The multi-talented model and actress Nalitye Shan chats to Afterbreak Magazine about her modeling and acting career and how she balances everything with school.
Who is Nalitye Shan?
Nalitye Shan (21) is a Namibian born, Cape Town based final year university student, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Acting. She is a well-rounded story teller, stage and film actress, television presenter, model and occasional beauty pageant queen as well.
She calls herself a multi-lingual performer, as she is able to speak English, Afrikaans, German and her native home language, Oshiwambo. As a self-proclaimed modern day nomad, Nalitye hopes to continue fulfilling her wanderlust by travelling, whilst simultaneously building and working on her artistic crafts.
When did you know modelling and the entertainment industry was meant for you?
Let’s take it back to when I was still a child…
As a child, all I was ever interested in was sports and cars, never Barbie dolls. What surprised everyone though, was that I wanted to become Miss Universe. I would practice my pageant walk and wave in my boy shorts and sneakers. Some may have thought that I was a walking contradiction, but I just think that I lived the best of both worlds. I took part in my first pageant at age 4, and even though I didn’t win, that didn’t discourage me from continuing to compete in more pageants over the years.
The last beauty pageant I took part in was the Miss Signature cosmetics pageant in 2017, held in Johannesburg. I placed as the second runner up. Next on my list: MISS NAMIBIA. I’m joking. I also make jokes. Maybe I should add comedian to my bio as well. Perhaps I would consider taking part in Miss Namibia, just to fulfill 4 year old Nalitye’s dreams.
I somehow managed to convince my mom to fly us out to Cape Town, so that I could visit a few modelling agencies, in hopes of getting signed to one. When I was 15 years old, I signed my very first contract with a modelling agency. I kept flying out to Cape Town during school holidays to attend castings and shoot projects, until I moved here in 2016 for university.
Growing up, everybody in my household loved watching the acclaimed South African musical called Sarafina. There is a scene in the beginning of the film where Sarafina, the lead character, imagines herself as some sort of star. Whilst combing her hair, she looks at herself in the mirror and questions what exactly it is that stars do. Her response was “Nothing. Stars just be.” 4 year old Nalitye wanted to just be. This sounds very shallow, but in all honesty, that’s when the seed was planted. However, as I grew older, I was finally exposed to the actual and inner workings of the acting craft, and my love and appreciation for it grew beyond a superficial level.
How long have you been in the entertainment industry?
I never really know how to answer this question. Entertainment had always been part time for me. I have never actively pursued it full-time. However, my very first job was when I was about 14 years old, working as a TV presenter for Frenzy Specials, a kiddies holiday show on NBC. So to answer the question, I guess I’ve been in the entertainment industry for about 7 years now.
MTV Base VJ Search Top 2:
Describe the feeling when you were chosen for the MTV Base VJ Search 2018.
I suffered from a classic case of imposter syndrome. My very first thought was: How the hell did I manage to convince everyone that I’m good enough to be here with such seasoned entertainers? After managing to silence that little voice of skepticism and doubt in my head, joy followed. Pure joy.
What have you learned from this journey?
I’ve learned not to lose heart when things don’t go the way I want.
Not everyone can win, but everyone can be great.
The journey was an absolute blessing, however, we must keep it pushing now. Thank u, next. – Ariana Grande, 2018.
Who is your role model?
I don’t believe in the concept of role models. I don’t believe that anybody should aspire to be exactly like somebody else. We’re individual beings.
Do you for you, and only use others as inspiration to a certain extent.
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most powerful and influential women on earth. She built herself up to a one-woman media empire, despite having struggled with abuse and critics in her early life. Oprah serves as a daily reminder that your past does not define your future, and that with perseverance and dedication to your passion, you actually can do it all.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Let’s just say that there is beauty in the unknown. My life thus far has been lived according to school schedules and timetables. I am looking forward to finally discovering who I am and what I am capable of doing outside of these set boundaries. My hope is that I finally learn to be whole.
Words you live by?
“Ashes only fall where fire burns. You are a force. Feel everything.” -Malanda Jean-Claude
In other words: Never a failure, always a lesson.
Talk to us about fashion sense; how do you describe your style?
I wouldn’t refer to myself as a fashionable being so to say. Stylish… perhaps, on a very good day. I’m not really bothered with keeping up with all the latest trends. If I see something I like, I’ll wear it. However, most of the recent purchases in my closet consists of a mixture between retro and sports luxe items.
What are the basics one should have in their wardrobe?
Anything denim! Denim jeans, dungarees, jackets, skirts, etc. You can easily dress denim up or down without having to try hard. It’s a win win situation.
Describe your typical day:
Final year, final semester is no joke. I now understand Britney Spears’ 2007 meltdown. I have lectures (include theory classes, acting technique, voice training, movement and dance, accent dialect coaching, etc) from 9 A.M to 5 P.M, followed by rehearsals for my graduation play, which can sometimes last until 10 P.M. Every single week day. I try to attend a few modelling castings and acting auditions in between classes when I can, but I am honestly running on empty right now.
Send help. I’ve recently taken up meditation though, so that keeps me calm during these hectic times.
Growing up in Namibia; what you think is missing in the entertainment industry compared to SA? What is lacking?
It completely baffles me how we can obsessively love and show up in great numbers to support international acts, but simultaneously completely disregard our very own entertainers. Where is our local sense of community?
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
In regards to modelling and acting, I get to play pretend for a living. The kid in me is very happy about that. It is wonderful being able to place yourself in somebody else’s shoes for a while. In regards to TV presenting, it’s the polar opposite because I get to be myself. My personality is my craft in TV presenting, and it’s a wonderful thing being acknowledged for just being who you are. Nothing more, nothing less.
I enjoy doing what I do because it allows me to live the best of both worlds. All in all, its art. I live for it. I’ll die for it. -Nalitye Shan
How do you stay motivated?
Spirituality. I think it’s important to believe in a higher power, whether it be a God, the universe, or even a genie. I mean, different strokes for different folks hey. Spirituality keeps me grounded and on the right path.
Hollywood or Bollywood?
La la land, baby!
Bonang Matheba or Boity Thulo?
I could never choose between these two powerhouses.
Dillish Mathews or Maria Nepembe?
Women should uplift each other. Both.
California or New York?
Depends on the season. Cali summers and NYC winters.
Burger or Fries?
Fries. All day, every day. I just like potatoes in general. Fried, baked, cooked, etc. Yay carbs!