The 26-year-old Khayelitsha resident first applied to study at the school in 2014, but couldn’t afford the tuition.
He attended every open day for the five years since then, to the point where some of the staff assumed he was a student there.
This month, Ngubelanga was enrolled at the Cape Town campus of the training school.
Triggerfish also sponsored student Zaid Neethling, 19, from Strandfontein, as well as second-year student Dawood Salie, 19, from Mitchells Plain, who also received a bursary last year.
The bursaries cover the full tuition fees for the year, thanks to funding from Triggerfish and Animate Africa, a US-based non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting Africa’s youth through animation skills development and training.
The Animation School principal Nuno Martins said the bursaries were important because of the shortage of funding opportunities for students at private animation schools.
About 50 students who applied were unable to secure the necessary funding.
“Talent is universal, opportunity is not. We want to start changing that, because we need diverse teams to do justice to our continent’s diverse stories,” Triggerfish chief executive Stuart Forrest said.
He said Ngubelanga, Neethling and Salie were examples of how it took a village to create an animator.
Ngubelanga and Neethling are both graduates of False Bay College’s 2D animation course, funded by MICT Seta and lectured by Cate Wood Hunter and Riaan Theron.
The college course provides an ideal bridging course for students who were not able to study art formally at school.
Salie is an alumnus of Draw For Life, an initiative offered by Sparks Flew Development Studio and PASCAP Trust and supported by Animation SA, The Animation School, and Triggerfish.
Draw for Life introduces talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds to South Africa’s booming animation industry and mentors them through a three-month series of classes covering the foundations of drawing for animation.
“It’s great to see the way the industry is coming together to create opportunities and mentor new talent,” said Forrest.