“Being a quiet person with no friends, I would participate in school plays and modelling competitions. This is where I made most of my friends, but I was still always a target of bullies and so in order to get them to like me, I would always pretend to be someone else,” said 23-year-old Samantha Zulu.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Zulu now has her eye set on bagging a scholarship to the New York Film Academy.
Zulu, who hails from uMlazi’s Q section, was the overall winner at the International Arts Talent Showcase held in Johannesburg in October.
She was hand-picked by Kim Meyer, the director and founder of the Arts Convention, to share her talent in the US.
“Performing on this stage would open a lot of doors for me. It would mean a chance at the scholarship,” she said.
While preparing for performances at the talent showcase, many youngsters, who were also from townships, pulled out because of lack of finances.
“In order to perform at the Arts Convention in Florida in July, we were told we needed to fund our flights and accommodation, as well as boot camps, so many talented people pulled out because of this,” she said.
Zulu said she had noticed that scouts and film-makers searched for talent in the cities only.
“This could be because they think those in townships and rural areas don’t have the money to pursue their careers further when offered scholarships without flights and accommodation being paid for.
“But there is much talent in the townships and rural areas,” said Zulu, who is completing her final year in language practice.
She had faith that somehow she would raise the R100 000 needed to go to the convention.
“If I do get the opportunity, I would work hard to gain as much experience and exposure as I could and I would come back to South Africa to help other young people like me.
“I would not only impart the acting and industry experience I obtain, but I would also teach them how to go about getting sponsors,” she said.
Zulu said after matriculating from Ridge Park College, her father was not “sold” on her going to study drama.
“He wanted me to get a different qualification. He had researched and found that job opportunities were rare in the industry. Even though he had been apprehensive about acting, he supported me. And he still supports me now,” she said.