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.

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