Church going actress Thabisile Zikhali on playing a sex worker on Rockville


She recently joined the cast of Rockville, a drama series which is in fifth season. 

She plays the role of Sweety, a sassy, confident sex worker at a high-class brothel, disguised as Hotel Paradiso.

Thabisile Zikhali (27) plays the diva who loves attention. Sweety hates competition and is passionate about her job as a sex worker.

“She is basically what many call a slay queen. She is a prostitute and works for JB,” Thabisile says.

“Sweety used to work the streets of Hillbrow earning R100 an hour, but their lifestyle has been upgraded to the hotel in Sandton where she earns a lot more.”

To play the role of Sweety, Thabisile had to push herself as a new actress.

“I am the complete opposite of Sweety, therefore I needed to fully commit to the part,” she says.

“I am a God-fearing, church-going and Sweety is a street-smart sex worker,” Thabisile says.

The last four seasons of Rockville told the story of a high-flying underworld figure involved in a ring of prostitution at his top-class cigar lounge, Rockville in Sandton.

This season explores how their now five-star legitimate establishment owner JB (Shona Ferguson) and his wife Lindi (Enhle-Mbali Mlotshwa) have to turn Hotel Paradiso into a money-spinner again as the aftermath of death has dried up their coffers and put many livelihoods on the line as room bookings dwindle.

Before bagging her job in Rockville, Thabisile had just finished shooting the film Alleyway, an action thriller where she plays a curious radio presenter who helps a man who was unlawfully arrested for a crime he did not commit. 

 “I play one of the leas roles alongside Luthuli Dlamini, and Jack Devnarian,” Thabisile says. 

Before that, she had a stint on The Queen as a detective. 

“On my very first day, I got the opportunity to play a detective alongside Connie Ferguson. That for me was a dream come true because she is my living icon who I looked up to even before I knew I had a passion for the arts.”

In 2019, Thabisile featured on uFelani, a documentary re-enactment on Gender-Based Violence by Moja Love. 

“I was the lead, telling the story of an abused woman who later gets killed by her boyfriend,” she says.

She hasn’t been on TV that long and she’s already won many hearts.

“I am really hungry to learn, I am professional and I make sure I commit myself because ultimately this is what I love,” Thabisile says. 

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Born in and raised Kwa Mashu in KwaZulu Natal, Thabisile is the eldest out of two girls. Her sister Sindisiwe (26) is a law student. She comes from a family of academics but was sure from a young age that she would choose acting. At school, she naturally became an A- student.

“I was the first black deputy head girl. I played over five sports and was named female sportswoman of the year. My friends and I started a church at school where I was a pastor at 17 years old. I would preach daily, and we would hold sermons to keep the learners motivated,” she says.

Even today Thabisile preaches at every chance. 

“I do motivational talks at schools, preach at church and functions.” And more than three times a year she donates blankets, food, and toiletries to those in need. 

“It’s something I have done since I was 19 years old. I do not have an NGO and for me giving and praying for others comes naturally,” Thabisile says.

In 2014, she started a modelling agency for girls from Kwa Mashu.

“I saw how young beautiful girls ended up dating older men to fund their lifestyles and I opened my agency to help get them jobs. So, I did modelling pageants and work, acting jobs and we did promotions at taverns and at night clubs earning as little as R200,” Thabisile says.

“My goal was to get young girls off the streets,” she adds.

In 2019 she graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal but decided to pursue acting.

”After graduating, I joined the Duma Ndlovu Academy. I knew that acting is what I wanted to do, and I did not want to waste any more time.” 

Being at the academy taught her the skills she needed and opened doors for her.

“I started auditioning for small roles and had one foot inside the industry,” she says.

“Funny I should play the role of a prostitute because a long time ago I was cast as Mary Magdalene who, according to the four canonical gospels, travelled with Jesus as one of his followers and witnessed his crucifixion, and was described by many as a prostitute. So maybe this role was meant for me,” Thabisile says.

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Away from the small screen, Thabisile is a cattle farmer. She started farming in 2017 following her grandfather’s footsteps and now owns her farm. She used the money she had to save up and from her agency to buy livestock.

“The entertainment industry has its ups and downs, I took the money I made, and I invested in my farming and put effort and hard work into being a farmer,” she says.

In the future, she hopes to supply big outlets with cattle meat, poultry, and dairy. And she hopes her acting will put her on an international platform where she goes to Hollywood.

“But that is a plan I am working on for the next five years to come. For now, I will enjoy my time in Rockville,” Thabisile says.


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