Kaylin’s long road to stardom
GROWING up in poverty has been hard for Kaylin Soobramanian. The 17-year-old, who recently moved out of an informal settlement in Bhambayi to a home in Phoenix with his mother, brother and cousin, has great things in store for himself.
Popularly known as Thu Sheleni – a young hustler who popped up on everyone’s TV screens on popular local series Imbewu: The Seed, Soobramanian tells POST his Zulu is better than his English which is one of the reasons he was chosen for the role.
“My family lived in Bhambayi. I was only four-years-old and my crèche has only black kids. I loved to play, so I wanted to play with them, but I spoke English. One day a kid told me if I want to play I need to learn to speak Zulu so I did and now my Zulu is better.”
The grade 10 pupil from Westham Secondary School, who plays the role of a 21-yearold, said since meeting the cast and crew of Imbewu, he has been inspired to push himself towards a better life for his family.
“My dream has always been to become a soccer player. I am good outdoors, but in class, I struggle. I try my best in school, and when the job at Imbewu came about, I told people about my passion and how I struggle with school, and they motivated me and told me to make sure I push myself and complete school. I realised I need some help, and I started speaking to my principal Mrs R Bechoo and other teachers who are assisting me to balance acting and finishing school,” he said. His claim to fame is a humble one.
“When the casting people were looking for an Indian who speaks fluent Zulu they came to Bhambayi and met my brother, although he spoke perfect, he did not fit the profile they were looking for, so he told them about me.
“They came home, and video recorded me. They then asked me to come for auditions. I was scared. I told them I am not an actor and I did not have any transport to make it to Overport. So they even organised transport to take me,” he said.
“Duma Ndlovu called me personally to congratulate me on getting the role shortly afterwards, but I was still scared.”
Kaylin soon started working closely with Ndlovu and attending workshops to prepare him for the role. The once shy teen plays the role of Thu Sheleni confidently on screen, and people enjoy watching him.
“I get lots of people messaging me on social media saying they love the way I speak, but that’s exactly how I am. I can read, write and speak Zulu fluently. My family is so excited for me they sit around the TV every evening, following the show religiously, and I even found that I have more people approaching me for a quick chat nowadays.”
Kaylin said fans of the show must keep their eyes peeled.
“There’s a great twist coming up. I can’t say much about it, but those who follow the show closely will be excited when they see the next developments in the show.”
The show airs on e.tv every weekday from 9.30pm.
Kaylin Soobramanian plays the part of 21-year-old Thu Sheleni on Imbewu:
The Seed. RIGHT: With his principal Mrs R Bechoo, who has been helping him with his studies when he is away on set.