Giving back: AFDA alumni invest in next generation of creative talent

Jun 2, 2023 | Alumni, News

At AFDA Durban this week, Sir Roel Twijnstra, the Program Co-Ordinator of the Live Performance School invited graduates Sibongiseni Shezi, Phakanyisiwe Onamandla Mbanjwa and Nonjabulo Bhengu to share their career journeys in the entertainment industry, giving back to third year Live Performance students and staff.

“The reality of the industry is hard and requires a lot of soft skills, perseverance, discipline and commitment. I am so proud of these actors.” says Sir Roel Twijnstra.

“It is an incredible honour to be invited back by a mentor, to the place that trained me for the very industry I had hoped to occupy (and am now working in), so that I may share on my present experiences and the things I have learned and continue to learn as an artist. I firmly believe that our gifts and talents, in their uniqueness, have a responsibility. That responsibility is not only to pour into your craft with everything you’ve got, but it is most importantly meant to serve. To give back and bless others just as it has blessed you.

AFDA changed the trajectory of my life as a whole but especially in my final year. I had no idea what was waiting for me out there, but as I’ve gone ahead, I can only hope to encourage those with the same dreams, passion and anxieties I had in their year with love, grace and truth. As creatives, we are instruments for change. So where we can, let’s inspire more, to do more.” says Sibongiseni Shezi, known for her role as “Hleziphi” on the number one South African television soapie Uzalo.

“Coming back to AFDA, my second home, was a blessing and a reminder that all things are possible. I’m where I am because of those who started the journey with me and kept me running until I finished the race. When I entered the AFDA gates I questioned myself. Is this really you? A whole graduate here to share a chapter that is so authentic and adventurous, filled with scary experiences and knowledge.

I’m grateful that I had a chance to speak to our tomorrow African artists from AFDA who engaged with me beautifully and made me feel at ease not only as an actor but also as a Traditional Healer.” says Phakanyisiwe Onamandla Mbanjwa who has worked on productions such as “Induku” and “Music in the Air”.

“Going back to AFDA after 3 years was so emotional for me, as I realised how much I missed being in that space. Getting an opportunity to speak to the third year live performance students felt so refreshing and nostalgic.  It reminded me of myself when I was in third year. I was excited, filled with hopes and dreams, yet anxious for the future. The 3rd year students engaged with my journey and asked valid questions. I could tell they were eager and wanted to know more. I have high hopes for them, as I saw that they are daring souls!” says Nonjabulo Bhengu who is a theatre performing artist signed under The Playhouse Company.



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