Cover Story – The A to Z Of Khanya Mkangisa

The 30-year-old ac­tress and TV pre­sen­ter talks us through what ev­ery let­ter of the al­pha­bet rep­re­sents in her life, and the many lessons she’s em­braced af­ter 15 years in en­ter­tain­ment


Ais for act­ing. It’s a craft I have com­pletely fallen in love with. It’s a skill I have al­ways re­spected but started re­spect­ing even more once I got into it. My first ever act­ing gig was on the crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion drama se­ries Mtun­ along­side Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa. My sec­ond act­ing gig was on The Lab where I played Nambitha Mpuml­wana’s daugh­ter. I got to share screen time with revered ac­tors like Mothusi Magano and Fana Mokoena. My third and long­est was Zone 14 where I played Jet Novuka’s daugh­ter. I also worked with Jet on

Isidingo, and re­cently shot one of three films with him, un­der the Be­ing Man­dela um­brella. He’s def­i­nitely some­one whose bril­liance con­tin­ues to in­spire me. B is for book. My all-time favourite and life-chang­ing book is Out­liers: The Story of Suc­cess by Mal­colm Glad­well. It helped me make peace with how the world is set up. Often we want to blame oth­ers for things not turn­ing out the way we’d an­tic­i­pated them to, or think God is not fair when He’s dis­tribut­ing bless­ings, but the book has taught me to re­move the emo­tions we like at­tach­ing to dis­ap­point­ment. Even the 10 000 hours the­ory that is out­lined in the book is true — if you constantly work hard at some­thing, of course you’re go­ing to be good at it. C

is for child star. It’s a ti­tle that won’t leave me alone [chuck­les]. In high school, I was al­ways in the top ten of my grade, and loved net­ball. I be­came a Yo-TV pre­sen­ter in grade 10, and that meant I couldn’t com­mit my­self to cer­tain ex­tra-mu­ral ac­tiv­i­ties. Peo­ple as­sumed that I would change, so they, in­stead, changed and started treat­ing me dif­fer­ently. It was such an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. More than any­thing, jug­gling school with a pre­sent­ing job taught me the im­por­tance of sac­ri­fice — that when pur­su­ing your dreams, you have to al­low cer­tain things to fall by the way­side.

Dis for dad. I’ve never had a re­la­tion­ship with my fa­ther but at 21, he reached out and asked that we meet. I hon­oured his re­quest but chose not to tell my mom un­til much later. When I even­tu­ally told her, she was happy that she didn’t in­flu­ence whether I went or not, and how I opted to treat him af­ter­wards was to­tally on me. I don’t har­bour any nega­tive feel­ings to­wards him, but his ab­sence speaks vol­umes about his char­ac­ter. E is for evo­lu­tion. A lot of peo­ple often ask me how I’ve man­aged to stay rel­e­vant be­cause most child stars from my gen­er­a­tion aren’t on TV any­more. For in­stance, there was no so­cial me­dia when I started on TV. We would urge view­ers to send their com­ments via text, and those would be read out on-air. Now I see the im­pact so­cial me­dia is hav­ing on our ca­reers. I en­joy how me­dia is be­ing lapped up, so it’s been easy for me to mould my­self to fit into this new for­mat. My In­sta­gram is still very re­lat­able, but I un­der­stand how I can make money off this plat­form be­cause I like beauty and fash­ion. I’ve po­si­tioned my so­cial me­dia in such a way that I show­case what I’m known for, with­out chang­ing who I am. F is for fame. Be­cause I started out in this in­dus­try at 15, I’ve long got­ten used to the stares and the pic­ture re­quests. Some peo­ple are thrust into fame in their 20s when they are al­ready set in their ways, and are forced to change their life­styles.

Gis for God. I treat my re­la­tion­ship with God like I would a sa­cred and price­less pos­ses­sion. I def­i­nitely am aware of where all my bless­ings come from, and I’ve seen the grace and favour that He has shown me, per­son­ally and ca­reer-wise. My spir­i­tu­al­ity isn’t the rush-to-church-ev­ery-Sun­day type — I’m al­ways con­vers­ing with Him. H is for hap­pi­ness. I’m a nat­u­rally joy­ful per­son. I’ve learnt that when you’re con­tent, it’s easy to be a happy per­son. Be­ing con­tent sim­ply means that you are aware that there’ll al­ways be room for im­prove­ment. When you’re con­tent, you in­evitably at­tract so much good be­cause you are grate­ful. I re­mem­ber a phase in my life when I al­lowed some­one to have more con­trol than they should have, but I quickly re­alised that joy is too huge a task to place in some­one else’s hands.

