Glamour: How excited are you to be a part of ‘How to Ruin Christmas?’ a whole Netflix original?
Yonda Thomas: I’m really excited about that, and when I read the script, I knew this was going to be an amazing story, it’s authentically South African, and it’s on Netflix, it’s going to be seen globally, so this is an exciting time!
Glamour: Please take us through the process of mentally preparing for your character?
Yonda Thomas: I’d usually be at home alone and try to get my character; I’d go through the backstory on my own but this time it was different because we were working in a quarantined environment. Netflix made sure that we were all working safely because we were working during a pandemic, so they tested us and put us all together. This time, I would say, was a bit different because I had a group of other people; directors, producers, people I could ask questions about my character, talk to and relate with. I worked a lot with Busisiwe for instance because our characters have a lot of scenes together. I think the load was a bit lighter because I got to work with other actors and it was a great experience in that we all got to work together to try to bring together a nice and authentic story. My preparation was basically to create a connection to the story and the characters that I’m working with.
Glamour: Would you say spending that much time with your co-stars contributed to the on-screen chemistry and brought you closer together?
Yonda Thomas: I always say that you can almost act anything out but you can’t act out chemistry, it has to be real. I do think being locked down together definitely gave us opportunities to do that and we got to relate to one another as people, performers, and storytellers. Most importantly we got to connect with our characters in a more diverse and dynamic way. It wasn’t just one view of what I think my character is going to be but also how other people view my character, and I could incorporate that in the storytelling, and into the scenes. It really did bring us closer together, we became like a family, and we started laughing at each other’s jokes, and having inside jokes. We got to know each other personally and closely, which I think adds on to the on-screen chemistry.
Glamour: Can we talk about your character? How would you describe your relationship with Busi (Tumi on screen) both on and off screen? Also, can you relate to your character? Have you ever met a female version of yourself?
Yonda Thomas: Khaya is very complicated, and so is his relationship with Tumi whereas my relationship with Busi is very simple. Khaya finds himself in a position where he wants more maybe and he doesn’t really know where he stands with her. He doesn’t if she wants the same thing, he does so I think it’s very complicated. Have I met a female version of Khaya? Female version where every guy wants to be with her and every girl wants to be her. Yeah! I think I’ve met a couple of people like him, which is what I think makes him so relatable because we’ve all met a guy like him.
Glamour: Can we discuss the colorful family dynamics? Just watching it as a South African, I was so happy that it’s so relatable. Can you also relate?
Yonda Thomas: Just earlier, we were talking about how there was a sheep in the story and we know as South Africans, especially black families, that there will be a sheep there. It was there for the occasion, and the color…there’s always that uncle, that, aunt, and there’s always grandma who’s always spicy in the corner. It was very relatable for me so I looked it, and was like this is a South African family that everybody can look at and be like I have a family like this, and I have an uncle like this, so “How to ruin Christmas: The Wedding” is what a South African wedding is what a South African Christmas wedding would really look like. With all the color, family dynamics, the dysfunction, fights, and importantly the love we share in that chaos, it’s almost like organized chaos, and I think everyone can relate to that, both internationally and globally.
Glamour: With that said, kudos to Netflix for coming to the party in terms of telling local stories. According to you, how important is it to tell our own stories?
Yonda Thomas: Like you said, kudos to Netflix! They’ve found a way to open a door for local stories to be seen internationally and making Africa part of the global village in terms of storytelling, so I think they’ve done a great deal in that. They’ve been able to take South African stories and give them an international voice, and international; platform. They’ve taken African artists and made them international artists, which helps us tell our stories in a more diverse and authentic African way. What they’ve done very well is keeping it authentically African. They’ve kept it authentic to the place, and given to the world in a way that can be interpreted in a global way. I cannot understate that; it’s been a great deal for everyone involved.
Glamour: As an actor, what does it mean to you to get a stamp from Netflix?
Yonda Thomas: It almost validates your work to be recognized by Netflix that is in over 190 countries and viewed by 195 million people all over the world, I mean they’re clearly doing something right. And if they see you, and if they say “we see you” that means a lot. It’s going to mean a lot for my career, it’s definitely a step up for my career to be able to work with people from Netflix, the Ramaphakela siblings…it’s a great step up. One thing I’d like to point out is that Netflix is big on growing South African producers and trying to promote that, so for me. I want to be part of that group.
Glamour: We see you too! Well done, you did a stellar job! And after the year we’ve had, would you say this is the highlight of your year?
Yonda Thomas: This, after the year we’ve had, is a breath of fresh air and a way to kick of Dezemba! I think we need this, we need ‘How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding’ to kick off December and to unpack everything that’s happened this year. Nothing like a little bit of comedy to lighten the mood and bring everyone together again, and to give us a warm fuzzy feeling to finish the year off on. We definitely needed this!
Glamour: We watched episodes one and two and waited for episode three to load but it didn’t. What can the viewers expect without giving away too much? You guys are doing the most!
Yonda Thomas: Thank you so much! Hopefully, you’ll get to watch it with all of us and the rest of the world on the 16th of December when it comes out everywhere. So, we all get to see the end together.
Glamour: Thank you so much! We look forward to the premiere, thank you for your time and all the best!
Yonda Thomas: Thank you so much and I’m glad you’re enjoying it, thank you!
Don’t miss the premiere of How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding on Netflix, on the 16th of December.