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3 Jul

Nefisa Mkhabela – It All Started With a Vision

Actress Nefisa Mkhabela has always pictured her name in shining lights. The 22-year-old is a radiant ball of energy and has a long-standing love for the Arts and being on stage. 

Growing up in Soweto, she was raised by a mother who believed in her. From the age of 2, she was already part of an agency. 

“My mom definitely has been my biggest hero and just someone that really believed in me and what I’m capable of. She has always had a vision for me even before I could have one for myself,” shared the star.  

Speaking fondly of both her parents, the actress shared that she has a wonderful relationship with both of them even though they are separated. She also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to live with each of them during different parts of her childhood.

A sweet love affair with the Arts

From as early as her primary school years, Mkhabela has always enjoyed anything that had to do with the arts. 

“Whenever there was something to do with being on stage at school, I always wanted to find myself in those spaces,” she said. 

When she was in Grade 7, her parents were called in for a conversation which made her completely certain that she wanted to pursue a career in the world of entertainment. 

“I remember my English teacher at the time called my mom and dad in for a meeting. She said I’m a huge talent and suggested that I go to the National School of the Arts.” 

This is not something which her father agreed with as he envisioned other plans for her. However, from that day on, she became more determined and fully embraced her passion for the arts. 

“I think that was the point when I realised and decided that I want the rest of my life to look this way,” she said.

Lights, camera…action! 

Since then, Mkhabela has grown to star in a number of drama productions. 

She is popularly known for the character of Onalerona Molapo on eTV’s fashion drama House of Zwide

Fondly known as Ona, the character is a young lady who is chasing her dreams in the fashion industry. 

Mkhabela shared that while the real her is different from the character, there are a number of similarities. 

“I think there definitely will always be a similarity between people and their characters, just because we are the source of the characters. 

Ona was very personal for me. In some ways, I see her as me. We have similar journeys. My dad wanted me to go into Law rather than the Arts. And Ona’s dad at the time wanted her to go into Accounting rather than Fashion. We also share passion and drive, as well as stopping at nothing.”

Most recently, Mkhabela starred in the Netflix drama comedy How to Ruin Love: The Proposal. Playing the role of Omphile, she shared that it was an experience which she thoroughly enjoyed. 

“It was so exciting because I was allowed to really just be an idiot. It was fun. Whatever impulses I had, I was allowed to act on. There was never a moment where I felt like I’m doing too much. Omphile was the kind of character you didn’t necessarily plan for. You just let her take over. I really enjoyed her.”

Although she has had a number of admirable milestones in the past few years, Mkhabela considers her role on eTV’s House of Zwide as her biggest career highlight. 

“It was the moment where everything really started for me. Ona was the character that really showed the country my talent and the gifts that God has blessed me with. I think I was very vulnerable in telling her story, which is not easy to do.” 

Fashion – it runs in the family 

As someone who dresses to express, Mkhabela says her fashion sense and love for style are things which developed due to the environment she was exposed to. 

“My aunt, Kedebone Mkhabela, has always been in the industry. She was part of a musical group back in the days. 

They would have all these fancy photo shoots and all these cute outfits. She would also attend lots of events so she would go to designers.  From a very young age, I was just exposed to fashion,” she expressed. 

Solitude, the cinema and striving for success

When she is not on set, the actress can be found enjoying some alone time in the comfort of her home, or on a solo movie date. 

“When I’m on set, I’m always around people. So, I do like a lot of solitude. I also love going to the cinema alone. That is literally my biggest hobby. I also feel like that’s a way of research. It is just an enlightening space for me to be in.” 

Moreover, she enjoys getting lost in the pages of a good book. 

 “I find myself going to Exclusive Books a lot. I’ll just sit there for five to six hours just reading a book.”

Ultimately, she encourages those with a burning desire for success to let go of fear and be willing to leave their comfort zone. 

“Don’t let fear drive the way you go about living your life. To be honest, you have nothing to lose. 

Put yourself out there, as uncomfortable as it may be. Do your research too. Always use the resources that you have in front of you. There’s no harm in trying.” 

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