. Preparation is very important, I definitely took notes and mapped out my character’s journey so I was able to hit the emotional beat”.

Ama Qamata

Khosi explains that it’s her first professional role and that working with Nosipho, the directors and the cast “just made everything so much easier”.

“I really tried to understand her [Fikile; while preparing for the scenes] in a different context as well, not necessarily in the story. Given that, as well as taking my own experience that I could relate to what she’s going through really helped me portray her as well as I could”.

Khosi Ngema

“I’m so humbled and grateful to Netflix and the producers for believing in me,” she adds.

Their hard work paid off: Blood & Water reached the top spot among viewers, not only among South African fans but with American audiences as well.

“We were so surprised and how that whole thing happened was literally just engaging with fans of the show. People from all around the world were sending us DMs (direct messages). […] I think it’s been so overwhelming, I couldn’t believe it. I was so surprised and started dancing [when Nosipho shared the news]”.

Ama Qamata

Why do you need to watch Blood & Water?

Ama jokes that Nasty C is on the show and that in itself is enough reason to watch Blood & Water. She adds that it’s also “amazing to support young African talent and creatives”.

“We are flying the South African flag really high and we want more opportunities and more investment in African content. There is a thirst for African talent, and we should really support that and get behind it”.

Ama Qamata

Khosi says Blood & Water is a diverse show with a fresh voice and different people who are easy to relate to. She says that representation is “really important in this day and age,” and concludes:

“I think you should watch Blood & Water because it’s a really big story; it tackles a lot of socially relevant issues that aren’t necessarily being spoken about in the world or in South Africa.”

Khosi Ngema

Also read – Netflix’s ‘Blood & Water’ delivers the whole powerful package