It took just one word to change the life of Kaylin Soobramanian. "Sanibonani," he said, greeting a room full of top television industry faces, including famed casting director Duma Ndlovu, before he swept them off their feet with his impressive ability to speak isiZulu at the auditions for Imbewu, The Seed.
This is how the 19-year-old superstar landed himself an opportunity to star on Mzansi soapie, Imbewu, The Seed, where he now plays ThuSheleni, a 23-year-old hustler who works at a bar.
“Till this day, I still cannot believe that my fluency in isiZulu opened doors and opportunities I never thought were possible,” said Kaylin.
Life wasn't easy for this young actor, growing up. His family was very poor and Kaylin recalls living in a small RDP house in the most dangerous township of Bhambayi in Inanda - an area which is well known for its high crime rate.
“My grandmother wasn't able to pay rates and we were forced to move to Inanda. My mother was unemployed at a time and it was tough for me and my siblings,” he said.
But it was this tough start in life that would ultimately open the biggest door in his life!
Kaylin picked up isiZulu as a young boy, attending a crèche with only Zulu speaking children, where he was forced to learn the language in order to make friends.
“They gave me an alternative that I must learn Zulu if I wanted to be friends with them, I should or else they won't hang out with me. I became so excellent in the language that everybody was shocked when I opened my mouth,” added Kaylin.
Originally Kaylin dreamt of becoming a soccer star since he's an excellent player, however, acting came by chance into his life and he is grateful for the opportunity which has enabled him to change his and his family's life by taking them out of poverty.
After he was spotted by Director Madoda Ncayiyana in Inanda, who was in search of a Zulu-speaking Indian boy for a role in the movie in 2017, he couldn't wait to start acting.
“Even though I knew I would be on TV one day through soccer, I never thought it would be through acting. I was over the moon to get a chance to be an actor. I kept calling Ncayiyane asking about the movie as I couldn't wait, “ he said.
Kaylin started learning acting and attended acting workshops for a month and was then taken for Imbewu, The Seed auditions where he swept the directors off their feet.
“At the auditions, I felt welcome as if they expected me. It was my first time being around Mzansi's top actors, all in one room.
“I couldn't believe when I received a call notifying me that I got the part and I went crazy. I am forever grateful to Ncayiyane for his kindness towards me. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him."
“Working among legends in the TV industry such as the great Thembi Mtshali and Leleti Khumalo is a dream come true. I am honoured to have been given the privilege to work side by side with them,” he said.
His dedication enables him to perfectly balance his time between his acting and his acting classes. He admits that he was nervous at first but today he's comfortable with what he is doing.
Kaylin shared words of wisdom to other youngsters. He encouraged youngsters not to give up.
“In life, one needs to persevere as perseverance leads to success. Grab every opportunity given to you with both hands and most importantly, never give up on your dream. Success may come in different ways, at different times, for others it won't be easy, but never give up. Success is possible if you believe in yourself,” said Kaylin.
Kaylin and the character Thusheleni are no different except for the fact that ThuSheleni comes from the rural area and is older than Kaylin. The young star describes himself as a down-to-earth and humble individual who does not let fame and entertainment change who he is.
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