She didn’t plan on becoming a mom. She feared having saggy breasts and a body full of stretch marks and there was just too much uncertainty to bring a life into this world, she believed.
But then Andrea Dondolo’s little bundle of joy arrived as she was nearing 40 – and he has changed her life in so many ways. In fact, Kuyintando (2) has given her a new lease of life, the actress who plays Bongi in The Queen tells us.
It was because of her little boy that she decided to lose some weight. She’s lost 15kg over the past year using a combination of exercise, diet and a detox plan. “I wanted to be there for my son and live longer and I had to choose a healthy lifestyle to do that,” the 40-year-old says.
She didn’t want her son to be embarrassed. “I want to be involved in his life and be active. But with a bigger body it wasn’t possible. I was always fatigued and I couldn’t play with him the way I do now.” Andrea had a few embarrassing weight-related moments over the years.
“I remember my first day shooting The Queen. They had asked for my sizes and it turned out I had given the wardrobe the wrong sizes. I told them I was a size 44 but I was actually bigger. The lady was upset but I realised what my size really was.”
Andrea now watches what she eats – she’s cut out 90% of the carbs she used to eat and also reduced her salt intake. She also started doing park runs and other outdoor exercises. All for her beautiful boy.
A DREAM COME TO LIFE
It’s hard to believe at some point Andrea didn’t want to have a child. Apart from the physical effects, she didn’t want to be a single mom. “I’ve always thought if I decided to have a child the father must be present,” says the actress best known for her role as Nandi in SABC1’s Home Affairs.
“Since I couldn’t control that, I thought I was okay with not having children.” Being an actress, with all the uncertainty of the entertainment industry, was also a factor. “It scared me that our industry is unpredictable. And that we don’t have medical aid, pension or maternity leave. “We think about fame, the glitz and the glam. We don’t know all the other things until we’re in the industry.”
She says actors are scared to speak out because they might not be cast again. “No one wants to disrupt the status quo as someone might think you’re directing your comments to them.” But things changed about six years ago. Andrea was head of the arts and culture section of The Motsepe Foundation’s Khayelitsha organisation, which was formed after billionaire Patrice Motsepe announced he’d be donating half of his family’s wealth to the foundation.
The actress received a message from one of the committee members, telling her she’d had a dream that Andrea was with a cute little boy. “Shortly after that another colleague told me she’d had a similar dream of me with a baby boy. “I then had a dream of me in the car with two ladies and a little boy. An Indian lady was in the car playing with the child, and then she dropped him.
“I was so angry that she dropped my child,” she says as tears fill her eyes. “You see I still tear up talking about this.” Andrea believed the universe was telling her something so she drove to the Eastern Cape, where she grew up, to meditate. “I didn’t tell anyone why I was home. I went to the kraal and to the graveyard to speak to my ancestors.” She decided to do whatever her ancestors demanded. “I told them if this is what they want, I would surrender. But I wanted my child to have an intact identity and to have both parents present.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
After returning to Cape Town, where she was living at the time, Andrea decided to give the man who’d been courting her for six years a chance. “We found each other and fell in love.” The pair started dating in earnest and later planned the pregnancy.
“After trying for months to conceive, he told me to consult a gynaecologist. And that’s when I found out my tubes were blocked.” She had a procedure to fix the issue and conceived a few months later. The couple have since broken up and she doesn’t want to reveal anything about him or his involvement in their lives.
But she doesn’t have any regrets because their relationship resulted in her beautiful baby boy. She’s also comfortable with being single – she was alone for a long time before meeting her child’s father, after all. “I remember when I was pregnant he reminded me that he’s never chased a woman for so long.”
She’s more productive when she’s single, Andrea says. “I think I fall in love too deep. I even ignore my dreams to support the man, which is a common thing women do.” Now she can focus on building a future for her and Kuyintando.
In addition to acting, Andrea is also a neurolinguistic programming life coach who focuses on self-awareness and personal growth. She’s also selling the products that helped her to lose weight, which taught her a few lessons about being humble. “I’m trained to be a star.
People come to me, I don’t go to them. But this business has taught me to do the opposite. I had to swallow my pride for the wellness of my child. “I want to leave my son a legacy.” Yet she doesn’t want him to follow in her acting footsteps, she says. Her cousin Odwa Shweni fell to his death while shooting a short film, which jolted Andrea. His body was found the following day below the Sterkspruit Waterfall in the Drakensberg, City Press reported.
“He had two daughters and a wife. The saddest thing is he was doing a passion project.” Kuyintando expanded her thinking, she says. “He made me realise I’m bigger than just an actress and a public speaker. I’m a mother and I have responsibilities now. I have so much love to give.”