JESSICA NKOSI, 28, lifts the lid on the new and love-filled chapter she’s about to start. In an exclusive tell-all interview, she shares why she decided to celebrate this milestone in private, as well as her latest career move.
impatience your problem.” Jessica also reflects on how being in the public eye can sometimes rob one of the opportunity to truly celebrate the most remarkable events in their life.
She completely understands that, as a public figure, people will always feel entitled to her personal affairs. This time around, she wanted to only talk when she was ready, to minimise the period of prying about her due date. “There’s nothing scandalous about my pregnancy, therefore I don’t want any drama around it and I certainly don’t want anyone to have an opinion about it. I wanted to enjoy it privately and make this a joyous period for me and my family,” she says. Even so, she casually mentions that she’s due in September and that she’s expecting a girl.
Jessica’s still brainstorming the third baby name. After that, she’ll discuss the options with her partner and the father of her unborn child, businessman and actor Ntokozo Dlamini. Her almost two-year-long relationship with the Uzalo actor is another area of her life she’s chosen to shield from the public. “It’s not that I’m ashamed of him. I absolutely adore him, but I really just want to have my relationship to myself. And this is why you’ll never see a picture of him on any of my social media accounts. He’s welcome to put up my pictures but with a star over my face,” she says. She’s realised how letting the public into one’s romantic relationship can easily create expectations. “People feel entitled to updates when you start posting pictures of your partner accompanied by intimate captions,” she explains.
Besides, fame has taught her that private moments are more meaningful when celebrated in seclusion. She’s also learned when something is for show, it loses its significance as you’re likely to start focusing more on what people are going to say. “If something ’s genuine, it immediately places you in a happy place. You start living by your own rules. And this is what I strive for — pure happiness,” she enthuses.
On a more joyous note, the elated mom- to-be shares an anecdote of how she’s always trying to figure out, at every 4D scan, who the baby looks like. But it was too early to tell at her last appointment. She’s heard that girls always come out looking like their dads, which she’s completely fine with. “My partner is goodlooking. I know I chose well but our daughter must just not inherit that Dlamini nose,” she says, shortly before breaking into an animated giggle.
PERCEPTION VS REALITY
Nothing paints a picture-perfect and almost dreamy perception of pregnancy quite like TV. It also doesn’t help that women mostly romanticise pregnancy and motherhood, creating the perception the journey should always be textbook perfect. Jessica agrees. “Pregnancy is difficult! My perceptions about it were completely different to what I experienced in the first five months. At some point, I felt lied to, because I had expected pregnancy to be a walk in the park,” she says. She literally camped out at a hospital’s emergency ward. “I was as sick as a dog — I couldn’t eat, was losing weight rapidly and had a uterus infection that worsened my nausea and caused severe headaches and a stiff neck,” she says.
The actress also experienced a major scare when doctors discovered the baby wasn’t growing well, but the results from the scores of prenatal tests eventually eased her stress. Hearing specialists utter the words, “The worst scenario would be a medical termination,” made her pray like she’d never prayed before. She describes this as a dire period in her life, one that was characterised by her almost losing faith in God. “I won’t sugarcoat it, I had a horrible start to my pregnancy. Usually when I pray, I write down my prayers, thoughts and what I feel God’s trying to convey to me. I listen to YouTube sermons and gospel music but stopped doing all of this spiritual work because it felt like God was punishing me. I felt like He could’ve made my pregnancy journey a pleasurable one but instead put me through the complete opposite,” she recalls.
As her health improved, she started dragging herself to church and now her relationship with God is back on track. “The biggest lesson to come out of that horrid chapter was that if I could survive that bad patch, I can survive anything that is thrown my way,” she reflects.
With some of the main pregnancy woes gone, she says she can live with the lifestyle adjustments she’s had to make. “My baby decided she’s not a fan of meat and burgers,” she says. This is somewhat of a punishment for meat-loving Jessica. “I learnt quite early on that pregnancy’s not as glamorous as TV makes it out to be. I haven’t had any cravings, just random episodes of insomnia between 02h00 and 04h30,” she laughs. But instead of sulking about this disruption in sleep, she’s pegged it down to God making her more alert so as to prepare her for the sleepless nights ahead, the highly spiritual actress says.
