WITH no acting training or experience, and being one of thousands of contestants, the Eastern Cape’s Tumie Ngumla won Class Act 2011, the acting talent scout show on SABC 1.
Port St Johns-born Ngumla was back home early this month for the launch of the Eastern Cape’s film festival – billed to be an annual event. The town has played host to a string of international productions because of its breathtaking natural beauty. Parts of critically acclaimed Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, were filmed there.
Ngumla is a natural comic who delivers one-liners with ease and can whip out hilarious facial expressions on demand.
During a photo shoot for Da Gama Textiles, in which she wears creations made from their original shweshwe, she takes to modelling with relative ease and gets into character for each outfit – girlish, chic, sophisticated or businesslike.
She is now based in Johannesburg and is working on a feature film while also juggling a voiceover gig. She also frequents auditions and is holding out for that special role.
Laughingly Ngumla recalls her unexpected win, as she had tagged along to Class Act 2011 auditions with an old school friend, Vuks Ngcingwana.
“I told him I’d accompany him, support him, not enter myself!” she exclaims, but he persuaded her to audition.
Ngumla went on to take the women’s first place, while Ngcingwana finished in the top 10.
Ngumla says she grew up in a strict Presbyterian home, church every Sunday and only top schools for the children.
“At the time of Class Act [the middle of last year], my dad and I weren’t talking to each other. I’d been home the Christmas before and had wanted to go partying with friends – I was 25 after all! But he said: ‘You’re not going out’.”
“I said, ‘Aw, dad!’ But he replied: ‘You know the rules of this house. You shouldn’t stay here if you can’t keep them.’ So there was a ‘Cold War’ between us after that.”
But when Ngumla reached the finals, her dad phoned her, saying: “I’m really proud of you. Why didn’t you tell me you were interested in acting?”
Ngumla explodes: “I was like, ‘Get me a gun! This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life!’”
“When I spoke to my parents about acting though, they were like, ‘No way – the way you are [a little rebel], you’ll do drugs!’
“I had thought of teaching – I love kids.
“But when I heard how little teachers earn I thought, no way. I mean I still want a yacht …”
At the time she “tagged along” to the auditions, she was busy with a marketing management course in Cape Town, which she said she hated.
“I can understand why some people don’t make it in acting,” Ngumla muses. “It’s hard work. There’re a lot of early mornings.”
What about marriage?
“It’s down the line,” Ngumla says. “I want to have a fluffy dog and picket fence and five little mini-me’s but not now. It’s Tumie time now.”