I was teased for being dark, says Nambitha Ben-Mazwi

Actress Nambitha Ben-Mazwi may be one of the most beautiful actresses in Mzansi but growing up she was often teased for her dark complexion, so she is using the experience to teach young girls to be comfortable in their skin.

The Broken Vows actress told TshisaLIVE that as a girl she was often teased and was nicknamed after a dark bird.

“There was a nickname that I will never forget. There is a bird that’s pitch black and people used to sing a song calling me that bird,” she said.


Nambitha said her grandmother helped her understand that her differences made her unique, and made her feel like her complexion was a “secret weapon” she had.

But even as she headed into the acting industry, Nambitha said she continued to feel like her complexion might be an issue.

“Since growing up my skin has been a teasing factor. It is only now that it (being dark) is in. For a long time it wasn’t but Hollywood goes through cycles where dark is the in thing, and then being a white male is the in thing, and then being a white female is an in thing. There is a cycle and dark is in now. There was a time that yellow bone was in.

“Although I have never been told that my skin was the reason for me not getting roles, I have tried to work with what I have and work with Pan-African productions where I know that I have the look. I tend to go where I am celebrated and block off everything else,” she said.

She joked that lighting was sometimes an issue on the set of Broken Vows and she often teased on set by asking them for additional lighting equipment for her scenes.

Nambitha has taken it all in her stride and said she was an advocate for dark-skinned girls.

“I feel like that is my calling, to inspire. I am trying to use my strengths to leave an impact and help young girls have confidence. I want girls to understand beauty is more than your appearance and they can do anything,” she said.

Nambitha has worked on productions both abroad and on home soil, and said that young artists needed to understand their value and not be so scared of the industry that they take the first gig that comes around.

“People aren’t aware of their rights in the industry. A lot of artists aren’t aware of what they can and can’t do. They are being exploited, to be honest, and a lot of education needs to centre around artists and not being scared to fight for what you are worth. There is this perception that this is your one gig and there is a fear where actors don’t know where their next gig is going to come from so they will bend over backwards,” she said.

The actress is part of the Book Your First Gig seminars with Thapelo Mokoena to teach valuable lessons to young talent and now wants to consult upcoming artists on how to value themselves properly.

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