Meet Rosemary Zimu, actress, songwriter, musician, model, entrepeneur, star of the Netflix South African drama Savage Beauty and YAZA IKON - just don't call her a role model!
Although she has been appearing on our screens since what she calls her "big break" in 2015, when she landed a national TV commercial, Rosemary is loathe to call herself a role model, instead saying: “Little old me as a role model, really? It’s a bit scary to think of that but because I know myself, know who I am and whose I am and what I want it’s inspiring for me to have people look up to me and love what I’m doing - so of course I want to inspire and aspire but it is scary to be considered a role model.
Telling the tale of Zinhle Manzini, a troubled woman seeking revenge on a family who inflicted experimental horrors upon her years before, Rosemary explains that Savage Beauty tested her acting abilities in ways she didn't know possible, but was one of the best experiences of her life, saying: "Working with Netflix was so exciting and it was definitely a dream come true, every single moment of it was amazing.
"It would be easy to say that it was so tough but any time I felt that something was too hard, I had the cast and crew on set waiting to help, and I’d just run to somebody. The directors, my goodness, they were really my chairs in this thing, they really held me up. There were a lot of times that I’d be too scared or too anxious to try something but the people who were there with me made it so easy, I never would have thought that leading something so big wouldn’t result in sleepless nights but it didn't, it was really really good.
However, before anybody watches and starts to think that Rosemary is anything like the vengeful Zinhle, she's keen to point out that she's the exact opposite, calling herself a "scaredy cat who's afraid of confrontation". However, the one area where Rosemary is exactly like her character is that she too puts family before everything else.
"Acting started in preschool and Sunday school and I just always wanted to be on stage and become a character that I never imagined becoming and exploring this acting thing, I think having somebody like my Gran support and push me into it ignited a fire inside of me to stay within the flow of acting," she explains.
"Not a lot of Black parents understand the industry, they don’t see what we see until we get it inside it and show them."
Never Quite Right
"Hearing no is not easy, it’s really not easy, especially when you think you’ve got a part. I think it was more difficult back then but now I take the nos as not yets. Prayer, basketball and therapy in that order help me stay grounded.
"I don’t think I’d be anywhere without prayer, without my belief and my spirituality and the man above. Basketball helps me mentally, I’ve been playing for so many years that when I hold the ball and am on the court I feel like nobody but myself, nobody but Rosemary which is very important with acting because you go in to so many roles and become so many people you can’t ever forget who you are.
"Therapy has helped me much... my therapist has really helped me keep my mental health healthy and knowing who I am within the whole thing."
And its therapy and learning to accept who she is as a strong Black woman that has impacted so much more than just Rosemary's acting career, in fact, she credits it with an upcoming return to music, after a long break away from the recording studio.
"I did take a very long pause, but I am looking to get back into it. I miss being in the studio," she says. "I really miss sharing that side of me but at the same time I think now that I’ve grown, coming back now is better than if I’d come back last year. I have grown and I do know now what I want to speak about in my music, what I want to share, how I want to share it and who I want to be within the music industry."
Surrounded By Queens
However, one thing of the things that upsets Rosemary the most about the entertainment industry is when the media pits women against each other, instead of rising everybody up.
Staying closer to home, Rosemary explains why her mothers - yes plural - are her ultimate heroes.
"There are so many queens in my life that play a very big part in who I am and who I’m becoming. My mothers - my biological and my stepmother- have been through the most as women in this world, in this provence, and they have always been so strong. They have shown their weaknesses but turned it into something that makes them stronger, and that’s something I take from each of them.
"We all have different journeys and yours is just as beautiful as the one you aspire to be in or the one that inspires you."
And for those looking to Rosemary for advice on how to become their most authentic self? She keeps it simple and says "don't forget who you are".
"We are all stars! We all have different journeys and yours is just as beautiful as the one you aspire to be in or the one that inspires you. Don’t forget who you are, research, learn and stay wanting more from what you want. Manifest, pray and stay beautiful. Stay beautiful as much as you absorb everything around you, give your energy out too so that everything around you knows you. And never give up.”
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