B.Side chats with some of the show's leading characters on significant themes connecting them to the story.
Picking up from right where it left off, South Africa’s Netflix original series Blood & Water has become stronger with the second season, touching on relevant cultural themes and serving up eye-peeling drama suited to keep fans glued to their screens.
Recently, the African film industry has ushered in a refreshing approach to coming-of-age stories that have been largely under-explored in African cinema. Blood & Water fits right into the changing narrative, as the project helps young adults across the continent navigate the struggles and triumphs of growing up in difficult and dangerous circumstances. The show especially highlights this through issues around child trafficking, family drama, drugs, abandonment, and desperation, while providing a source for entertainment at the same time.
Blood & Water is one of those shows that seems to be a pretty standard teen drama on the surface but has elements to it that are certainly more germane to where it's more than you first suspect. These aspects make the show so intriguing, along with stellar performances by its young leads.
B.Side had an exclusive chat with some cast members, including the lead actor Fikile Bhele (Khosi Ngema), Zama Bolton (Cindy Mahlangu) and newcomer Sam (Leroy Siyafa) ahead of the project’s release on Netflix. This exciting B.Side exclusive discusses their first day back on set, character progression, and significant themes that connect them to the story.
B.Side: Hi guys! How was the first day back on set for you all?
Cindy Mahlangu: On my own side, I was very intrigued as to what will happen in season two. I really wanted to know the story and when I read my script, I was really blown away.
Khosi Ngema: I agree with Cindy, I was really excited and anxious about what was going to happen and once we did read the script, we were ready to go.
Leroy Siyafa: The first day on set was definitely nerve-racking, but also very exciting because I felt like I was where I was supposed to be, and I was welcomed well by the cast and the crew. Everyone was just so warm and welcoming, so it was really nice.
Khosi, how was your character as Fikile able to progress this season now that she is aware that she and Puleng may be sisters. And how were you able to navigate your emotions?
Khosi: [It was] definitely a lot! It's a lot to take in for anyone, especially a seventeen-year-old girl. So yeah, just like following her journey, there's a lot of denial and confusion and anger because this girl Puleng just came out of nowhere and just turned [Fikile] life upside down, you know? So she navigates a lot of emotions and mainly just tries to find her own voice throughout all the chaos as well.
Cindy, let’s talk about how your character played her role outside of Parkhurst college. Zama was very much involved in helping Puleng on her mission to uncover the truth about Fikile’s true identity. How excited were you about this?
Cindy: I think the character is Cindy herself. Because Cindy is where the news is, she's not going to miss out on anything. If something is trending or someone is popular and trending, she'd know about that person. So when Puleng called [Zama] and [told her] what she was actually getting up to, she was also shocked more than anything, but she was ready to help her friend because she's that ride-or-die friend. So she's like, “Okay, friend, this feels a bit weird, but what are we doing? What do you need from me? What's next?”
What were the things you did to ensure good on-screen chemistry with Puleng?
Cindy: So I think with me and Ama [Puleng], that came naturally really from the first time we saw each other. We were very welcoming with each other and the chemistry that you see on screen is exactly what happens off-screen. So that was very easy.
Leroy, your addition this season ensures old alliances are tested while new and unlikely friendships are forged. Were you excited to get in the mix?
Leroy: Yes, absolutely. I think, at some point, [Sam] was really just in awe of how crazy the school is and the drama, but I think that intrigued him. He liked how spicy the school was. There was so much going on and he didn't necessarily like the drama but he certainly liked being a part of it somehow and wanted to get into the mix a little bit. One major theme this season explored is friendship and trust. Fikile had to navigate a lot of these themes as her character developed and, in this case, she trusted Sam when she found out that Fikile is indeed her sister.
Khosi, why did Fikile think she could trust Sam when she found out through the DNA that Puleng is her sister?
Khosi: I think Fikile trusts Sam because he sort of comes into her life as it's like falling apart basically and he's like the breath of sweet fresh air, you know? And he's so forward, also, and she's like, “okayyyy,” you know? And like the chemistry they have, obviously. I guess he's the one person she can confide in because, surprisingly enough, she doesn't even tell her close friends. They barely know what's happening in each other's life even though they are friends. And because he's also new and they currently have some sort of chemistry going on between them. Also, he is sort of like an outsider to all the chaos. I think that's how she felt it was okay to confide in him.
What aspects in your character do you think the audience will relate to this season?
Leroy: So, personally, I think the fact that at the end of the day, family matters regardless. I think when people watch Blood & Water season two, they'd see that through my character. That, regardless of the chaos, drama, family matters at the end of the day more than anything else.
Cindy: For me, I feel like the audience will connect to the friendships and how people’s relationships evolved. It is very important to be a good friend to your friends. You know people are going through different things in life and so whatever you can do to help, I think you should just be that [ride-or-die] friend.
Khosi: I definitely agree with what others said and I am excited that this series is shedding light on issues around child trafficking and kidnapping in Africa. Also, for my character, I would say it's okay to not pursue perfection ever, especially when you're so young. We are real people, and people can recognise that as much as we are characters on screen, we are real people, and you can [understnad that], at the end, we’re all the same.
Blood & Water is available for streaming on Netflix.
Featured image credit: Netflix