I is for in­de­pen­dence. This is a trait that I ap­pre­ci­ate be­cause it’s taught me not to de­pend on the next per­son — not that there’s any­thing wrong with that. I never want to feel like I can’t do cer­tain things be­cause of some­one, and that’s prob­a­bly why I don’t have a man­ager. I was brought up in a sin­gle-par­ent house­hold and went to board­ing school at six. Be­ing a boarder at such a young age, ob­vi­ously, taught me to do things for my­self. Board­ing school aside, that I’d be in­de­pen­dent was in­evitable be­cause I watched my mom raise, pro­vide for me and change light­bulbs all by her­self. I some­times wouldn’t see her be­cause she worked 12-hour shifts. J is for Jozi. While in board­ing school in Gra­ham­stown, my mom worked in Padding­ton, where my late ma­ter­nal grand­mother was from. Go­ing home dur­ing school hol­i­days only, and not ev­ery sec­ond week­end, was nor­mal be­cause ev­ery­thing in the Eastern Cape is far spread any­way. I com­pletely un­der­stood the norm. In grade 6, my mom con­sulted me about mov­ing to Jo­han­nes­burg. I love that, from a very young age, my mom’s al­ways in­cluded me in all her de­ci­sion-mak­ing. We re­lo­cated to Joburg when I was 12.

Kis for Khanya. My name means light, to il­lu­mi­nate or to shine. My mom says she named me Khanya be­cause when she was a stu­dent nurse, there was a lady at her col­lege with a sim­i­lar name who was beau­ti­ful and grace­ful. She just ran­domly de­cided that she’d some­day name her child Khanya. I al­ways try to live up to the mean­ing of my name by ex­celling in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of my work. L is for longevity. Long af­ter I’d been on Yo-TV and be­fore start­ing on Se­li­math­unzi, I’ve never been one to be out there for the sake of be­ing seen or rel­e­vant. I’m hap­pier in my space — it’s weird be­cause I’m so­cia­ble, but I’m also not [chuck­les]. Ob­vi­ously, be­cause of Se­li­math­unzi, I’m al­ways out and about but even with that, I work, stay for a bit then hit the road. When it comes to longevity, stay­ing true to my­self has re­ally stood me in good stead.

Mis for men­tal strength. I par­tic­i­pated in the last sea­son of Tropika Is­land of Trea­sure Sea­son 8 which took place in the Mal­dives, along­side Tumi Voster, Melinda Bam, Sbahle Mpisane, Naymaps Mapha­lala and a few other celebs. Peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate me all the time be­cause I’m tiny, and a lot of the ac­tiv­i­ties were very phys­i­cal. I went there with a weave and long nails, and peo­ple as­sumed I was in it for the frills, not know­ing that I’m very com­pet­i­tive. If I lose, I want to lose know­ing that I gave it my all. My ap­proach to life in general is to al­ways do my best so I’m not mad at my­self at the end. Much to ev­ery­one’s sur­prise, I made it to the top three. That ex­pe­ri­ence taught me that phys­i­cal chal­lenges aren’t so much about phys­i­cal strength, but are more a men­tal chal­lenge. N is for Nonhle, a char­ac­ter I played on the SABC 1 drama se­ries Forced Love. At 22, it was in­spir­ing to play such a care­free spirit. O is for only-child. I often get asked if I didn’t have a lonely child­hood but the truth is, I liked be­ing an only child. If I were to have a kid now, I’d prob­a­bly only have one be­cause I turned out fine [chuck­les]. Some­times, I pick up on my self­ish ten­den­cies but now that I’m older, I’ve learnt to ad­just and work on them so that ev­ery­thing isn’t al­ways about me. Turn­ing 30 this year helped me be­come aware of how I re­act to things. I’m, now, much more calmer and at peace but this ob­vi­ously comes with years of wit­ness­ing how life op­er­ates. P is for prop­erty. I be­came a full-on adult when I bought my prop­erty at 25 — this re­mains one of my big­gest achieve­ments to date. I en­joyed go­ing to view­ings and had, thank­fully, saved a lot of money, which I pumped to­wards my home. From trans­fer to tax costs, that apartment-pur­chas­ing process taught me a lot of lessons that I had to in­ter­nalise quickly. My mom has my spare key and I still go home often to sleep in my old bed, and when I run out of cup­board space, I take the stuff to my mom’s house [chuck­les].

