Actress, Samela Tyelbooi, spreads her wings

By Faeza
25 April 2017

SAMELA Tyelbooi (35) is one of the few actresses in the entertainment industry who nails almost every character they portray. The Grahamstown-born actress has an impressive acting career, having appeared in television productions such as Generations, Rhythm City, Intsika, 4 Play: Sex Tips for Girls, Society and It’s Complicated. She shares with Move! her journey in the entertainment industry.


She says she fell in love with the dramatic arts from a very young age. She got her first role as a supporting actor on Generations. “It was in 2006 and I had only been in Johannesburg for four months. I didn’t have experience, but I worked very hard to get the role,” she says. She got a chance to shine and make a name for herself when she got the leading role in the drama series, Society, playing Lois Gumede. “I was part of Society for

three seasons and this was my biggest role. It was very exciting for me because the show was popular and I got to work with the most experienced actors. I was enthusiastic and scared at the same time, but I gave it my all because I had to do justice to the role.”

With 11 years in the industry, Samela says the biggest highlights of her career are being part of Society, It’s Complicated and being nominated for the Best Supporting Actress in this year’s SAFTAs.


She, however, says there are some challenges along the way in her journey. “Not every production is the same. I had to find a way to tell every story differently and that is very challenging,” she says. She adds, “Another challenge in this industry is that most of the actors in Mzansi are freelancers, meaning that there is no security or consistency when it comes to our jobs. I always have to find a way to manage that, but I wouldn’t trade acting for anything. I love it so much.” She says what she loves the most about her craft is the fact that she is able to get through people’s emotions and having to do things that she wouldn’t

do as the real Samela. She says she has also witnessed some changes in the industry.

“The industry has grown so much. The storylines are exciting and there are more opportunities for actors. This is amazing,” she says. “Social media is powerful. Nowadays, getting a job is influenced by how popular you are on social media.”


She is now working on an upcoming drama series called Maseko Ties. “I’m excited about the project as it's the first time that I’m co-directing a drama series,” she says. Samela is mother to an 18-year-old girl. “Being a mother is stressful, yet rewarding. I always strive to be a good mother to my daughter. I want her to be proud of me as she is the centre of

my life,” she says.