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Ayanda Thabethe's big gamble pays off

By Emmanuel Tjiya | 2016-10-21 09:37:08.0

  • Ayanda Thabethe during The Mill Revise Softer photoshoot. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

  • Ayanda Thabethe during The Mill Revise Softer photoshoot. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

  • Ayanda Thabethe during The Mill Revise Softer photoshoot. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

  • Ayanda Thabethe during The Mill Revise Softer photoshoot. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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Ayanda Thabethe has accomplished in a year what many "it-girls" wish to achieve in a lifetime.

Just a year ago, the 30-year-old starlet left her posh job as brand manager at cosmetics giant L'Oréal in favour of a career in the unpredictable entertainment industry. In that short space of time, Thabethe has made a name for herself having secured various sought-after jobs.

"A year ago I would not have imagined that my life would be like this. I had just quit my full-time job. When I quit my 9-to-5 job I knew I wanted to focus on entertainment, but I did not think that I'd book such big jobs. It's just testament that when you take a leap of faith things do work out."

Earlier this year, Thabethe scored the role of a lifetime when she was cast as the newest vixen on the latest season of Mzansi Magic's hit TV drama Rockville. In past seasons, the same feat was afforded to fellow ingénues Mbali Nkosi and Khanya Mkangisa.

Thabethe, who prior to the role had a short-lived stint on Generations: The Legacy, says going into the role of stripper Aliyah in Rockville was nerve-wrecking.

"Playing a stripper took a lot of convincing. I wasn't really sure, because I don't want to be stigmatised as just a pretty girl. It wasn't until I learned of her (Aliyah) heart-wrenching back-story that I got into it. It gave the role some depth. I was super nervous also because for starters, it was my break-out role. On top of that I'm working with seasoned actors. It was a lot of pressure, but everyone was supportive and I learned a lot."

Thabethe hit one out of the ballpark in September when she was chosen as presenter of new entertainment show BET A-List, alongside singer and actress Nandi Madida (formerly Mngoma.

"One of my key highlights this year was when BET A-List held an award show to launch the show. So every industry giant was there, from the Fergusons to AKA and Bonang ... not forgetting Cassper Nyovest. I got to host them."

To put the cherry on top of her winning year, two weeks ago Thabethe was unveiled as the latest celebrity face for fashion brand Legit's summer range. She is following in the footsteps of big names such as Bonang Matheba, DJ Zinhle, Zizo Tshwete and Boity Thulo. However, Thabethe insists she is just trying to make her mark as the face of the brand rather than recreate the magic of the aforementioned stars.

"I still pinch myself, I can't believe that it happened. This is the gig that most girls in the industry dream of," Thabethe muses.

"In as much as I'm following in their footsteps, it's important to note that each time Legit selects a face it is looking at your personality and incorporating that into the range. To me it's just about keeping it real. So it's not as much as following in their footsteps but rather staying true to myself."

The KwaZulu-Natal-born star is the third-born of five girls. She was raised by a single parent, and her mom had to hold down three jobs in order to provide for them growing up. Thabethe has a BCom degree in communication management from University of Pretoria.

"I'm the middle child, which means I have middle-child syndrome. I have a competitive streak. As a middle child you always have that thing of, 'I'm going to stand out and shine'. But I grew up in a very loving home," Thabethe says.

She has recently been romantically linked to musician and Vuzu presenter Dash, and when the conversation shifts to her romantic life, she brusquely replies. "I don't talk about that at all. No comment on romance."