“Diamonds in the rough truly do shine when polished, but one has to make a conscious decision not be defined by their circumstances, rather to rise above those and be a beacon of hope.”
– Andrea Dondolo
Many South Africans know Andrea Dondolo as “Ayanda,” a role she played so well on SABC 2’s hit comedy series, Stokvel. She’s appeared on many TV adverts, shows such as When We Were Black, Home Affairs, Silent Witness, Instika and Traffic. Beyond the TV star lies a very humble and dedicated woman who has a futuristic approach to her art, and who has tenacity for business and leadership too.
Who are you?
I’m a Queen on the rise. I’m a humble village girl. I am Andrea Nomasebe Dondolo.
Where do you come from and what do you do?
I am from the beautiful Eastern Cape. I am an actress, storyteller, activist, cultural activist, community leader and business woman. I run Township Talent agency, Calabash Storytellers, as well as clothing business from my office, which is in Lookout Hill (Khayelitsha).
Those that know you very well will concur with the fact that you’ve been able to shift the focus from being a public figure to being a poignant community leader and activist, highly passionate about Khayelitsha – why have you gone through this shift?
In 1986 I enrolled as a Girl Guide in Lady Frere, that breezy winter morning changed my life forever when I was conferred as the leader of the Robins and took my oath “I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God; to help other people at all times and to keep the Guide laws”. Khayelitsha is my philosophical home and was my first adulthood ground fresh from high school, it embraced me and has taught me so much. The name itself represents a paradigm shift to me, a new home of thought, behaviour and otherwise.
After living in Johannesburg, you came back to Khayelitsha and realised what, which was extremely eye-opening?
Rather than what I realised, I am constantly reminded that South Africa needs patriots who will uphold, nurture and defend her honour through their beliefs and actions. This basically sums up my calling. This is the gist of what I really do.
Khayelitsha has produced many innovators, movers and shakers (Lufefe Nomjana, Monde Sitole, Luvuyo Rani, and others) – for you as an artist, what does this mean?
It means that diamonds in the rough truly do shine when polished but one has to make a conscious decision not be defined by their circumstances rather to rise above those and be a beacon of hope. It also means that the solutions to the problems we currently find ourselves in (as those living in the outskirts) are within us, and that we are enough.
How are artists evolving or adapting to the New Age of innovation and technology (if they are)? Like, if theatre used to be displayed in a certain manner ten years ago, how is it adapting to the fact that our generation is on social media, 70% of the time?
Lol I am usually perceived as controversial when I tackle evolution and artists coz my approach becomes militaristic. To evolve requires one to go back to basics and research trends and tactics. In other words, we need to stay authentic and keep relevant to the message we want to bring across, but we need to be creative in staying present and using the language used at this day in age.
Some people will look at you and think; “she’s got it all!” Are you facing any challenges? What are some of them?
(Laughs) If only they knew that I don’t have it all but I constantly push myself to achieve more, I am constantly battling with taming the two wolves living within me “Anger and Peace”. I am a firm believer in speaking positivity into your situations and living with gratitude. One of my greatest challenges is procrastination as I tend to over-think situations.
Who would have thought! So, what informs your daring spirit to just always be a fearless leader?
I didn’t know I am seen as a fearless leader. It’s my dreams that inspire me to be daring and the fear is the adrenalin that pushes me to the finish line. I believe being fearless means being mindful of your footprints and effects coz life is a boomerang.
What is the future of art & innovation in Khayelitsha – in your opinion?
If artists can break the shackles and get on with the business at hand, then they will get far. Being innovative means that you will fail more than succeeding and that is what life is about, a master has failed a million times before achieving one success. Resilience is key.
Finally, what’s in the pipeline for you?
A lot is on the pipeline; my mind is like a phone with a lot of apps open simultaneously. I am learning to prioritise though without stifling the child within.