Rami Chuene has emerged as the unlikely queen of television superbitches.
This week she solidified her grip on the no-nonsense, tough-as-nails bad-ass women in her new role as Gracious on the popular Mzansi Magic drama The Queen.
She will be going head to head with the much loved, yet devious Harriet Khoza, played by Connie Ferguson as she vies for her share of the drug business on the show. The stage is set for a right battle royale of two divas.
Chuene has been on a winning streak since her days as the vengeful Khomotjo in Muvhango, and as the unsmiling Lindiwe in Harvest and now she’s landed her bloodiest role in The Queen
I catch up with the gentle and warm Chuene a few days after her dramatic debut as the unscrupulous gun-wielding and blood-thirsty Gracious.
“It’s been crazy and amazing. I’m happy. I was nervous before the episode was shown and it has been so good to hear people say ‘we knew you won’t disappoint us’.”
Perhaps one of the best validations she could enjoy is the chorus of viewers who have hailed her inclusion in the cast of The Queen as “one of the best decisions the production has made”, as one viewer noted.
“I thought that was a beautiful compliment. You know sometimes we underestimate ourselves and our abilities. You’d think that you’re just doing well while someone else thinks you’re killing it.”
Chuene’s loyal fans from her days on Backstage, Scandal!, Hijack Stories, Inkaba, Justice for All and Isidingo have always known of her magic ingredient which is sincerity.
Chuene’s portrayal of any character, no matter how trivial, goes beyond believability. She is multi-layered and deliciously textured as a performer.
She loves these characters because no matter how extreme or over the top they may be, they still resonate with the audience
“Viewers always see someone or something about a character that reminds them of their aunt or mother. There’s always someone they can identify…”
Chuene offers Gracious’s now infamous Tuesday prayer at the breakfast table, when she prayed for those who’ve never tasted strawberries or are oblivious to the wondrous virtues of raw salmon, as an example.
“There are people who think like that,” she laughs.
“They might not say it or pray it, but they think having caviar is an achievement in life. They look down on those who haven’t had it.
“But the thing about Gracious is that she is honest. She has been upgraded in life and in her modesty she still throws shade, going deep into detail. Gracious is a reflection of the privileged few, delivered in a comedic way.”
ask her why we should love Gracious.
“She is sincere, she has no class, she acts before she thinks and reflects on her actions later and she has no brakes. Pulling a gun for her is no big deal. She is family orientated. All the morals Harriet [played by Ferguson] has, Gracious doesn’t have. If you’re not loyal you’re not part of the family. She will never betray family.
On the flip side? “What’s there not to like about Gracious, dahling,” she
“The biggest obstacle in her life will be the attachment and love people have for Harriet. Whatever she does she must not touch Harriet, the crowd’s favourite who kills with a smile. People are more understanding of Harriet’s action and are willing to forgive her because she has class.”
Away from The Queen, Chuene is exploring her other talents such as being on Cliff Central online radio with BeLighted, the show she hosts with Romeo Mabasa which she says brings enlightenment and “aha” moments through the unusual interviews they conduct.
She dreams of being a vernacular talk show host on a bigger station such as Thobela FM someday.
Chuene is content with her life. “I think I’m fine. I’m sitting in the now and enjoying it and the high that came with The Queen and Muvhango. The ceiling I see now will be the floor I’m standing on tomorrow. I’m grateful with what I have. There’s a lot to live for and more to look forward to.”