DURBAN, SA – Nandi Qhawekazi Khumalo takes on a role similar to that of Charlize Theron in Mirror, Mirror. The Film called Nkosazane is a Zulu adaptation of the famous Hollywood blockbuster. “My journey has been long and rough. Anyone who thinks they can’t chase after their dreams because they come from poverty stricken back rounds, or due to having a child out of wedlock. Perhaps they think they are too old to study or start afresh after the age of 25, I urge you to look at my life.” says Nandi.
Ms Khumalo describes herself as a proud mother, filmmaker, actress and God fearing woman with a dash of crazy. Nandi’s passion and relentless pursuit for her daring goals has led her to the centre stage of our television screens in this debut film. Khumalo having just dropped out of LAW school because of financial reasons she got in a learnership completed her studies in ( Performing Arts) at KCAP under director Edmund Mhlongo.
I am Nandi and this is my story
I went to study towards my diploma at the age of 27, leaving a comfortable life,having a child and no money. It didn’t matter how I was going to do it, all I knew is that I would get my education, whatever it takes.
I come from a small town called uLundi in KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa but grew up in KwaDukuza (Stanger). I’ve never known my father, I was raised by my aunt and uncle. After I got my high school senior certificate, I discovered I was one gifted creative. There is nothing you could throw my way that I couldn’t do; from Poetry, to radio presenting, coordinating events and acting. You name it and I did it; that is how I took care of my family financially. It was my goal and I was proud to be able to provide for them.
One of the most difficult decisions was putting myself first and choosing to study so I could follow my acting and film career. Because, that meant I had to quit my job and no longer support my family. I am grateful for my friend Nomfanelo who encouraged me to invest in myself and said, “If you keep looking back while trying to go forward, you will never get there.” Luckily my mother was very understanding, she said got for it my child, pursue your goals we will be fine.
Why education matters to me?
Most artists rely on talent to get by, I wanted different for myself. Especially because my friends and roommates were academics. It wasn’t a case of feeling left out or wanting to fit in. I was inspired to get the information I needed, to take my life to the next level.
People thought I was crazy to go to study full-time and they were right. Leaving a comfortable lifestyle to go be a broke student wasn’t an obviously “smart” idea. Especially because I was pushing 30 and the oldest in my class. But it didn’t matter to me what people said, I was going to be the first in my family that obtained a diploma. I had a goal.
It also helped a lot to have the support of my family. I had just broken up with the father of my child but thank God he still took care of our son, so I didn’t have to worry about him.
Sacrificing luxury for my goals
After I left my job, my roommate and I were both unemployed students, with no money. So we could no longer afford our apartment near the CBD. Fortunately we approached one of the elders at church who was renting our her backrooms in the township. She gave us a room to share for R1000 per month of rent.
We had no food, no beds, no furniture, only our clothes. Our saving grace was the church foundation we volunteer at called “Izandla Zothando” meaning “Hands of Hope”. It was formed by Pastor Dhlomo out of need, he wanted the church to really aid people who were struggling with basic living essentials.
We got sleeping sponges and food supplies to get us started over at our new residents. It wasn’t easy, we put our sponges on the cold concrete floor, had thin blankets and slept like that for over a year.
Thanks to Musa my hero who during that time let us help him at his restaurant so we could get a plate of food after college. All we had to do is wash the dishes and clean-up. The church also supplied our clothes.
“Graduating” University at 31
Finishing my studies was a remarkable milestone, because at some point it seemed so dark not having the money to pay for my fees. The college wouldn’t allow me to participate in the graduation ceremony because I owed fees, even though I passed.
But I wasn’t going to let all the sacrifices and hardship be for nothing, I was determined to feel like I achieved my goal and participate the ceremony. Even if it meant doing it my way.
I invited my brother and close friends to attend, looked pretty and attended. Although I wasn’t part of the official ceremony, I asked a friend of mine who had a graduation gown to lend me his so I could take pictures. That is how I celebrated my achievement.
Starring as the Evil Queen in the film “Nkosazane” meaning “Princess”
I got this role miraculously. I hadn’t auditioned for it and there was an actress casted for it already.
It just so happened that the day I texted the producer, she was also looking for someone to replace the other actress. And because we had worked together before on a film titled ISITULO she’d seen me act, she hired me on the spot. Not long after that I got the script, went to set, shot a scene and the deal was sealed.
The Role of Zondani has by far been the most challenging and I thought nothing could beat a role I once played in a film called Royal assegai where I was acting as a Sangoma but no this takes it a few levels higher.
Firstly I had to do my research and I don’t know anyone who is a witch or knows anything about witchcraft. This is something far from me, but I’m glad that Philani Sithebe, the Director of Durban Motion Pictures painted the picture.
He gave creative me freedom when it came to bringing Zondani to life, working hand in hand with wardrobe and make up. All I can say to the viewers is that I am a really sweet lady the one y’all are going to see in this film does not resemble me at all. The film is coming out in October 2018 on Mzansi Magic, Channel 161, look out for it.