5 minutes with Gomora’s Siphesihle Ndaba - 'I almost studied towards a Bachelor in Music'

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Siphesihle Ndaba
Siphesihle Ndaba
Photo: @ceecee_ndaba/Instagram

Acress Siphesihle Ndaba shares her background, and some of her defining moments. 

I grew up in Mofolo, Soweto. I was raised by my single mom along with my two brothers. Although we didn’t have it easy financially, my mom was a resourceful woman — she got subsidies from government to ensure that we attended good schools. Owing to my academic record, I was accepted into the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) from Grade 10 to matric.

I almost studied towards a Bachelor in Music. I was a music student at OWLAG — I was in the jazz band, played in the Johannesburg Schools Orchestra and also took part in the school’s annual musical. A last-minute change derailed my plan. After a conversation with someone, I realised that a music degree wouldn’t work out, so I decided to broaden my scope.

In 2015, I took part in the musical I’m An Emotional Creature, and that solidified my love affair with the performance arts. I then studied towards a Bachelor of Social Sciences at Rhodes University, and that allowed me enough time to figure out what I wanted to do.

Siphesihle Ndaba
Photo: @ceecee_ndaba/Instagram

I was initially torn between the arts and commerce, but ended up triple-majoring in psychology, drama and economics. One of my highlights was writing and directing a production on rape culture on campus for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown while doing my second year. At the time, students were participating in rape protests on campus, and the ‘Reference List’ was circulating, which contained the names of students accused of rape.

The problem was that not everyone could place themselves at the frontline of the protests — some had anxiety issues while others were simply claustrophobic. But, many still wanted to participate. The play was followed by a Q & A session on what the management could do to make the university a safer environment — and, this gave platform to most students to voice their opinions. I did my Honours Degree in Dramatic Arts, specialising in applied and physical theatre as well as acting.

OWLAG really fostered my love for education, leadership and improving myself. Throughout my schooling career, I was an OK student. I was happy to make the top 10 every now and again [chuckles]. But, the energy at OWLAG encourages you to achieve more and do better. I did so many sport activities, and involved myself in many leadership portfolios.

I matriculated top of my class, something that I’m surprised by to this day. I knew that I wasn’t ‘not smart’ [chuckles], but I didn’t know that I could fulfil my potential to that degree. The school is amazing at making students believe in themselves, and we carry that energy into tertiary and beyond.

If acting hadn’t worked out, I would have pursued a degree in drama therapy. I would have done my Honours and Masters in Psychology, and then branched into Drama Therapy. I was supposed to do my Masters in Arts Management ... but that would have meant being at Rhodes full time for another two years.

I was ready to do it until I auditioned for Gomora. I received a call-back while on an academic travel bursary to London. Luckily, I was allowed to self-tape, and the producers liked me. When I returned, I re-auditioned and once again, they loved and wanted to work with me.

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