by Thinus Ferreira
SABC1 has announced that the former MTV VJ Farieda Metsileng will portray the title role of Bettina Sikhakane in the local adaptation of Ugly Betty that will be broadcast from April in South Africa as uBettina Wethu while Coconut Kelz will portray the role of Zaza Moloi.
The co-production between the SABC that will broadcast it on SABC1 and the video streaming VIU is produced by the South African production company Known Associates Entertainment, with Tshepiso Sello as producer, with the company that has been responsible for series like Keeping Score, Hustle and Emoyeni as Fireworx Media.
uBettina Wethu that will debut on Monday 5 April at 19:30 on SABC1 with three weekly episodes from Mondays to Wednesdays, will be the first in the world to feature a black Betty along with a majority-black cast with the South African version, an adaptation of Colombia's Yo Soy Bety La Fea.
The series will follow the journey of Bettina Sikhakane as "a wholesome, intelligent, but gawky, people-pleaser with a dated, unsophisticated sense of style, who finds her self-worth and image challenged when she is employed at Nubia - a brand management company, a place where at times people value image over substance".
Farieda Metsileng is best-known for her role as Kandy in the Mzansi Magic telenovela Isithembiso that she got in 2017, and she has also been working as a voice artist, MTV VJ and a production manager at Red Pepper Pictures.
Other TV roles so far have included appearances as Hlubi in SABC1's Ses' Top La and My Perfect Family, 4Play Sex Tips for Girls, and as Polite in the 5th season of Uzalo on SABC1.
"We are very proud to call uBettina Wethu our own as SABC1; the production value is astounding and is a great fit for our growing brand and spot-on in terms of our market domination strategy," says Phumzile Zonke, SABC1 channel head.
"This first-ever simulcast with VIU is breaking new ground and we are glad to be part of broadcast history in the making."
Besides Farieda Metsileng, Zweli Dube has been cast as Dingaan Jiyane who will be Bettina's love interest; while Tsholofelo Mashishi plays Dingaan's mother and the matriarch of the family. Linda Jiyane and Lesego Tlhabi known as Coconut Kelz will play the bubbly Zaza Moloi.
The uBettina Wethu supporting cast are Michael Potter as Brandon Thomas, Elliot Makhubo as Israel Sikhakhane, Mbasa Msongeli as Mpilo Hadebe, Brighton Ngoma as T-Bang Moeketsi, Ayanda Bandla as Lakhe Amon, Mhairi Fergusson as Amanda, Motshabi Tyelele as Ethel, Jason Willemse as Wendell and Alex Sono as Reggie.
Ayanda Sithebe, the show's casting director says "We are currently experiencing an outcry of young aspiring actors-through social media discussion vehicles as #OpenTheIndustry. Young talent often does not have accessibility to the industry and an opportunity to audition."
"Considering the above, the mandate from the producers was very clear to me to find balance in casting experienced actors and also young new/fresh talent."