Linda Mtoba - the star who is bagging brands everywhere

Published Jun 5, 2022


I have always wondered what it is about Linda Mtoba that has everyone so entranced by her. Could it be her beauty? Her style, which she has earned accolades for? Or is it her talent as an actress, having bagged roles on “Isibaya”, “The River” and “One Night kwa Mxolisi”?

It recently dawned on me that while those things were all factors, there was one important thing - she has that X-factor, that rare je ne sais quoi that makes her irresistible.

I saw this in person at The Pencil Private Members Club in uMhlanga, Durban, as she hosted the Edgars Beauty event to celebrate the launch of Fenty Beauty in South Africa. Wearing a simple white shirt, pants and sneakers, she was accessible, the ultimate girl next door and the audience loved it.

She related jokes, adding vignettes and lightening the mood as Fenty's Global Make-up artist, Hector Espinal, took the beauty fanatics through how the products work.

She was quick to share how she was getting simple make-up tricks wrong and how she was going to do better, which elicited nods and laughs from the audience.

And it was there that I realised that it's her easy rapport with everyday people that makes her a magnet for brands. It is that skill to appeal to people from all walks of life that has made her become an ambassador for many top brands.

Currently gracing the cover of Glamour South Africa magazine, Mtoba is also the brand ambassador of Kelso, Edgars Beauty, Samsung, Vaseline and Bernini.

She’s also making a return on 1Magic’s “The River”, where she has reunited with her “Isibaya” cast mate, Bheki Mkhwane.

Insider spoke to the actress about being a brand magnet, today's age of celebrity and the mistakes she has learnt the most from.

When you made your move into the entertainment industry, what did you want or hope to do differently than your peers?

I think, at the time, I didn't even know enough about the industry. But I know that I wanted longevity. It's an industry where people are celebrated one day and then forgotten the next day, where I know that people don't last that long.

Build a strong brand for me. I did things how I felt t that time. Support structure - easier to navigate. I understand brand work. I knew where I wanted my ship to go and the people I wanted to collaborate with.

Was there a plan that you had, and has it been fully implemented with tangible results?

You know it's crazy how we had a timeline of two years, four years, five years? In two years in the industry, I was already a brand ambassador. I think what has helped is that I understood the magnitude of what it means to be a brand ambassador.

I was important to have a brand that everyone wanted to collaborate with, and I put in the work. I looked at the people who came before me. I did the research.

In this age of celebrity, there's access which can be a lot. How have you managed to be as public as you are and still be seen as a private individual?

I think it is because I choose what to share. What connects me most to people is authenticity. They know me. They don't know a different version of myself, and how I have done that is that they know I won’t share the private moments of my life.

My husband is not part of my career, and I won't share my daughter’s name. I am big on protecting your loved ones, and I have made it a thing to respect boundaries that I set for myself early on in my career.

Have there been any mistakes you have made and learnt from - things that you unknowingly did but have made you better in the entertainment industry?

I'll say posting my husband at first. I regret that part. But in terms of the industry, no. Things happen when they are meant to happen. God's timing is important in life. I let everything go: if I can't fix it, I can't do anything about it.

I will cry, yes, but something else will come along. There will be another role.

I gather you were planning on entering the marketing industry before the acting bug bit you. How have those skills helped in shaping your career?

Oh, of course, it has. When I studied marketing, I didn’t realise just how much of an impact it will have on how I approach things. It’s crazy how life comes at you because as much as I am an actress, I am still a marketer.

What do you think has made you so appealing and trustworthy to the brands you have and are currently collaborating in partnership with?

I think it's because I'm a normal girl. I want to the be girl next door, not a celebrity, per se. You''ll see me every day, in casual clothes and no make up. It’s always refreshing to be yourself, and that's why brands maybe may be into me.

I respect myself and others. I am a nice person, and I live a very simple life. It’s really all about family first.

Do you think there has been a concerted effort from SA's public figures to change their image to appeal to these brands?

I think for the longest time, my peers weren't paying attention. Even brands have changed. When it comes to brands, they are not using celebrities anymore. It’s not about celebs.

It’s about content creators who will bring in that ROI. I started noticing that shift and worked on the plan. But what has worked even better for me is that I stayed true to myself and created content that appeals to me and shows me at my most natural.

I understand you are currently involved with The Fashion Hero as a coach of Team Kelso. What has been on the show like for you?

It’s all about changing the beauty industry and what society deems as beautiful. It's for anyone and everyone. Everyone is beautiful on the earth- but not represented. Speak to people about conquering fears and barriers. And that's about you being a hero.