Actress Nambitha Ben-Mazwi left the corporate world to finally pursue her true passion; acting. She shares how she made the transition. By Kwanele Mathebula
I was an inquisitive child, and loved being on stage. I was born and raised in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth. At the age of 12, I joined the Eastern Cape Children’s Choir and toured around Europe. I also participated in musicals where I got to do the two things that I love; singing and acting. Additionally, my late uncle Winston Ntshona influenced my love for the arts. Watching him perform alongside Dr John Kani and other theatre greats was inspiring. Although I loved being on stage, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
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My passion for acting eventually overtook my aspirations for business. In 2007, I started studying towards my business science degree at the University of Cape Town (UCT). I nurtured my love for the arts by participating in extra mural activities such as radio, hosting events and attending auditions. After completing my degree in 2009, I did my honours which I completed in 2010. The following year, I got a job as a business strategist at a software company. The long hours kept me from pursuing my other interests and I started to miss performing. At the time, I was preparing to move to the New York office for a different position within the company. But, I decided to quit my job in December and move to New York on my own to try and kick off my acting career. As soon as I arrived, I looked for work. Six months later, I got a job as a host at The Stand Comedy Club and panellist on talk show Viewpoint Live on Al Jazeera. In June 2013, I decided to return to South Africa to pursue acting.
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I hope you realize how magical you are Love, Lady Nam
My return to Cape Town boosted my acting career. I didn’t waste any time, I immediately started going to auditions. Things didn’t pick up right away, but I kept going. In 2014, I got the role of Busi on the second season of Traffic – a crime drama on e.tv. I then got a job in the marketing department at Heart FM which was flexible enough for me to attend auditions. The following year, I auditioned for the SABC 3 Presenter Search where I received a wild card to the top 11. After this, I stopped auditioning for presenting jobs because I didn’t want to be typecast. In June, I moved to Johannesburg to seek acting opportunities. I then got my first lead role on Mzansi Magic drama series Doubt in December 2015. This led to more roles such as my first international role on Netflix’s remake of Black Mirror, BET movie Madiba and SABC1’s prison drama, Diamond City. At the end of 2016, I received a character brief for Lulama, for e.tv telenovela Broken Vows. I was confident that I was perfect for the role during my audition, and I got it. It thrust me into the spotlight and improved my acting skills. I was happy with the progress of my career, and decided to take what I had learnt and give back to my community.
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I look forward to using my career to improve the lives of other women. Being on television exposed me to the many issues young girls are struggling with such as confidence and self-acceptance. This sparked the idea to start She Speaks, a women empowerment programme that encourages self-love. I host events where women can share their experiences in safe spaces. I also joined e.tv soapie, Scandal! where I played Chardonnay, a young hostess at a secret gentleman’s club. Playing that character was a lot of fun for me.
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