Nondumiso’s performance ambition is “to achieve excellence, to do work that has a meaningful impact on the world and has longevity”. This goal continues to be realised with her performance in the role of Grace Rwaramba, the nanny to Michael Jackson’s children in the recent US released movie entitled Searching for Neverland. Nondumiso says that she felt honoured to play this role as Grace was one of “his closest friends and confidantes who saw everything and as such, they developed quite a complicated and tumultuous relationship. She loved him very much and was fiercely protective of him.”
Nondumiso Tembe matriculated from Crawford College North Coast in the Class of 2001 with big dreams of becoming famous in the world of entertainment. She has indeed made her dreams a reality, as she continues to soar as one of Africa’s brightest international stars of stage and screen. After matriculating, she headed directly for New York to enrol for a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, with majors in Theatre and Political Science at New York’s New School University. During this time, she spent an exchange at the British American Dramatic Academy at Oxford University in England, where she studied Classical Theatre. She has also completed part-time studies in Ballet at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and African Dance at the Djoniba African Dance and Drum Centre.
With these dramatic skills, she stood out in auditions, and notched up some notable credits, including her intense portrayal of Mavis, the tragic Creole maid, in the Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning show “True Blood”; the feisty and scandalous Miss Mya in SA’s popular TV show, “Generations”; a cameo role in Marvel’s “Avenger II” movie, and as the fierce Fanta in the international mini-series entitled a “Book of Negroes”. She is also performing in the new TV military-drama entitled SIX and the lead role in the film Zulu Wedding. Her extensive theatre work includes performances at some of the US’s most prestigious theatres, including the McCarter Theatre at Princeton, the Yale’s Repertory Theatre, Columbia’s Miller Theatre, Boston’s Court Theatre, and LA’s Walt Disney Studios.
She has gone on to successfully complete a Masters of Fine Arts Degree, specialising in Acting at the prestigious Yale School of Drama. In 2012 she won the Best Lead Actress Award at the Mercury Theatre Award Ceremony for her tour-de-force performance in the title role of “Cinderella” in SA’s revival of Rogers’ and Hammerstein’s classical musical. In 2014, she won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Award at the Naledi Theatre Award Ceremony for her razor-sharp portrayal of the ferocious young lawyer, Susan, in David Mamet’s provocative play “Race” in the successful SA tour, which culminated in a triumphant run at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival, in Scotland.
As an accomplished singer and songwriter, this multi-talented artist’s critically-acclaimed debut album “IZWI LAMI” (My Voice) won the 2011 Metro FM Music Award for Best Music Video, and received a nomination for Best Female Album, as well as a nomination for a SA Traditional Music Award in the Best Ethno Soul Artist category. This eclectic album was the product of her writing twelve original tracks, featuring collaborations with Maskandi music legends’ Madala Kunene and Phuz’Ekhemisi, as well as the popular SA Hip Hop artist Young Nations. This album succeeded with two hit singles and music videos. One of which, entitled “Black Gold” marked her artistic production and directorial debut.
She is a passionate socio-politically conscious artist who has used her voice as a vehicle to effect positive change in her local and international communities. In 2011, after serving on the Board of Directors of Yale University’s Black Alumni Association, Nondumiso was nominated as a “Global Shaper” by the World Economic Forum. She was the first black actress to lead a multi-racial cast in a major theatrical production in post-Apartheid SA. She sang at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebration in Qunu, performed two powerful tribute performances at the UN’s UNESCO International Africa Day Celebrations (2012), and the 50th anniversary of the Rivonia Trials (2013). And finally, as a presenter, she co-hosted the 123rd International Olympics Committee Opening Ceremony in Durban.
This illustrious record of achievements is held in even higher esteem when we realise the short period of time in which it has been achieved. But then, Nondumiso was never one to sit around and watch life pass her by.
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