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Generations’ Nondumiso Tembe was born to perform

Nondumiso Tembe plays the wild, ambitious and scandalous role of Miss Mya on Genertations, scheming to get what she wants at whatever cost.

With fine acting acting skills, a strong American accent and fluency in isiZulu, Tembe’s story is rooted in her passion – the performing arts. Born to South African opera singers Linda Bhukosini and Bongani Tembe, she spent a large part of her childhood in New York where her parents were studying music at the Julliard School, which specialises in dance, drama and music. Naturally, her parents became the biggest influences on her performance career.

“My parents have mentored and guided both my acting and singing careers,” says Tembe.

“I am very lucky because they are not just my parents, but they are both extremely successful, seasoned artists in their own right, so they really understand the industry.”

Following in her parents’ footsteps, Tembe started performing opera at the age of six.

“I always knew what I was called to do and what my talents and strengths were,” says Tembe.

“But there was a time, in my late teens when I wanted to give up the arts to become an international human rights lawyer with a focus on Africa. But God called me back and said: ‘I see where you want to go, but unfortunately, this is where I need you.’ As soon as I got that message, things sort of took off for me. So I guess the moral of the story is, you can’t run from your calling.”

Tembe’s family returned to South Africa when she was 10-years-old. As a brave and ambitious teenager, Tembe made the decision to go back to New York on her own to study musical theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

“From a young age, my parents instilled in me that my race, gender or economic situation was never a barrier,” says Tembe.

“They taught me to believe that I could accomplish anything, and be the best, if I worked really hard and gave it my all. So when it came to my education and developing my skills as a young performer, I knew I needed to go to the best conservatories in the world and that’s what I aimed for.”

Looking to secure a long and meaning career in the performing arts, Tembe graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre at the New School University in New York and completed her Masters of Fine Art at the Yale School for Drama.

While Tembe was still unknown in South Africa, she was making waves overseas. She became widely known for her portrayal of Creole maid Mavis on the American series True Blood. She’s also worked alongside Mark Harmon on NCIS and LL Cool J on NCIS: LA. However, Tembe still had to fight “the deeply entrenched racism and and narrow-mindedness that prevails in the entertainment industry.”

“Hollywood’s value system is often at odds with one’s own value system,” she says.

Tembe’s role on Generations has South African viewers excited.

“Playing Miss Mya was intimidating at first,” says Tembe.

“She is so in-your-face sexy and wild and quite self-serving and unscrupulous. She operates from a very different centre to mine. And I admit I was a bit concerned about the message we were giving to the youth, through her. But after a few weeks, I started to have fun with her.” she says.

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