Being an actress in a hit TV show means you’re often recognised wherever you go. It goes with the territory and Nandi Mbatha knows that – but she battles with it.

The fresh-faced 22-year-old beauty, who plays Simi on the Mzansi Magic telenovela Isithembiso, suffers from anxiety and often can’t cope when she’s in crowds.

She was diagnosed with the disorder 10 years ago. Nandi shares how she deals with it while she’s making a name for herself in entertainment.

COPING MECHANISMS

Her anxiety is often triggered by stress and “being in enclosed spaces, like lifts and on flights”. “If I’m in a stressful situation I take Rescue Remedy pills to calm me down,” she says. “I take them at least three times a week.”

But the best medicine is to avoid places where her anxiety could flare up. “I don’t go to the shops without preparing myself mentally.” She once had a panic attack while filming a scene on a rooftop.

“Luckily the crew knew of my situation and gave me Rescue Remedy. I used to be very quiet and reserved and people would think I was arrogant but I was just shy.”

HELLO, ACTING WORLD

Auditioning for the role of Simi was her first foray into entertainment. “I had a few modelling jobs after school and a few adverts, nothing major. When I read about the auditions for Isithembiso on social media I jumped at it,” she recalls.

She was the last person to audition and had to kiss Zamani Mbatha, who plays Zamani on the show.

NO KISSING COUSINS

It was only after the audition that the two found out they share the same surname, Nandi says. “In Zulu culture people who share the same surname are usually from the same clan and they’re related.”

But after getting to know each other and doing a little digging, it turned out their shared surname was pure coincidence. “My dad is a very traditional Zulu man and he wouldn’t have been happy if we were related.”

Her family has been super supportive of her, she adds. Her teacher mom, Zandile, and dad Mduduzi, a magistrate, are her biggest fans.

Her sisters, accountant Pamella (33) and marketing student Azanda (21), are also protective

of their sis. Not long ago Nandi was rumoured to be dating Zamani. “We’re like brother and sister. We’re not dating.”

SHE IS IN LOVE, THOUGH

Nandi is smitten with vocalist and producer Tellaman who she’s been dating for almost a year. “It’s weird dating someone in the industry because people are always watching you.”

They met through a mutual friend. Nandi says Tellaman’s calm energy also helps her manage her anxiety.

BEING SIMI

Getting into character on the Isithembiso set helps her forget her problems. Simi is such a juicy character it’s impossible not to give your all when playing her, Nandi says.

Simi is a young rural girl who leaves her home in KwaZulu-Natal to study medicine in the City of Gold. Simi is naive so she struggles to see the bad in people and is soon sucked into the dark underbelly of the concrete jungle.

Never a dull moment on this show – and Nandi is lapping it up. “I love Simi’s innocence. But she trusts too easily.”

LAW IN THE FUTURE

Like Simi, Nandi also comes from KZN and left her hometown, Newcastle, to study public management and governance at the University of Johannesburg, but she hated it.

“I initially wanted to study law, but there was no space. I dropped out during second year and enrolled to study law at Unisa instead.” She’s put her law degree on ice and luckily for her fans, Nandi isn’t going anywhere just yet.