Manaka Ranaka is a South African actress best known for her roles as production company owner Vinolia Ntuli in the SABC1 drama series Tshisa (2006), as Portia in Gaz'lam (2002-2005), and as Lerato Khumalo in the SABC2 sitcom Stokvel, from 2005-2012.
Manaka didn’t train formally. One day she went with her mother to see a client. The client insisted she’d seen Manaka’s face before.
When Manaka, just finishing school, said she was a nobody the client said Manaka had the kind of face that belonged on TV and introduced her to a friend, who is a casting agent.
Manaka’s first audition landed her the role of the devious former prostitute turned housekeeper (and now TV presenter) Nandipha Sithole on Isidingo, in February 2000.
Seven months in she told the producers she was pregnant and was promptly fired. Her role was taken over by Hlubi Mboya.
Manaka turned to corporate theatre and then commercial theatre - performing in Drumstruck, On My Birthday and Torong, amongst others.
In 2002 she landed the role of HIV-positive character Portia on the youth drama Gaz'lam, which she continued to play until 2005 when the series ended.
Following her stint on Gaz'lam she landed the role of Lerato Khumalo on the comedy Stokvel. Also in 2005, she appeared in an episode of the sexuality documentary series SexTV, in the episode entitled "Media in South Africa/Vaginas/A Moment with... Suze Randall" (Season 7, Episode 18).
In 2006 she played the recurring role of Nozuko in the SABC3 dramedy One Way. She also played the lead role of Vinolia Ntuli in the drama series Tshisa, and had a cameo as Ayanda in the Golden Horn-nominated mini-series Society, which aired on SABC1 in January/February 2007.
In October 2007 she won the Golden Horn for Best Actress in a TV Comedy at the second annual South African Film and Television awards (SAFTAs), for her role in Stokvel.
She also has a starring role as Buhle "Beauty" Cele, mother to V12 and the joke of the family who is always on the way to the top but ends up in the middle, in the Mzansi Magic soap opera Zabalaza.