She had to develop a thick skin. When she was younger, she was sometimes ridiculed because she was poor.
Those experiences helped her become who she is now, Scandal! actress Lusanda Mbane says.
Now, she uses those experiences and her fame to make sure other children don't have to suffer like she did.
She believes in empowering young people to be the best versions of themselves and not succumb to peer pressure.
When she is not on set playing the deviously manipulative Boniswa Langa, she is doing philanthropic work with her foundation, Zazi Zithande Zithembe.
“If I allowed the mean things people said to me back then [to get to me], I would have never achieved half of the things I have achieved. I was raised by a single mother who made it her mission that school things were always a priority.
"A lot of kids in rural schools need the most basic things and I want to do my best to make sure that I work on their minds so that they are not too affected by what other kids are saying about them.
“I want kids to know that their beginnings do not have to define their endings. When they have potential, they must be bold and confident and not allow anyone or anything to make them feel like they are not enough or that they are not capable,” she says.
She speaks to Drum as she is travelling to the Eastern Cape where she is making donations to H.H. Majiza Senior Secondary School, a school in Keiskammahoek.
At the beginning of lockdown, she says, she came across a video of singing school kids on social media and she connected with them emotionally. She grew up in Gcuwa, Eastern Cape.
“Oh! they were singing so beautifully, but I think what made them even more special is that they were singing my mother’s favourite hymn and that just took me back to my childhood. I posted a video asking if people know where the school is because I would like to visit them with my mother so they can sing it for her when lockdown restrictions have been lifted, so here we are.”
After another social media post, Lusanda has managed to get sponsorship which means that together with the food parcels and school uniforms she will be donating, she’ll also be able to refurbish the school toilets.
“You can only do so much on your own. I could have bought food out of my own money and taken that to them and it would have been enough, but why not do more by reaching out to other people who want to give but do not have the platform? I am very excited because the bigger the contribution we will be making, the bigger the impact for those children and that is exactly what the foundation wants to do, change lives.”
Now a mother of two, Lusanda wants her children to know that service is a state of being.
“Because sometimes the work of the foundation takes away some of the time I could be spending with my kids, I sometimes feel guilty, then I remember the lesson they can take from this, which is the value of service. I do not want the world; I just want to be comfortable.
"I have realized that the more I give, is the more I have. I want to encourage mine and other kids to define their own paths, to know that you do not need millions to help. You can help with what you have and do so passionately,” she says.