Isibaya’s golden girl

Her public profile has shot up since the drama-packed telenovela Isibaya hit our screens. Nomzamo Mbatha is well on her way to becoming Mzansi's new 'It girl'

In a day and age when the hottest stars are almost as well known for their bad girl antics as their acting abilities, talented Nomzamo Mbatha’s squeaky-clean image puts paid to that stereotype.

The 23-year-old accounting student is bright and and focused, and is in the final year of her Unisa studies. Nomzamo spends her days shooting Isibaya scenes, and reading through her scripts and study material. She counts charity work as a part-time activity and catching her at a party would be surprising.

Nomzamo is responsible and level-headed and judging by the many comments on her Facebook and Twitter pages, her devoted fans love her all the more for it. The fact that she takes the time to respond to as many comments from her fans as she can, makes Nomzamo even more likeable. Humble and down-to-earth are perfect words to describe this Zulu beauty who is so new to the entertainment industry.

“This has definitely been a surreal experience. It’s been an interesting journey of growth and learning to find my feet in the public eye as well as a young woman in this world. In the past year I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions and challenges, and it’s been wonderful to discover myself in this light,” she says of her sudden rise to fame.

Growing up in KwaMashu township with her grandmother never kept Nomzamo from dreaming big. A bright girl, she did very well at school and went on to study accounting at UCT. But in her final year of study, her creative streak took over, and after auditioning for Thandeka in Isibaya she left the university to act full time.

It was a rewarding move that saw Nomzamo quickly grab the attention of Isibaya viewers and the media. Many regard her as a positive role model and of this responsibility, she admits to being slightly apprehensive.

It was extremely daunting in the beginning because I wanted to do everything perfectly . . . arrive on set knowing every single line in the script, and trying my hardest to not seem juvenile.

“Being a role model is a tough position to be in. People don’t expect you to make mistakes. But in the same light, it’s such a privilege because you can use that position to run campaigns targeted at young girls, while being accessible and relatable to them.

“My main message would be ‘self-love’ and ‘defining your voice in this world’. If a young girl doesn’t love herself for who she is, she will never be able to pursue the things she rightfully deserves in this life. She won’t be able to find a place for her voice and define it in a way that best suits her.”

Acting alongside screen veterans such as Nandi Nyembe ensures Nomzamo is constantly in the company of brilliant talent. She admits that at first she felt the need to work extra hard so as not come across as childish.

“It was extremely daunting in the beginning because I wanted to do everything perfectly . . . arrive on set knowing every single line in the script, and trying my hardest to not seem juvenile. But she [Nandi] was an aunt to me from the get go and just took me under her wing. Siyabonga Thwala remained a father figure on and off screen and has sheltered and mentored me from day one alongside the gorgeous Mampho Brescia who has been an amazing confidant. So – I’ve been babied right through,” she laughs.

Nomzamo counts Basetsana Kumalo, Khanyi Dhlomo and Mamphela Ramphele among her personal role models so it’s easy to see why entrepreneurship is top of her agenda.

“My short term goals are to register my own company and foundation by the end of the year and start a nationwide campaign dealing with youth development and socio-economic issues. I’d also love to star in a film that will tell a story about my country and my continent. Hopefully I’ll be able to do an MBA in the next few years too,” adds Nomzamo.

Success is clearly on the cards for this rising star. Although she declines to comment on impending projects, it has been widely reported that she is set to join a major soapie on SABC soon. This would catapult her to even greater heights and cement her place in the entertainment industry.

Yet despite having such a bright future to look forward to, Nomzamo’s humility shines through. Her personal motto is simple: “To stay humble and true to who I am at all times and never to allow external voices to be louder than my inner voice of reason. The greatest lesson I learnt was to keep my head down and let my work speak for itself.”