2016's breakout star: Vanessa Ntlapo

Written by TVSA Team from the blog Interviews on 23 Mar 2016
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23-year-old Vanessa Ntlapo has turned out to be the breakout star of the year on SABC1's boxing drama JAB.

She's feisty and perfectly punchy as Bee Sondlo but we know very little about her. I've been quizzy about her since the series started so I caught up with her and discovered....

She grew up in Worcester, moved to Cape Town when she was 18 and she's been wrangling the city by herself since then. Her parents and the rest of her family live in Robertson and she lives in Observatory.
Vanessa: "I've been manning this city by myself since college days about five years ago."

She studied advertising at the AAA school of advertising where she did a BA in marketing and communications. She also has a full time job at an ad agency. She filmed the show while managing a 9-5.
Vanessa: I've always wanted to possibly get into acting - I did whole lot of acting at school in plays and I really enjoyed it but at the time I was scared to study acting and not have something to fall back 'cos I thought: "I think that I like this thing and I feel great when I'm doing it and I'm getting the compliments but what if I'm not good enough to do it as a career?"

I was like, "Cool, I'll study advertising." And of course it was also to appease my mom so I thought, "I'll have to get a "proper" degree."

Vanessa: I really enjoy advertising but acting is my first love and passion so we'll see where the world takes me.

She has an agent who she's had for a while - it's how she found out about the auditions for JAB. Seen her somewhere else before? She had a small role on's Traffic for three episodes.

She was reluctant to go the JAB casting - concerned about all the boxing.
Vanessa: "I was like, boxing, it's not really me but okay cool I'll try it, I'll do it. I went for the second casting - I didn't go to the first one - and I got the job a month later. At first I was excited and then I was, "Oh my goodness, I need to box! How do I box?? My body was in pain for two weeks after I started training!"

To prepare for JAB, Vanessa trained with the show's boxing choreographer Rushda Mallick, a professional boxer and trainer who mapped out a training schedule and diet for her which she started as soon as she landed the role. She started by training every day for two to three hours while still working her 9-5 job at the agency.

Once the show started fliming she took two months leave to film and to ensure that she could train in between. She continued her training throughout, 6 days a week.
Vanessa: When we were shooting, we would either do a morning session or after filming we'd do an hour from 19h00 to keep in shape.
As we hit the halfway mark of the show, there's lotsa fighting to look forward to. The biggest fight scenes happen towards the end of the season so Vanessa had to keep in shape throughout. By the time they filmed the final scenes she was even training on set. Any moment of possible rest was taken up with a punch.
Vanessa: In between takes I was literally with Rushda in the corner, pressing, lifting, jumping, running so that it could look real and great on TV.
True girl power!

Actors in this post: Vanessa Ntlapo

Shows in this post: JAB

Channels in this post: SABC1

1 Comment

23 Mar 2016 11:16

When she hits that punching bag, I could swear she is a pro boxer. She does all the basics of boxing well. What a talented lady.

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