He might be 120cm tall, but after spending a few minutes with Themba Ntuli (20), “the little boy” in Vodacom’s Latest Advert, you soon forget about his height and see him for the outgoing and confident young man that he is.
He is in a talkative mood when we meet him at a restaurant in Auckland, Johannesburg. He has already charmed half the people in restaurant who recognise him from the advert.
How does he deal with all the attention from strangers since he appeared in the Vodacom advert? “I don’t mind just as long as they don’t take it too far” he says with a laugh.
“I am used it by now. It goes back to when I first started in Rhythm City, when I was in Grade 11. When people meet me, they soon see past my height and get to know me for who I am”.
The Advert might have introduced him to a new audience, but the 20-year-old from Valoorus in the Johannesburg, is no newcomer in the local entertainment industry. Besides staring in numerous TV and radio advertisements, including for Sunlight and SABC 2, he has also appeared in Rhythm City, Soul Buddyz and Shaka Zulu the Musical to name but a few.
Where it all started:
“I began acting while I was at Primrose Primary School. I played Lord Farquaad in a school production of Shrek and that’s when the acting bug really caught. Being on that stage gave confidence and pride that I did not have before. It helped me come out of my shell.”
Themba is a far cry from the shy little boy who was teased about his height ten years ago. “It is sad but true, kids will always tease when they have something to tease about. I probably teased other kids as well but not to the extent that people teased me growing up”.
Themba credits his parents Kenneth and Nokuthula Ntuli for making him the grounded and responsible person that he is today. Themba unlike many celebrities and people his age does not frequent Clubs and pubs. He would much rather spend his time in church. “My parents are very religious. The instilled a sense of respect, discipline and a love of God in me and my brothers”.
“They came to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t grow any taller. There is nothing wrong with me; I am completely healthy, just a little shorter than most people. I have two younger brothers, Zathemba (17) and Msizi (15), who are taller than me. It isn’t fair but hey, I have gotten over it. I know my parents are very proud of me. As the first born son, I try to set a good example for my brothers”.
Challenges a blessing:
It is obvious that the many difficulties that Themba has faced have been a blessing rather than a curse. They have after all helped him to become the man that he is today.
All the challenges gave him the motivation to succeed he says. He career has insured that he can afford to pay for his own Varsity fees. “My parents’ job is to take care of my brothers. Financially, I can take of myself. I still go ho home whenever I can but I spend most of my time in Auckland Park since I go to school here”.
Themba is doing his second year at the Africa Film and Drama Academy. The aspiring film maker counts Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolen as just some of his favourite Directors. “I wish I had done Inception (Christopher Nolen), the cinematography in that movie is amazing. I love all Steven Spielberg movies. Locally I love Amy Allais and Amanda Lane. I worked with Amy when we did the Vodacom ad and it was a lot of fun working with her. She has so much energy”.
“One of my high school teachers first suggested that I should consider studying film making because he thought that I was a natural born actor and had an eye for talent” Themba says proudly. “Film school is hectic but I want to learn as much about what happens behind the scenes as I can. We have to do five, five-minute films this year which is quit challenging but I am looking forward to it. I also do script writing which is great because it gives me a platform to put my ideas on paper. I love Film making because it allows you to see the world from a different point of view”.
You would be forgiven for thinking that his Height might make dating a little tricky for Themba, but he assures us that it doesn’t at all. “I mean you get those girls who are like, they don’t do short, but that’s their loss. Dating is about connecting with and being able to talk with the person you are with”.
“Besides I have never had any difficulty kissing. My girlfriend can bend over when they give me my good morning or goodbye kiss and if that does not work we can always find a podium for me to stand on” he adds with a laugh.
Themba is however single right now. “When you have a girlfriend, they require a lot of time and attention which I just don’t have at the moment. I am concentrating on loving Themba right now” he says seriously.
What’s next in line for the talented actor? Any best Actor and Director Oscars in the Pipeline. “I am not doing anything at the moment my concentration is completely my school work. If I was acting it would probably divert my attention and my school work would suffer as a result”.
When we tell him that we are done with the interview, he looks at me incredulously. “Is that it, I still have so much to tell” he says in that playful and easy manner that he has displayed throughout the interview.
A natural born actor he certainly is.
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