Gugu, the golden girl of Zim TV

Takudzwa Chihambakwe
“I think I am a weird girl. I cannot bear shopping and dread the salon. It’s funny that as I was going through my closet this morning, I realised that almost all the stuff I have, I did not purchase it,” said a very “weird”, feisty but loved actress, Gugu from the popular television drama series, “Wenera”.

The 24-year-old was thrust into Zimbabwean homes at a tender age of eight as host of children’s programme, Starkids. A position she kept till she was 17. However, it was only when she landed a role on “Wenera” in 2015 that Gugu, real name Tinashe Natasha Pundo, became talk of the town.

From presenter to actress; was Gugu always keen on such a switch?

“Acting is something I have really surprised myself with. I can’t say I always thought I would pursue acting but I almost always knew I loved television. I had anticipated to be a presenter for the better part of my career,” said Gugu.

Zimbabweans adore Gugu who switches from her usual reserved real life character to a nasty and annoying wife in the drama series. But she says initially she never signed up for such a nasty role.

“Gugu was not always nasty. The first days, I got scripts of a very quiet woman, whose job was just to eat mostly. A role I still greatly appreciate. However, as time progressed I noticed how the scripts began to change as more and more lines and gestures were introduced to my character.

“I am not sure to this day if the writer knew from scratch where he wanted the Gugu character to go or maybe it developed during the course of shooting,” she revealed.

The Mabelreign Girls High School and Speciss College alumni, who was raised by a single mother, who fended for her and her young sister, said her first days on “Wenera” were tough.

“I faced the challenge of trying to be the person I was replacing. I had not yet grasped the secret of understanding the role and then applying myself to it. This vital lesson is something I have carried with me and applied to other sectors of my life also.”

Besides “Wenera”, Pundo featured in the award-winning feature film, “Mwanasikana”.

“I also found the shooting hours quite hectic. I remember how I would get frustrated from being on my feet all day and well into the night, everyday of the week.”

The sweet personality also revealed that at times her acting persona intrudes into her personal life.

“I am not going to lie and say I have never had moments when Gugu unexpectedly pops out but I have learnt to control those urges,” she revealed.

Whilst a kissing or eating scene might be the most memorable to thespians, with Gugu it was a slap.

“The most memorable moment I had on Wenera has to be when my sister-in-law, Tete Tanya, slapped me. I guess I did expect it to hurt, but not to the point to which it did. She was professional about it, however, striking a balance between delivering a firm believable slap and cooling me off with some ice during the breaks between shooting,” reflected Gugu.

Pundo who is not married but has a supportive hunk in her life, says acting has brought her good fortunes.

“Acting has brought me a lot of commercial success through advertising deals. It has also allowed me to speak on big platforms. I never dreamt I would one day work with organisations such as UNICEF.

“I view acting as the backbone to other opportunities that generate more money. I am nowhere close to being where I want to be but I am having the best year with corporates,” remarked Pundo.

She says she loves reading and following what is trending in the music world. Fame tends to affect many celebrities but she says she got it under wraps.

“I have made it a point to surround myself with people who are more successful and prestigious than me. As such when we move around in public the attention is usually drawn more to them than to me. Thing is I would much rather follow their paths and learn as much as I can from their mistakes than walk blindly into my own.”

Above all she is a grateful actress who looks forward to inspire upcoming thespians.

“Overall, I am truly grateful to have the privileges I have and understand that who I am today has been through the undying efforts of a lot of people. I appreciate them all and hope that when the need arises I will be there to return the great love they have shown me.”

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