"Being validated by external achievements no longer serves me," - Masasa Mbangeni

Masasa Mbangeni
Masasa Mbangeni (Jurie Potgieter)

I’d been nominated a few times for the SAFTAs, and I hadn’t won. The one year, I had gone with my mom, who had sacrificed so much for me when she didn’t have much herself. It reminded me of the times when she’d hire a car and have me taken to the Opera House just so I could make it on time for rehearsals. She’d come all the way from Port Elizabeth to support me, and then I didn’t win. So in 2015, dressed in a red Sylvester Falata number, I went with my then-partner, and mind you we were not in a great space.  

When my name was announced, there was a split-second when I didn’t hear it because I wasn’t sure if they’d really called my name. I remember walking up, and for the first time feeling seen and validated. I even said that in my acceptance speech, thanking them for giving me the chance to be seen, heard, and bearing witness to my work and existence.    

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It showed me that I hadn’t been working and acting in a vacuum. It’s all good and well to act and rehearse in your own space, but acting, like food and love, is best enjoyed when it’s shared. I remember sitting in the same room with so many people that I loved and admired, and finally feeling accepted by everyone who mattered.

In hindsight, now that I’m older and have gone through the inner work that I’ve done, an award shouldn’t have validated me. I should’ve known way before then that I was more than enough, and that nothing outward could complete me unless I was whole on the inside.

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