KZN woman wins international best actress award

Buhle Khumalo, right, with her sister Samukele Khumalo-Dludla who co-directed and produced the movie ‘Zipped’. | Supplied

Buhle Khumalo, right, with her sister Samukele Khumalo-Dludla who co-directed and produced the movie ‘Zipped’. | Supplied

Published Jun 23, 2024


Durban — KwaZulu-Natal’s Buhle Khumalo has won the Best Actress award in the International Foreign Language Film category of the Africa USA International Film Festival in California on Wednesday.

Khumalo, 33, from KwaNongoma, is the first black woman living with a disability to win the award.

Her acting skills were recognised in the movie Zipped.

The one-hour 39-minute film is about a young girl from the rural areas whose life is “zipped” by an illness unknown to them (epilepsy), which makes her dream of completing school challenging, but her resilience sees her triumph.

The film was inspired by Khumalo’s battle with epilepsy, which she was diagnosed with aged two. The disorder has also resulted in her having speech and hearing impairments, and seizures.

The film casts eight other people that are living with a disability.

Khumalo also strutted across the runway at the festival's fashion show, dressed by fashion designer Abiola, who has also dressed the likes of Beyonce and America’s former first lady, Michelle Obama.

Speaking to the Sunday Tribune, Khumalo said she was over the moon about her win.

She said the film sent a strong message to persons living with disabilities.

“People that are disabled should not doubt themselves and their abilities. They should grab all opportunities that are presented to them, just like I did with this film.

“No matter what challenges you may encounter, be strong and soldier on. Do not limit yourselves. You can even get into business. If you have the ability, go for it,” said Khumalo.

Buhle Khumalo with her sister Samukele Khumalo-Dludla who co directed and produced the movie Zipped. | Supplied.

Although her disability brought some challenges during the production at times, she was able to overcome them.

“When the sun became too hot, I would become unwell and dizzy, and then experience seizures. This resulted in the production having to be halted on some days when we were shooting but I worked hard and we completed the job,” said Khumalo.

She hoped to establish her own foundation for people with epilepsy as she was of the view that they needed plenty of support and encouragement.

Khumalo holds a qualification in Office Administration. She is currently pursuing an internship and is running her own B&B.

She said that she hoped to continue with her acting career, and that she would be offered more roles as her ability to act had been showcased.

According to Khumalo’s older sister, Samukele Khumalo-Dludla, who co-directed and produced the movie, they aimed to start a debate around the education system and the challenges it brought for people living with disabilities.

“Initially we thought of writing a book and then decided to make a movie instead in order to reach a wider audience and make a greater impact. We wanted to showcase the difficulties faced by people living with disabilities, especially of this nature, such as bullying and being ostracised,” Khumalo-Dludla said.

Khumalo-Dludla said that she was extremely proud of her sister and would work alongside her on other projects as well.

Sunday Tribune