Hot on the heels of South African actress Pearl Thusi, who debuted in a historical role in the American series Quantico, 27-year-old Phumzile Sitole will this year grace the silver screen in a CBS production, as well as a short film alongside the daughter of Denzel Washington.
Living the dream of thousands of young South Africans hoping to take their acting careers abroad, Sitole is refreshingly modest about her achievements as an actress and voice-over artist living in Brooklyn, New York.
She moved to the Big Apple and the University of Columbia to pursue a Master of Arts degree, which she completed last year.
The Johannesburg-born actress can be seen alongside Olivia Washington in Shakti Bhagchandani’s shortfilm Lostfound at this year’s Sundance Festival. She also plays a role in a new CBS series The Good Fight, set to air in May this year.
Asked about the pressures of representing South African talent oversees, she said only her work and her approach to it speaks for her in this capacity.
“I don’t find myself particularly trying to represent South Africa – we are a colourful palate of skill and talent cultures so I alone cannot truly represent the country,” she explained.
“It’s always great meeting fellow South African artists here as well, collaborating with them and bringing stories from home to share in this international context is something people really respond to here.”
Her illustriously populated resume reads like a performance artist’s dream. Sitole’s voice-over client list includes Nike, Dettol, Standard Bank, First For Women and KFC.
She also boasts a long list of local and overseas theatre productions she has performed in since 2009.
“Right now I’m beginning work at a theatre called Classic Stage Company in Union Square, playing a role in the Shakespearean play Comedy of Errors. We get to perform for a lot of students and also work in the schools themselves, which is always fun,” she said.
Having once presented a cooking show on SABC while she was in high school, between 2006 and 2007, Sitole was looking forward to being back on the small screen this year.
She offers a word of caution to other South African budding professional artists: “Just because you want to do what you love doesn’t mean it will always be fun. It’s been a tough stretch for me and still is, but it’s worth it if it’s what you truly actually want to be doing. If you can see yourself doing anything else, do that instead.”