When Nambitha Ben-Mazwi told a friend she was gunning for Netflix next at the Queen Sono launch in 2019, little did she know that three years later she would be making history as the only South African to have starred in six Netflix productions to date.
“God listened hey. I pray about everything because for me what I do [acting] is such a purpose work… So it was manifestation, God, everything,” sh
The 33-year-old adds to her count Netflix’s newest series Savage Beauty, scheduled to premier on May 12.
Her previous work on the streaming network were Happiness Ever After, Black Mirror, How to Ruin Christmas, Diamond City and Dead Places.
“I am a big believer in speaking things into existence because words have so much power. But I didn’t expect it to go as far as now having six credits and being the only South African but that is also just God’s hand,” she says.
“This is by far my best work. I am so excited about the show, not only for what it stands for but for what Linda Bengu’s [her character] story is.
I am a big believer in speaking things into existence because words have so much power. But I didn’t expect it to go as far as now having six credits and being the only South African but that is also just God’s hand
“This is such a cryptic show to describe because there are so many twists and turns, you are at the edge of your seat, the suspense — but it is exciting and high pace.”
Savage Beauty is based on the elite Bengu family who own a beauty empire built on a lot of secrets.
Linda is the daughter of Don Bengu who only met her dad later in life. She longs for acceptance from her dad while also proving herself to him as she is gunning for the CEO position.
“This story is going to open up a much-needed conversation, a conversation that I am extremely passionate about as an advocate for dark skin magic… It’s going to open up very controversial conversations about beauty and beauty standards.”
Mazwi is a business science honours degree holder with years of corporate background.
She says this character took her out of her comfort zone from her previous work.
“… I’m unrecognisable in every manner, to be honest, but what is exciting about this character, and why I say it was my best work yet, is that it was such a personal challenge for me.”
Her journey in acting officially started in 2016 and she is gunning for an Emmy Award next, while also pursuing other interests, including producing.
“Being a very meticulous person who treats her career as a business, which comes from my background as a business scientist, I have established this entire strategy of where I want my career to go.
“In the first year, I planned to build an international footprint — in 2016 I was able to do that. … when I look back, the growth has been tremendous especially last year,”
Mazwi, who hails from Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, says: “When you have a calling,…until you respond to it, it is going to keep bugging you. And that is purely what my story has been. I grew up in the theatre, doing musicals and at age 12 travelled to Europe.
“I was heavily influenced by my uncle, the great Tony Award winner Winston Ntshona — but I never thought I could take this seriously as a career.
“…Corporate took over my entire life but I realised I wasn’t fulfilled. I needed to have a real conversation with myself on how I would change the world. It was after my trip to New York which was a two-week holiday and I just didn’t get on the plane back but stayed there for like six months.
“I had my eat-pray-love moment… That is when I realised that I am going to pursue a career in the arts, although I didn’t know how. I knew that I needed to stay true to myself no matter what and that is a promise I made to myself.”
She is also the founder of #SheSpeaksByLadyNam, a global women’s empowerment movement in partnership with Global Citizen, that started off in 2018 on Women’s Day when she realised she could not respond to every direct message she received.
“…I’ve always been open about how I was bullied when younger for my dark skin and where my strong self-esteem came from, which is from my grandmother who played a huge role. I started seeing a lot of young girls gravitating towards me and the natural progression was to start this platform and dialogue where I can interact with everyone in a safe space.”
She is also working on her own skincare range.