ACCEPTING MY NEW REALITY
“As a public figure there’s a lot of expectations from fans, especially when you portray sweet characters like the one I currently play on Rhythm City. I’ve grown so much since playing Mampho. Even my character is now getting into her own and moving away from the shadows. However, people don’t expect you to have negative moments, so I feel I have to be nice all the time. I don’t notice the stares or people looking at me when I’m out, until someone actually grabs me. I think it affects my family and friends more because they see it more than I do.
Being on television so young from the YO-TV days, I was jealous of how my friends were so carefree and didn’t have to worry about being judged. I always had to check myself and I never gave myself permission to be a kid. I had an amazing childhood with my brother and my cousin who moved in with us when her mom passed away, so she’s my sister. I was always an energetic child and hyper.
Growing up was lovely because I had lot of kids around me and was the leader of the pack. Even adults adored and coo-ed over me. Life was easy then. The challenges of concentrating and then being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) only came as I got older. I’m more aware of my illness now as an adult. I don’t deny who I am because I deal with it. But sadly you can’t win either way, whether on medication or not, because there’s the stuggle with things like admin and having a daily routine. I miss the times when my mom used to enforce structure in my life and made sure I had a schedule. That made sure I was a productive person.
But now I know my abilities and inabilities and have come to terms with them. I know I’m a great creative and good with putting together concepts. I’m a visual person – paperwork bores me. I didn’t want to seem not normal before, but now I’m comfortable with that. I don’t want to be on medication all the time and there are some areas I function better without it, and there are those that I don’t. I need it to balance sides. The funny thing though, when I was on YO-TV I couldn’t fit in with other kids. They thought I was weird because I got along better with adults, which was the exact opposite of life at home and in my community. I think with the personality I have, I was meant to be this popular person. The truth is I’m actually a shy introvert but having ADHD made it easy and fun to be on screen. The only problem with the disorder is that you can’t seem to weigh how much energy is actually needed for a certain task so you give more than needed most of the time, which is why everyone thinks I’m a forever-happy person. I officially got diagnosed when I was 16, and as I got older it was the hyperactivity that got to people. It’s fine as a kid to love to talk but not be talkative all the time. Not concentrating in class, teachers got frustrated with me. In primary school, my principal had told my parents that she thought I might have ADHD since she had dealt with a lot of kids, but you know how black parents are with mental issues, they weren’t buying it. They thought I was naughty and needed to grow up. That affected me a lot because I knew I was not well, but I didn’t know who to turn to.
Things got really bad in high school, I was never an ‘A’ student but had the potential to be. I did quite well for a child who had ADHD. My marks dropped drastically from what I used to get in primary. In high school you need to be self-motivated to a certain extent, and my parents weren’t going to do the work for me. They expected me to be like other kids and be able to handle my own homework and assignments. I procrastinated and needed a schedule in order to complete tasks.
I became very impulsive and had a lot of anger and resentment towards the world. I started acting out and when it got to a point where I was fighting with a lot of my friends, that’s when my parents figured something was up. Finally, they realised that I needed help. I was put on Ritalin and people always asked me if I was okay as I became quiet and mellow. That was one of the side-effects of being on medication – it changes your feelings. But strange enough a lot of people seemed to like me better when I was on medication.
I felt a bit off on Ritalin, like I wasn’t me. And this had me wondering who I was without this pill. I knew I needed it in order to function properly, but surely there was another way to do it? I was always blaming myself for things and thought if I worked harder or if I wasn’t so talkative, maybe things would be different. But ADHD is an illness and you can’t control how you behave. It took a long time for me to understand that it wasn’t my fault. I’ve always known that I’d work in film and television. I knew I was going to be good at it so after high school I pursued my dream. I signed up at AFDA and also auditioned for Rhythm City. When they hired me, my work schedule started clashing with school so I left AFDA.
This was in 2012. I told myself that I’d go back to school someday. Now I want to study sound engineering because of my love for music. My mom used to play her golden oldies CDs a lot when I was in pre-school and so I grew up enjoying singing and I was good at it too!