Peter Luhanga - September 19, 2020

There is a movie star from Dunoon’s streets. Local resident Nolukhanyo Hempe, (32) has starred in locally written and produced feature films ‘Umninindlu,’; ‘Umlingisi,’ and ‘Iwashi’. The films are repeatedly played on DSTV channel 161 and 164, which has seen her attain celebrity status. Hempe, from Dunoon’s Tulip Street, is a single mom of one child aged ten, and was born in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape. She first tried her hand at music, performing in Dunoon taverns, but this didn’t bear fruit, and so in 2014 she decided to move to Johannesburg to seek greener pasture and at the same time try enrol at a music and DJ academy. She says in Dunoon there weren’t a lot of opportunities to enable her to excel and achieve her “big dreams”. “Dunoon became so small for me and my big dreams so I decided to move to Johannesburg. I wanted to be a DJ. I wanted to enrol at DJ Zintle Fuse academy,”says Hempe. “When I arrived in Johannesburg things were not smooth as I thought but my dreams did not allow me to go back home as I knew that I have a child to give a better future. I didn’t go to the academy because the struggle was too much, but I was blessed enough because of the people I got to know in Johannesburg,” said Hempe. Her acting career has seen her work with local famous movie stars such as Skhaleni (Isibaya) Meshack Mavuso known as Javas, and Darlington Michaels known as Papa G, to list but few, she says.

Since relocating to Gauteng she has starred in eight locally written and produced feature films, all of which have been on the silver screen. She says she hasn’t looked back, as the film industry catapulted her into the limelight. “I now fell in love with television…doing extras for Generations but I felt that I need to do more,” she says. She got her first “TV gig” on Ngempela, playing on SABC 1, then more followed, like lockdown series season 1. “Now I am blessed working with well known production companies. My recent movies are playing on Mzansi magic 164 and 161 and I am still busy with more that I can’t disclose now,” she said. Regarding her upbringing, she says she does not come from a wealthy family but “I don’t remember going to bed with an empty stomach as my grandmother, mom and family made sure we had the important things we needed”. Recalling her first time in Johannesburg, she says it was not easy to get by before she became famous. “It was never easy surviving in Johannesburg before becoming an actress. It is still not. I was almost caught in bad things but because I knew what I came here for I stayed focused and was blessed to find friends in the industry who groomed me and taught me about the industry which I’m still learning.” Still, she says she doesn’t think she will ever get used to seeing herself on television.

“It’s a great feeling and I always learn from my past gigs to be better on the next, as I’m still a baby learning to walk in the industry. When friends and family send me pictures of myself on television it always melts my heart and as I said it’s a feeling I will never get used to and I think they can see anything is possible if you know what you want,” she tells Iliso Labantu. She says her future plans are to be a great actress and at some point return to Dunoon to open acting classes and hopefully someday own an arts theatre in the township. “I always advise youth to go to school because the game is changing now. It is not easy to get in [film industry] but with school qualification it’s better, I was just fortunate that I did community theatre and the youth should always believe in themselves and go for what they want.”

She says as a musician she was only known in Dunoon for her music and she tried to be a singer in Jozi but it was not easy. She was blessed to be mentored by Winnie Khumalo, and had a great opportunity to share the stage with Khumalo, Nokwazi, Busiswa, Mapaputsi and the late Pro kid to mention a few, but she fell in love with acting and believes music will find her along the way. “My focus is in acting now.” For her fans, she says she doesn’t have a Twitter handle, but is present on Facebook and Instagram. Dunoon musician, Siphelo Yanta, famously known as ETYM ,said on behalf of Dunoon artists he is so happy that Hempe is doing well in Johannesburg. “As an artist what Hempe is doing is inspiring. She makes me believe that one day sonke sizopopa [all of us will be successful]. The first time I saw her on TV it was like I am dreaming because this is the same Hempe we used to share a stage with so she makes me believe that dreams really do come true. I wish her all the best in her hustle,” said Yanta.

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