Lo­cal celeb – Linda Mtoba

Fa­mous as Zama Ng­wenya on Isi­baya, LINDA MTOBA, 25, tells us about mar­riage, fame and switch­ing from teach­ing to act­ing.

True Love - - News - By PHILA TYEKANA

Mzansi Magic’s te­len­ov­ela, Isi­baya, brought a new ta­lent to our screens in March 2016: Linda Mtoba. She plays Zama, a mem­ber of the no­to­ri­ous Ng­wenya fam­ily and the trou­ble­some daugh­ter of in­fa­mous taxi boss Ju­das, played by the renowned Menzi Ngubane.

Hers is an overnight suc­cess story. Linda quit her job as a part-time pri­mary school teacher in Dur­ban af­ter a friend made her au­di­tion for a ta­lent search by Bomb Pro­duc­tions. She also dropped her third-year stud­ies in mar­ket­ing man­ag­ment for Isi­baya. “My friend Nom­buso prac­ti­cally bul­lied me to fill in the au­di­tion form, say­ing that if I didn’t, our friend­ship would be over. I did as I was told and went for the au­di­tion, and the rest is his­tory!” says the KZN-based ac­tress.

She lives in Dur­ban with her hus­band and fam­ily, and flies to Joburg when she has scenes to film for Isi­baya. She tells us more about her dear friend: “My friend­ship with Nom­buso is amaz­ing. We sup­port each other and have known each other for al­most 10 years now. She saw some­thing in me that I didn’t be­fore, that I’m now dis­cov­er­ing and en­joy­ing to the fullest.”

An ac­tress for just over a year, Linda has im­pressed many and has gar­nered a 200 000 fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia. Her char­ac­ter, Zama, suf­fers from a heart con­di­tion and aban­doned her fam­ily in the name of love. She grabbed view­ers’ at­ten­tion, and last year The Sowe­tan in­cluded her on their ‘Mzansi’s Sex­i­est’ list. She also won Best New­comer at the Si­mon Mab­hunu Sa­bela Film and Tele­vi­sion Awards. In a sea of amaz­ing lo­cal ac­tresses, what does Linda feel she brings to the ta­ble? “I’m not here to be any­one else.

“I NEVER MIS­TAKE HAP­PI­NESS FOR PER­FEC­TION: IT’S ABOUT BE­ING CON­TENT AND RE­AL­IS­ING LIFE IS GREAT. ”

Act­ing is like a love story; it started out of nowhere, and I’m here to en­joy the jour­ney in dis­cov­er­ing new things. I’m here to bring magic, which is my­self.”

Al­though she’s en­joy­ing her new­found fame, it has its dark side. “My skin had to grow that much thicker,” says Linda. “Some­one you don’t know feels en­ti­tled to say what­ever they want about you. As much as peo­ple may say that crit­i­cism comes with this ca­reer, words hurt. But it’s just a few peo­ple; most are friendly and sup­port­ive.”

De­spite the neg­a­tiv­ity, Linda has a happy out­look on life. Go­ing through her In­sta­gram page, @lin­da_m­toba, life seems per­fect for the star: she’s got the looks and style, has achieved overnight suc­cess, and mar­ried the love of her life ear­lier this year. “Hap­pi­ness is some­thing that comes from within,” she says. “We our­selves have to cre­ate it. It can’t be given to you. I al­ways ask my­self if it will mat­ter in a year. If it doesn’t, I don’t bother my­self with it. I never mis­take hap­pi­ness for per­fec­tion: it’s about be­ing con­tent and re­al­is­ing life is great, re­gard­less of how bad your day was.”

Linda mar­ried her hus­band in March, and posted im­ages from the tra­di­tional cer­e­mony on In­sta­gram, then jet­ted off on a lav­ish Euro­pean hon­ey­moon. But mar­riage hasn’t changed their love: “We have a very strong foun­da­tion so be­ing mar­ried so­lid­i­fies that. We’ve been to­gether for six years. I said yes be­cause I love him. There’s no ver­sion of my life that makes sense with­out him.”

She wants to keep some pri­vacy in her re­la­tion­ship, how­ever, so she doesn’t like to say too much about her hus­band or her pri­vate life in in­ter­views. What makes the mar­riage work, she says, is con­sis­tency, re­spect, time, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and for­give­ness – be­cause all those things are acts of love.

Fame has changed life for Linda. She tells of an in­ci­dent at the air­port, when a fan knocked on the cu­bi­cle while she was in the loo, ask­ing for a photo with her!

Is fame what she had ex­pected? “To some de­gree yes, but also not. Most peo­ple are friendly, and I ap­pre­ci­ate every­one who recog­nises my ta­lent. I’d like to think that I’m real and open. I’m not cre­at­ing a façade – this is who I am ev­ery day. So I feel fans can see that too.”

Isi­baya has changed her life in other ways. “I now know I can act and cry on cue,” she says. Be­ing the new ‘it’ girl doesn’t mat­ter to her. “In my eyes, every­one is an ‘it’ girl or per­son. It is any­one who im­me­di­ately makes you smile, or brings about ad­mi­ra­tion.”

Linda loves how she’s grown as an ac­tress play­ing Zama – who has had some dra­matic times on screen. She’s run away from home, had a heart trans­plant, been bit­ten by a snake, and got caught in a shootout. Play­ing all the drama is that much more fun for Linda.

Re­call­ing her first day on set, she says: “I was a mess – my heart was beat­ing so fast that the mi­cro­phone had to be taken off my chest, be­cause they could hear it. But I work with amaz­ing peo­ple; each time I fum­bled, they were so ac­com­mo­dat­ing and pa­tient. Beauty (Thuli Tha­bethe), Iris (Mam­pho Bres­cia), Jabu (Pal­lance Dladla) and a few more were with me in that first scene. I’m in awe of their ta­lent and learn from them ev­ery day.” For now, she says, she is con­cen­trat­ing on Zama, but she’d love to ven­ture into pre­sent­ing and films. How did her par­ents feel when she moved from be­ing a teacher to act­ing? “My mom is great,” says this el­der of two sib­lings. “She fol­lows me on all my so­cial me­dia and is ex­tremely sup­port­ive, like my en­tire fam­ily. My mom calls me out when Zama’s done some­thing bad. Noth­ing’s changed at home, which I’m grate­ful for.”

Linda’s par­ents were never mar­ried, and her dad passed away when she was 12. She was raised by her grand­mother, aunt and grand­fa­ther, and she ap­plauds her step­fa­ther for tak­ing on the role of dad.

“Ev­ery­thing I do now comes from a place of love – be­cause of my up­bring­ing, which over­flowed with love. I won’t do any­thing I don’t have a con­nec­tion with. I’m able to recog­nise love as an adult, be­cause I was brought up with it.”

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