The past weekend left many Africans beaming with pride as their screens were graced by their very own artists alongside Beyoncé in the singer’s Black is King visual album and musical film.
One such local actress is Nambitha Ben-Mazwi. Hailing from Port Elizabeth, Lady Nam, as she is popularly known, is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with international stars. She has starred opposite Laurence Fishburne in Madiba and also in the US hit show Black Mirror.
Speaking to DRUM, the 30-year-old actress says being handpicked by Queen Bey to be part of the Black is King cast was meant to be.
“How I connected with Black is King is pretty much a story of God intervening. I was meant to be in it and God made it happen because there’s no long story about how it happened,” she says.
“I was handpicked, Beyoncé handpicked me to be in her video. Of course, I got this through my agent Moonyeenn Lee who is now unfortunately late [the talent scout passed away on 18 July]. She was the casting director for Black is King,” Nambitha tells us.
On working with one of the leads in the film, Nandi Madida, Nambitha describes the experience as “amazing”.
“Working with my girl Nandi was amazing. We’ve been friends since varsity and we’ve come a long way. We had so much fun on set and I honestly feel like everyone who was picked to be on that team, including the crew and makeup artist, was a ball of energy. I was surrounded by great people with beautiful hearts. We honestly felt like we were doing something incredible because it was such a beautiful energy and we were all there in purpose and for what we stand for,” Nambitha explains.
Having been at the forefront of advocating for dark-skin magic through her women’s empowerment movement – #SheSpeaksByLadyNam, which was established in 2018 – her family of followers, predominantly girls and young women, aspire to be like her and Lady Nam says Black is King is an extension of what she believes in, which is “dark skin magic”.
“As Nina Simone says, ‘An artist’s duty is to reflect the times’. So, for me, this was such a personal message. It was an extension of my purpose as an artist and what I stand for. For me to see the reaction, it truly validates that I’m truly doing what I was meant to do and that [for] every young girl, I endeavour to change their lives through that video. Seeing that magic of darkness being celebrated and adored. Having a history of being teased and having self-esteem issues when I was younger because of the colour of my skin, it’s great to be part of a production with such a good message that says, ‘black is king’,” Nambitha shares.
Being a lover of fashion, the actress says her favourite part about being in the international video was the costumes.
“I absolutely loved the costumes. Putting on those dresses and beaded wigs made us feel so regal. I immediately felt so converted in the sense that I owned my power. That for me was the true essence of how powerful art is in every single form,” she says.
During the coronavirus lockdown, Lady Nam says she’s been able to find opportunities she wouldn’t have tapped into.
“I’m excited because when the pandemic started it was challenging for me, but I tapped into the entrepreneur in me. The pandemic has been a gift. The artist in me has been able to slow down and create and dig deeper into my craft. The entrepreneur in me saw a gap in the market to use my movement to push for a digital show that will spread my message,” she tells us.
Since the pandemic, Nambitha has hosted her #SheSpeaksByLadyNam series on Instagram Live in association with the Global Citizen Organization in support of the #TogetherAtHome campaign.
On Saturday 8 August, she’ll be chatting to Elsa Mpho Majimbo, a Kenyan comedienne who rose to fame through her funny viral videos. The theme is Being Unapologetic in Your Own Skin and the interview will go live at 5pm.