Nandi Mbatha on Isithem­biso and anx­i­ety

Isithem­biso’s Nandi Mbatha tells DRUM about play­ing Simi, cop­ing with anx­i­ety dis­or­der and how she ended up ‘dat­ing a fan’


BE­ING an ac­tress in a hit TV show means you’re of­ten recog­nised wher­ever you go and even pop­ping out for gro­ceries can mean be­ing stared at and mobbed by fans.

It goes with the ter­ri­tory and Nandi Mbatha knows that – but she bat­tles with it. The fresh-faced 22-year-old beauty, who plays Simi on the Mzansi Magic te­len­ov­ela Isithem­biso, suf­fers from anx­i­ety and of­ten can’t cope when she’s in crowds.

She was di­ag­nosed with the dis­or­der 10 years ago and for the most part has learnt how to han­dle it.

Nandi sits down with DRUM – her first mag­a­zine in­ter­view ever, she tells us – to share how she deals with it and how she’s mak­ing a name for her­self in the fish­bowl world of en­ter­tain­ment.


Her anx­i­ety is of­ten trig­gered by stress and “be­ing in en­closed spa­ces, like lifts and on flights”. “If I’m in a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion I take Res­cue Rem­edy pills to calm me down,” she says. “I take them at least three times a week.” But the best medicine is to avoid places where her anx­i­ety could flare up. “I don’t go to the shops with­out pre­par­ing my­self men­tally. I have to be in a happy mood and then I’ll stock up so I don’t have to go to the shops again for a while.” She once had a panic at­tack while film­ing a scene on a rooftop, she ad­mits. “Luck­ily the crew knew of my sit­u­a­tion and gave me Res­cue Rem­edy. But I have my anx­i­ety un­der con­trol now and I’m live­lier than be­fore I started act­ing. “I used to be very quiet and re­served and peo­ple would think I was ar­ro­gant, but I was just shy.”


Au­di­tion­ing for the role of Simi was her first foray into en­ter­tain­ment. “I had a few mod­el­ling jobs af­ter school and a few ad­verts, noth­ing ma­jor. When I read about the au­di­tions for Isithem­biso on so­cial me­dia, I jumped at it. I ar­rived wear­ing black and white shorts and an ugly white blouse and san­dals,” she re­calls with a laugh. She was the last per­son to au­di­tion and had to kiss Za­mani Mbatha, who

plays Za­mani on the show.

“The en­tire thing is a blur to me, but I re­mem­ber be­ing told to im­pro­vise and then kiss Za­mani at the end. He’d been kiss­ing girls the whole day at the au­di­tions, so he was fine – I was the one who was nervous.”


It was only af­ter the au­di­tion that the two found out they share the same sur­name and it was quite a shock, Nandi says. “You know how it is in Zulu cul­ture – peo­ple who share the same sur­name are usu­ally from the same clan and they’re re­lated.”

But af­ter get­ting to know each other and do­ing a lit­tle digging, it turned out their shared sur­name was pure coincidenc­e and Nandi breathed a sigh of relief.

“My dad is a very tra­di­tional Zulu man and he wouldn’t have been happy if we were re­lated.”

Her fam­ily has been su­per sup­port­ive of her, she adds. Her teacher mom, Zandile, and dad Mduduzi, a mag­is­trate, are her big­gest fans. Her sis­ters, ac­coun­tant Pamella (33) and mar­ket­ing stu­dent Azanda (21), are pro­tec­tive of their sis and tell peo­ple not to be­lieve the gos­sip they read about her.

Not long ago Nandi was ru­moured to be dat­ing Za­mani. “Oh no, never,” she says. “Za­mani is my friend. We’re like brother and sis­ter, and he knows al­most ev­ery­thing about me. But we’re not dat­ing.”


Nandi is smit­ten with vo­cal­ist and pro­ducer Tel­la­man, real name Thelu­musa Sa­muel Owen, who she’s been dat­ing for al­most a year.

“The se­cret is out – I might as well con­firm it,” she says shyly.

“It’s weird dat­ing some­one in the in­dus­try be­cause peo­ple are al­ways watch­ing your every move. But he and I are com­fort­able and we have noth­ing to hide.”

Tel­la­man and Nandi met through a mu­tual friend, Dj Kil­laMo.

“Ap­par­ently he’d been crush­ing on me for some time but he was wait­ing for the right time to ap­proach me. So I’m dat­ing a fan,” she jokes.

Nandi says Tel­la­man’s calm en­ergy also helps her man­age her anx­i­ety. But be­ing at home, reading books, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and watch­ing movies is the best way to keep calm, she adds.


Get­ting into char­ac­ter on the Isithem­biso set helps her for­get all her prob­lems.

Simi is such a juicy char­ac­ter it’s im­pos­si­ble not to give your all when play­ing her, Nandi says.

She’s a young ru­ral girl who leaves her home in KwaZulu-Na­tal to study medicine in the city of gold. Simi is naive so she strug­gles to see the bad in peo­ple and is soon sucked into the dark un­der­belly of the con­crete jun­gle.

She meets up with a sugar daddy, Banzi (played by Hamilton Dlamini), who prom­ises her the world but be­trays her trust. He rapes her, lies about her mother be­ing dead and tries to sep­a­rate her from her boyfriend, Za­mani.

Even­tu­ally Simi finds out about Banzi’s wicked ways and tries to kill him by stab­bing him one night near the river. But he es­capes and re­turns a few weeks later as a reborn Chris­tian and changed man.

Never a dull mo­ment on this show – and Nandi is lap­ping it up. “I love Simi’s in­no­cence and her abil­ity to love wholeheart­edly. But some­times she trusts too eas­ily. She does what her heart tells her and some­times she’s ir­ra­tional

and stub­born.”


Like Simi, Nandi also comes from KZN and left her home­town, New­cas­tle, to study pub­lic man­age­ment and gov­er­nance at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg. “I ini­tially wanted to study law, but there was no space so I took the next best thing.” But she hated it. “I tried to stick it out but I dropped out dur­ing sec­ond year and en­rolled to study law at Unisa in­stead.” She’s put her law de­gree on ice for a while as she doesn’t have enough time. For now, Nandi is fo­cus­ing on her act­ing but she’s de­ter­mined to qual­ify one day. “My dad is a mag­is­trate and he played a big role in me want­ing to study law. I have so much re­spect for the kind of work he does and I want to one day fol­low in his foot­steps.” But luck­ily for her fans Nandi isn’t go­ing any­where just yet.

‘My dad is a mag­is­trate and he played a big role in me want­ing to study law’

ABOVE: Nandi’s boyfriend – singer and pro­ducer Tel­la­man, real name Thelu­musa Sa­muel Owen. The two have been to­gether for al­most a year and are very much in love.

ABOVE: Nandi with her Isithem­biso co-star Za­mani Mbatha, who plays her boyfriend. RIGHT: In a scene with on-screen sugar daddy Banzi, played by Hamilton Dlamini.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.