Actress Zandile Lujabe on life after Isidingo and starring in Netflix film African America

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Zandile Lujabe stars in the latest South African Netflix film, African America.
Zandile Lujabe stars in the latest South African Netflix film, African America.
Zandile Lujabe.

She believes that life should be lived in the moment. She pursues her dreams with the fierce determination her parents taught her and she never gives up, a lesson she learnt from working in the entertainment industry. 

Zandile Lujabe is a familiar face. She's starred in various productions including her breakout role in Mzansi Magic’s drama, Ayeye.

She was born in Zimbabwe to South African parents who were in exile, spent a few years in Australia but later moved back to South Africa where her parents had settled in Mafikeng.

“I was very creative growing up and I would get emotional whenever I witnessed a performance whether it was singing, dancing or acting. I enjoyed school plays in high school but I played in a music band because I was too shy to act until I recognised that you live once. I decided to study acting and I auditioned to multiple acting schools in Australia, and I got accepted.”

Zandile graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in acting for screen and stage at the Charles Sturt University in Sydney, Australia. She also completed a course on acting for camera at the New York Film Academy.

Although she had international qualifications, she still had to be patient when she started auditioning for roles as she just wasn't getting any jobs. But when she was on the brink of giving up, she got her breakthrough role on Ayeye.

“I auditioned for two years straight and I never landed anything. The industry requires you to have a lot of self-belief and not give up. Some people take longer to break into the industry, Ayeye was my first paying professional acting job that I ever did. From there the roles kept on coming.”

She played Palesa on SABC 3 soapie Isidingo before the show was canned by the broadcaster and like many of the cast members, she was heartbroken.

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“I loved being on the show, and I enjoyed playing the character. After Isidingo I landed new roles and I am currently working on an exciting project. I can't say much about it right now.”

She has started her own school, African Acting Academy, and she aims to educate and empower young African people who have hopes of making it in film and television.

“I am working on workshops that will be happening soon. When Isidingo ended, I saw the opportunity to develop something of my own because as actors it can be hard to find work. I started building up my academy profile.’”

Zandile also stars in a Netflix film titled ‘African America’ which premiered on 23 July. The film is directed by Muzi Mthembu.

The movie is about a South African woman who leaves her fiancé and embezzles money from her job to pursue her dream of being a Broadway star in New York.

“I play Phindi and I’m the best friend to the lead, Nompumelelo. I'm proud of being a part of this project. I love the themes portrayed in the film about the narrative of black people. I love that it is told by South Africans.

“I am going through my biggest growth in life right now. I have learnt that you must be flexible, and you have to make mistakes in order to learn. Don’t be afraid to be laughed at if you make mistakes it's usually people who have momentary embarrassment that make it far in life.”

When she's not giving life to characters on our screens, Zandile is a painter who has decorated her entire house with personal paintings and says that she enjoys the calmness and peace it brings her.

She is very private when it comes to her personal life and says she treasures her off screen moments.

“I have learnt to accept that life is not a dress rehearsal. Everything that happens in life you have one chance to do. It's important to take massive risks in love, in life and in your spiritual life. These are always beneficial to you as an individual.”

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