Hollywood based Actress – Sibongile Mlambo, stays true to her roots. It’s always compelling to see yourself on TV, Billboards and magazines.
In 2020, we have so many faces that have made this possible for so many individuals to easily identify themselves on these platforms. The gorgeous Miss Universe – Zozibini Tunzi, Award-Winning Actresses – Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, constantly remind young brown-skinned girls that they matter and have a seat on the table.
One individual who is breaking boundaries and cementing her feet in this world is Zimbabwean/South African actress – Sibongile Mlambo, who made history by being the first Black Mermaid on US Television as Donna on Siren. She shares on her journey from the humble begins of Zimbabwe and South Africa to gracing the big screens in Hollywood. Sibongile reminisces on her first role on the Starz historical adventure television series – Black Sails, to further starring on films such as Honey 3, The Last Face, MTV’s Teen Wolf, and Netflix’s Lost in Space.
I feel really lucky to be quarantined with my siblings. Through the highs and the lows, we’ve been there for each other. California has been a relatively easy place to be quarantined. I worry about people back home, in Zimbabwe and South Africa. I was born in Zimbabwe and that’s where I grew up. I am also South African through my mom, so growing up my siblings and I would spend time between the two countries. My childhood was filled with boisterous family gatherings, gymnastics and dance classes, and explorations in art, fashion design, languages and youth outreach programs. Somewhere along the journey, I fell in love with performing.
My very first memory of acting was just for fun at my grandfather’s house during Christmas. Little did I know that would lead to a fulfilling career. My first professional role was in the feature film called Kini and Adams in 1997. The film features some of the outstanding actors of our time, such as John Kani, Vusi Kunene and Nthati Moshesh, amongst a whole lot more. In the beginning, there were obvious doubts since it’s an unstable career. Now, my cousins, nieces and nephews let me know when they watch my shows, my parents are my biggest fans, and my siblings are also in the industry – we are all enjoying it.
Generally, I have a handful of auditions every week. Most of the scripts come through my representation and I also read scripts from my friends and colleagues. There is no particular rhyme or reason or formula in this industry, but you should do your best to be prepared when your opportunity comes knocking. Work tirelessly on your acting and the craft, read and study, be intentional and proactive in seeking jobs, reaching out to mentors, casting directors, and making connections. Getting a degree is a plus if you’re able, but you can also take part-time classes, courses, or workshops. Do whatever you can to learn and to practice.
Some of the early challenges were limited opportunities, lack of knowledge, being lonely in a new city, and getting accustomed to new countries and cultures. Despite reaching certain milestones or levels of success, many creatives can attest to experiencing moments of self-doubt and imposter syndrome that can erode your self-esteem. As much as I can, I try to take care of my mental, emotional and physical health and focus on my own goals and what’s important.
We need more women in positions of power, as decision-makers, and as role models from every walk of life and background so that their value can be seen beyond just their sexuality. Women have much more depth, many more dimensions, and plenty to contribute to the world. The more we hold them up, the more we will see change.
Besides the expectation of always looking my best, sometimes, I do feel pressure to live up to Eurocentric standards of beauty. Defiantly, I am committed to embracing all of myself and expanding the definition of what is considered beautiful.
Yes, it can be. It’s an unpredictable industry with a lot of travel and changing schedules. Work can also be very time consuming so it can be challenging to make plans and spend time nurturing relationships.
When I look at where I am in the industry today, I am grateful for how far I have come but acknowledge that I still have a long way to go. I will always remember Black Sails as my first meaty role on an American TV show that exposed me to many international actors and planted the seed for my move to Los Angeles. Every job has impacted me in a unique way and every character left an impression. Be true to yourself, work hard, and remember that your unique qualities and your story are valuable and help you stand out – embrace them.
Currently, people can watch my work on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu worldwide (Lost in Space, Honey 3, Dark/Web and Siren). Most recently, I did a guest star on God Friended Me, playing an African princess, Lulu. Next up is a show I can’t believe I got to be a part of, Lovecraft Country. The first teaser trailer is out and it looks incredible. It is produced by JJ Abrams and Jordan Peele, and comes out in August on HBO.