Dineo Nchabeleng's new lease on life
Dineo Nchabeleng, who once warmed our hearts as a child star on Generations, says motherhood has made her a better person.
After playing Angela Mogale on the soapie, she took a break from acting. But this was followed by nasty rumours of her being on drugs and being pregnant, which almost broke her.
"They were damaging to an extent. But I still believe, through it all, my work spoke for itself," says Nchabeleng.
"I think my parents took it personally, in the sense that they felt insulted as parents, but they have always been supportive toward my career."
The nearly 24-year-old actress had her bouncing baby girl 18 months ago. She believes motherhood is her greatest achievement despite being a single parent.
"Watching my daughter grow is so interesting," says Nchabeleng, "given her curiosity."
The actress, who debuted on Mzansi Magic's new telenovela Ring Of Lies as Sli this week, says she is ready to take on "any" new challenges.
"Motherhood has really been God's greatest gift to me. I'm a better human being now because of my daughter," says Nchabeleng.
"I now have an even greater purpose in life, apart from sharing my talent with the world. It hasn't been an easy road as a single mother, but my family has really been my solid support hub. They are truly amazing and I'm blessed to have been born to them, if anything."
She says the new drama series, produced by Penguin Films, follows the story of a bare-knuckle boxing champion, scouted by well-known manager Mandla (Masoja Msiza) in rural Limpopo.
But the parents of the aspiring boxer, Neo (Mpho Sebeng), are disapproving of his dream, so he runs away to Joburg during the night.
There, he meets and falls in love with Mandla's daughter, Sli (Nchabeleng), and then encounters his formidable opponent, Kabelo (Bohang Moeko).
This plot twist then serves as a catalyst that catapults Neo into a world of secrets, lies and betrayal.
"Playing Sli has been so much fun. But, in the same breath, it hasn't been easy," says Nchabeleng.
"Her storyline is intense, coupled with an emotional journey. But that said, this has been one of the most challenging roles I've ever played. Being back on set has been great."
Born in Mamelodi, Pretoria, she moved to Alberton on the East Rand.
"[But] we are back in Mamelodi now, and have been for the past seven years or so," she says.
"I attended Alberton Primary, and went on to the National School of the Arts, where I majored in music. After matric, I enrolled at Wits for a BA degree majoring in politics and international relations, which I still need to complete."
But her love for acting, for which she has no formal training, goes back to her toddler days.
"I've always been observant, so I tried to learn as much as I could on each set," she says.
"I don't know if this was my first choice in careers, but I knew I had a passion for entertainment, and would rather do what I love over what was expected of me.
"I started acting in dramas in primary school, and would compete against other neighbouring schools. My then Grade One teacher, Mrs Smit [I'll never forget her], suggested that my parents take me to an agency, and the rest was history."
Nchabeleng has now been in the industry for 17 years. But she never grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth.
"One would assume I had it easy because I was a child star, but instead, my mother was the toughest on me," says Nchabeleng.
"She never once wanted me to forget who I was, and I believe that has kept me humble. I had to do my homework and house chores after work. Work was work and home was her territory."
As for her private life, the actress has no plans of extending her own family any day soon. "There will be no more kids after Gabriella. But really, work is my second baby at the moment."
About having a child at what many consider a young age, she says: "Life is all about learning, regret is a hindrance to the learning."
Her next goal is to produce films and direct as well as finishing her degree.