Qis for the ques­tions that I’ve been bat­tling with. From time to time, I also get the typ­i­cal ‘when are you get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing kids?’ Those are ques­tions I’ve also been ask­ing my­self [chuck­les]. I’m in­ter­ested to know how that area is go­ing to play out, but I’ve also made peace with the fact that it could go ei­ther way. One of my great­est fears is to marry or have a child by some­one who’ll show me a dif­fer­ent side to them, should we sep­a­rate. I want who­ever fa­thers my child to be some­one I can fully de­pend on even when we’re not to­gether any­more. R is for Rockville Sea­son 3. If In­ter­sex­ions didn’t so­lid­ify my act­ing abil­i­ties, then Rockville cer­tainly did. I played Nolitha, who later be­came Cleopa­tra and ended up dy­ing from a drug over­dose. To this day, when peo­ple speak about my stand­out role and per­for­mance, Rockville is al­ways men­tioned. When I left, Shona Fer­gu­son was adamant that we had to work to­gether again. S is for Se­li­math­unzi. I’ve been on the show for three years. The back story here is that, af­ter they’d just an­nounced that Zizo Beda was leav­ing the show, I knew I’d be the per­fect fit so I ap­proached the rel­e­vant peo­ple and asked to be au­di­tioned. T is for the name of a lo­cal se­ries whose cast I re­cently joined. I can’t di­vulge much about it yet, be­cause my char­ac­ter makes her de­but on the 8th of Jan­uary 2019. When this role came along, the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer called me di­rectly to tell me about the new di­rec­tion the writ­ing team was tak­ing. Be­cause my last big act­ing role was on the drama se­ries Har­vest along­side Vatiswa Ndara and Masasa Mban­geni, I didn’t want to au­di­tion for just any role, even though I un­der­stand that as ac­tors in Mzansi, we don’t re­ally have the lux­ury of turn­ing down jobs. This new role is on one of the most watched shows in the coun­try cur­rently, so what bet­ter show to make my act­ing come­back on. U is for unique. I be­lieve my out­look on life sets me apart. I al­ways ap­proach sit­u­a­tions with a pos­i­tive mind­set. I be­lieve I ex­ude good vibes which in turn makes me re­lat­able. I also adapt eas­ily to most sit­u­a­tions.

Vis for my mother, Vuyokazi Mkangisa. She doesn’t dic­tate, in­stead she’s su­per sup­port­ive. To this day, she watches ev­ery sin­gle show I’m on. She’s very quiet and re­served, but leads by ex­am­ple. Even though I don’t have as much lee­way, I could never do any­thing hu­mil­i­at­ing be­cause of the type of fam­ily I come from. My mom — a pro­fes­sional mid­wife — has worked so hard to give me the best of ev­ery­thing; it just wouldn’t be fair of me to throw all of that back in her face. W is for work ethic. This is some­thing peo­ple al­ways point out about me — that I work hard and I’m a plea­sure to work with. This is also a trait I got from my mom. I’ve never heard my mom com­plain about work­ing in­sane hours be­cause she fully un­der­stands go­ing the ex­tra mile to reach one’s goals. I be­lieve in lit­tle things like hon­our­ing my call time be­cause it’s the least you can do, to be con­sid­er­ate to col­leagues.

X is for Xhosa. If I were to have a child now, that child would be flu­ent in isiXhosa — it wouldn’t be open for dis­cus­sion! I ap­par­ently re­fused to speak isiXhosa at some point when I was young, but the onus is on par­ents not to give up on teaching chil­dren their mother tongue. If we were never con­fused by learn­ing mul­ti­ple lan­guages, then the kids of this gen­er­a­tion Z will also be fine. Y is for Yo-TV, the show that of­fi­cially in­tro­duced me to my pas­sion for the arts. is for Zanz­ibar. Be­cause I’d been to a few is­lands, I didn’t ex­pect it to blow my mind. It’s now one of my best hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions. When it comes to choos­ing va­ca­tion spots, I’m an is­land girl — but that’s prob­a­bly be­cause I’m orig­i­nally from the coast and Pisces; there must al­ways be some wa­ter in my trav­els. A BIG thank you to the stun­ning Hert­ford Coun­try Ho­tel in Elands­drift, Lanse­ria for host­ing the True Love team for our De­cem­ber 2018 cover shoot.

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