MORE THAN READY FOR MOTHERHOOD
Now that she’s feeling on top of the world again, she fantasises about how she’s going to raise her daughter. What keeps her up at night, though, is deciding which parenting philosophy to employ in raising her daughter to be an intelligent and upstanding member of society. She wishes parenting could come with a detailed manual from heaven. However, that isn’t the case. “Is there one perfect style of parenting? Do other moms wing it or do they walk into parenting with a foolproof plan? Do I read a lot of books or do I follow the same parenting style my parents used? I’d like to believe I turned out pretty well. I guess it boils down to showering children with love and the truth. My late dad raised me purely on love. Not once did he lay his hands on me and he was always interested in how I felt and what I wanted for myself,” she says.
Jessica also intends to get her parenting guidance from the Bible. “I went to a Catholic primary school and believe a Christian upbringing did more good than harm,” she explains. Ultimately, like any other mother, she wants to afford her daughter the best opportunities and hopes she will go on to be a game-changer in whatever sphere of life she goes into. “I pray God guides me to raise her in a way that will lead to her living out her purpose.”
Determined to have the perfect motherdaughter relationship, she’s already started bargaining with her little ray of sunshine on a few matters. “I hope my baby behaves. I asked her from the get-go to be kind to my face because I work with it. I can’t afford to have an inflated nose, a rash or a dark neck — due to hormones — because of the industry I work in.” She’s even asked God to intervene in keeping her face intact, saying she acknowledges her prayers may be a tad selfish but she justifies it with, “God said we must bring all our troubles before Him so this is me doing exactly that.”
Jokes aside, she’s already learning that motherhood is an ongoing act of selflessness, saying she surprises herself by first running to the kiddies’ section every time she walks into a clothing store. “You need to understand, whenever I had a bit of extra money, I would buy whatever item of clothing I’d been eyeing for a while,” she says. But all of that has changed, she says.
MAKING NEW MOVES
Jessica is lucky to have a stable job in the form of Isibaya, which is a long-running soapie. Her endorsement deal as Clinique South Africa’s ambassador is still ongoing, although she hasn’t worked on anything lately. In some cases, she had to let go of certain projects that were already in the pipeline. For instance, she had a sports deal she’d bagged but had to postpone indefinitely. “I was happy for them to put the plans on ice because I refuse to put myself under pressure to snap back within a month of giving birth,” she explains.
If there is one consistent factor about Jessica, it’s that she’s always dressed to the nines. However, during the sickly phase of her pregnancy, she lived in tracksuits and sweatpants for comfort — and she plans to compensate for this by being a yummy mummy. “I’m not bothered by people who assume that dolled-up moms can’t possibly be good mothers. I’ll wake up an hour early to fix myself and then prepare the baby, if I have to,” she says. Jessica will enjoy three months of maternity leave from the end of June. She intends to spend most of that time in Esikhawini in KwaZulu-Natal, where she will be initiated into motherhood by her mom. “When I asked my mom if could move back home temporarily, her answer was a resounding, ‘Yes of course; that’s not open for discussion!’ I want to be mothered while I learn how to mother.” She’ll be missing in action until January 2019.
Jessica plans to use her time off from Isibaya to officially launch the Jessica Nkosi Foundation, a passion project that supports learners from underprivileged schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal with uniforms. She remembers a bedroom suite her late dad had bought her, on which he’d stuck a newspaper cutout with a highlighted quote that read, “They can take everything from you but education.” The idea of a foundation was inspired by her dad’s love for education. “I don’t want a big media spectacle around the foundation’s initiatives. I just care about keeping children in school,” she explains. Her plan is to get children with no uniform, who walk long distances barefoot on gravel roads, to look good and confident so they can then be eager to learn. “I doubt a child whose school uniform is incomplete or doesn’t look like that of their peers would make getting an education their priority,” she adds.
Coming back to the subject of motherhood, we ask if she plans to have more children. Her response is a rather theatrical, “Ha wema! I’d have to hurry up because I don’t plan to have kids after 30,” she concludes