It’s not all about the glitz and the glam when it comes to Nomzamo Mbatha
Nomzamo Mbatha, known and loved by many as Thandeka Zungu on Mzansi Magic’s popular soapie IsiBaya, is SA’s small-screen sweetheart. Growing up in KwaMashu, a township in Durban North, Nomzamo had a real passion both for numbers and the dramatic arts, but it was her ultimate decision to pursue acting over accounting that marked the beginning of a prosperous career. After three seasons of IsiBaya, Nomzamo left the small screen to star alongside Maps Maponyane in the romantic film Tell Me Sweet Something. At just 24 years old, Nomzamo is already making her mark in the SA entertainment industry and beyond.
Q Did you always envision yourself to be the successful actress you are today?
A I always knew I was truly destined for something that would involve the spotlight. In my mind, it was most probably going to happen through public speaking, but never through acting. I was always known as the academic both at home and school, forever doing things by the book and being quite outspoken. My grandmother and parents have always been very big on school and getting an education, so things such as acting were never in my frame of mind, and that’s why I studied accounting. It was only after I realised accounting wasn’t my calling that I had to sit my mother and aunt down to tell them that while I was dropping out of one career path, I was dropping into another. That was when I got my big break on IsiBaya and I guess they were all glad that they never hindered my decision.
Q What made you decide to study accounting at university?
A I studied accounting because, in my mind, it was the safest choice. At the time, it was a ‘passion vs reason’ bargain. It made sense financially because all I’ve ever wanted to do was take care
of my family. I’m glad I’m in a position where I get to live out my passion and be financially stable at the same time.
Q How did landing such a huge role on IsiBaya force you to adapt to the life of ‘fame and fortune’?
A In a matter of months, I went from being a student to having my picture on billboards and taxis across the country. I never expected the warm reception and love I received within a year of
being in the industry. It has been so surreal. Industry veterans were watching and applauding my work, I was being offered roles, and suddenly life was so very different – but different in a good
way. This year marks three of the most incredible years of my life.
Q What do you feel soap operas offer audiences that other, say, series and films, perhaps do not?
A The first obvious one is that they are daily, which means there’s a relationship and bond that’s formed between all the characters and families at home. Many families never have time to sit together at once and actually spend quality time together. Knowing that I make families do that, even for just 30 minutes every day, is special and heart-warming. Creating stories that are continual and that spark conversation, communication and laughter is a truly wonderful thing for me.
Q What is the one piece of advice you would give other aspiring actresses?
A Don’t do it for the money, but know your worth. Ask questions and be open to learning. Rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough, it just means you have to go home and sharpen your tools
so that you are prepared for the next audition. The most important tool in acting is listening. When you listen, you are able to react more appropriately.
Q Do you feel that South Africa’s entertainment industry is nurturing
to budding actors and actresses?
A To a certain extent, yes. However, it needs to be strengthened in terms of longevity and sustainability for young actors and actresses. In the beginning, it is really great – all glitz and glam.
But then reality sets in and most actors and actresses are obliged to stay in soap operas because they are the safest option that can provide stability as well as a constant flow of income at the end of
Q What keeps you grounded amid all the craziness of being in the public eye?
A My family. They are my first best friends and I have no void that fame needs to fill; that is why I play the game by my rules and according to my time.
Q Is there a side to you that not many people are aware of when you are away
from the limelight?
A I’m crazy. I love having big, boisterous, loud laughs and I love to dance. Also, there is an industry myth that I’m a gym bunny, although I’m really not. I love desserts and they’re the real reason I go to gym – so I’m able to eat whatever I want.
Q Do you have any other passions besides acting?
A My passions are music, travelling, business and philanthropy. I just want to
be an agent of change. I want to make buckets of money and spend my days giving it away while travelling the world.
Q What does the future hold for you professionally and personally?
A Professionally, in the future I see a young girl who’s trying to take over the world and pursue her dreams in the acting industry beyond South Africa. Personally, I would really like to finish my accounting degree and also travel a lot.