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Gail Mabalane is Stepping Out of Her Comfort Zone

After more than a decade in the entertainment industry, this leading lady is stepping out of her comfort zone.

Gail Mabalane has come a long way since being a Top 10 finalist in the sixth season of Idols SA and performing with local gospel group Joyous Celebration.   

Gail’s passion for storytelling and connecting with audiences led her to successfully transition from music to the screen. She’s also been the face of Oil of Olay and hair colour brand Inecto Plus, and now she’s the founder of her own vitamin-enriched haircare range, Ethnogenics.   

Honing her craft  

As an actor, Gail is known for her versatility and captivating performances. Her breakthrough came when she landed a role in local M-Net soapie The Wild. She went on to join Generations: The Legacy, before landing a main role in the award-winning telenovela drama The Road  

Gail’s magnetic presence shone through, earning her critical acclaim. “Acting allows me to step into someone else’s shoes and explore different aspects of the human experience,” she explains. “It’s a transformative and deeply fulfilling process.”  

In 2020, she took on the harrowing role of a mother searching for her abducted daughter in Netflix’s Blood & Water. “As an actress, I want to portray characters that challenge and inspire me. I believe in the power of storytelling and the ability to bring people together through shared experiences.”  

In the spotlight  

Fast-forward to 2023, and Gail has a lead role on South Africa’s current number-one hit Netflix show, Unseen. In this sensational six-act crime thriller, she plays Zenzi Mwale, an unassuming domestic worker who embarks on a quest to find her husband who has disappeared after he came out of prison, only to become entangled by formidable and ferocious enemies.  


“Representation matters. We need diverse stories on our screens that reflect the world we live in.


Through the electrifying twists and turns of this riveting tale, Zenzi proves that heroism knows no boundaries. Armed with bucketloads of resilience and resourcefulness, Gail’s raw performance proves to us that when ordinary meets extraordinary, the result is a mesmerising symphony of justice, courage and the triumph of the human spirit. 

“It was hard because the story is a reality for many. It was challenging; it forced me to put myself in the shoes of women who have been taken advantage of and the work they needed to do after that – the trauma and all the emotions that you go through,” she admits. “And that’s something we fight against every day as women. It was very real, and it was tough.”  

One of the major reasons why the talented actor took on this role is because she feels strongly about the acknowledgement and representation of marginalised individuals, such as the domestic worker she portrays in Unseen  

“Representation matters. We need diverse stories on our screens that reflect the world we live in. I want to be a part of telling those stories and amplifying the voices of those who are marginalised. As a society, we have the little bubbles we operate in and we often don’t allow ourselves to step out of them,” she states.   

“It’s been a journey of being intentional about stepping out of our bubbles and going into the worlds we wouldn’t usually go into; otherwise, what’s the point of being part of a community, if all you know is your little bubble?   

I hope that the audience gets that when they watch Unseen. The challenge is to be bold and brave, to venture outside of our bubbles and step into this world that we usually don’t bother getting into.”  


“My son and daughter are always watching. what they see me do will affect their future behaviour”


Leading by example  

On the family side of things, Gail is not only a devoted wife to local muso Kabelo Mabalane (they married in 2013), but also a doting mom to daughter Zoe and son Khumo. She and Kabelo are committed to being the best parents they can be.  

“We want to empower the next generation; children learn through actions, not by being sat down. We try to set a good example for our kids,” she says. “I’m living it every single day, aware that I’m setting an example for our children. For my son to be a good man in society; for my daughter to be independent.  

Everything I do, my son and daughter are always watching. What they see me do will affect their future behaviour and the way they view things and handle situations.” And how does Gail juggle acting, parenting and marriage? It’s all about authenticity and acceptance. “With marriage, there are no perfect people allowed!,” she says.   

“Marriage is about holding the mirror up and saying, ‘This is who I am.’ It’s about embracing that I am not imperfect in my shortcomings and imperfections. All to be a better, mom, sister, parent and wife.”  


Fast facts

Full Name:
Gail Nkoane Mabalane 

27 December 1984 

Kimberley, Northern Cape 

Follow her:

Instagram: @gail_mabalane 
Facebook: Gail Mabalane 
Twitter: @GailMabalane 


Words by: Quaide Rumble.
Photographs: Gallo/Getty Images, supplied  

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