Thuthuka Mthembu plays Nonka on Uzalo.
Twenty year old Thuthuka Mthembu recently joined South Africa's most watched television soapie, Uzalo. She portrays the character, Nonka, a strong and brave yet complex individual. 

We chatted to her about life on set and as a youth in South Africa. 

Tell us about Nonka
There is so much to Nonka, but I feel that the trait that constantly exposes itself is her strength. She's found herself in so many situations where she's had to be strong and brave ... and for the most part .. her being strong was not just for herself. 

What attracted you to the character? 
It was the complexity and how the storyline was actually a reality for many households in South Africa. There are so many child- headed homes in South Africa. Portraying something that was relatable and brings to attention the harsh realities faced by some people is something I take incredibly seriously.

What roles do you prefer?  
I don't have a preference. I think it's important to not box yourself as an artist. Jumping at the opportunity to delves outside of your comfort is a chance to grow. 

Do you feel young artists need to be given more opportunity to prove themselves in the industry?
Absolutely. I am a product of opening up the industry. I do however also believe that young people need to do their best make sure they're aligned and are active in the space in which they want to see things happen for them. That way, they're in the face of an opportunity, and are prepared. So when it comes, it favours them. 

Do you think that youth have it harder today than compared to before? 
Not necessarily. We're living in a completely different time, so the problems we as the youth of today have evolved but are very relevant to the culture and the nature of the times we're living in. So it wouldn't be a fair comparison. I do acknowledge that the youth of '76 had the very difficult assignment of fighting for many of the privileges that we get to enjoy as the youth of today - this doesn't go unrecognized. We're incredibly grateful for the battles they fought on our behalf. 

What advice can you pass on to youth that have hopes and dreams. 
To know that their dreams are valid. No matter how big and scary they might feel. There is nothing that is impossible. There are no ceilings! 

What are some of the things you do as a constant in your life to help you achieve your goals? 
Prayer is my constant in all areas of my life. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
Definitely having taken on more roles. I'd love to have started my own production company, producing, writing and directing our own ideas. One of my dreams is to hold an international qualification. 

Who are your role models? 
I definitely look up to a lot of female powerhouses: Oprah, Ava Duvernay, Beyonce (for her work ethic, more than anything). Locally, it would be Nomzamo Mbatha, Bonang Matheba and Black Coffee.