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Nelisiwe Sibiya talks about hardships she experienced before stardom

From sleeping in bathrooms to surviving abuse, the actress has been through the most

15 July 2021 - 07:00 By Joy Mphande
Nelisiwe Sibiya opened up about tough times on her journey to stardom.
Nelisiwe Sibiya opened up about tough times on her journey to stardom.
Image: Instagram/Nelisiwe Sibiya

There are many celebrities in the entertainment industry that have come from humble beginnings and managed to make a name for themselves and actress Nelisiwe Sibiya is one of them.

Her recent Instagram post, where she revealed that during one of the toughest times in her life she had no choice but to sleep in a bathroom at a mall for six months, left many of her fans gasping with astonishment.

“One day I'll tell you a story of how I used [to] sleep in the bathroom for six months at The Glen Mall working as a promoter ... Ei Ngoba ngibuya kude ngizama impilo (because I've a come a long way in life),” she wrote.

Talking to TshisaLIVE, the actress said that it was important for her to share unfiltered stories about her journey to stardom so that people can be inspired and not pressured by social media.

“I chose a long time ago that I will not post anything that will make others feel less than who they are because social media plays a huge role in people's lives. It's hard times for people and we can see that people are going overseas when there's people who can’t even receive a R350 grant,” she says.

The Durban Gen actress further told her story about how she went from being a promoter for new juices, fragrances and chocolates on the market at Glen Mall to where she is today.

“I used to work as a promoter because I had to save money to take myself to school,” she said. 

Nelisiwe revealed that because she had to travel from Duduza, in Joburg's East Rand, to Glen Mall every morning she caught a lift from a friend in the early hours of the morning to get to work, which would lead to her sleeping in the bathrooms.

“I'd have to go and sleep in the bathroom before I'd start working. That happened for six months and no-one knew. There was another woman who used to work in the bathrooms who eventually started leaving a blanket for me ... I wish she could see me now,” she recalls. 

Nelisiwe added that it took sickness for her family to know the truth about her situation. “It was a secret, in fact I only told my family after I stopped sleeping in the bathrooms because ... when I started getting sick I realised it was because I was sleeping in the bathroom.”

There are many hardships that Nelisiwe says she wishes she could speak about, including that she and her family moved from house to house because her mother did not have a house of her own. Another is the abuse she and her late mother suffered at the hands of a family member after she moved to Johannesburg when she was nine years old.

“When we were staying in Joburg. We were staying with my aunt and things were not nice there. There was a lot of abuse that I never even spoke about ... they ended up throwing us out of the house and we went to stay in a shack.” 

Nelisiwe says that while she is healing from her past she is using it as motivation to have a thriving career as an actress and to eventually start a business that will host seminars for young girls.

“I realised that there are young people who want me to mentor them and I don't know where to start but ... Me sharing these stories bit by bit, it's a way of me healing, it's a process. I look at my life now at the age of 29 and I think of the 20 years of my life. When I'm finally healed, people will hear everything ... people will hear everything that has happened in my life.”