Leleti Khumalo, best known for her role as the South African film Sarafina (1992) has not only pioneered as an actress but also an activist for the skin condition vitiligo.The actress discovered that she had the condition at the age of 24 and has not allowed it to deter her success.
Vitiligo is a skin condition in which the pigment-producing cells die or stop functioning. Leleti describes immediately coming to terms with her condition. Stating that although it has taken over her looks, she does not see it as something that defines her. The actress explains in the South African magazine True Love” I don’t want my life to be about my condition. I have it -so what? I am still an actress, mother, and wife.” She continues to add that the doctors told her that after her pregnancy the vitiligo would spread and she was content with that. Leleti Khumalo has shown herself to live past her looks, making her inner beauty radiate.
In her recent roles, we have seen her show her skin condition whilst still delivering a good performance on screen. Women like Leleti Khumalo give other women with the skin disease the confidence to embrace their beauty. Leleti Khumalo breaks the conventional mold of what is beautiful and the idea that skin has to be one even tone in order to be beautiful. Although she has, in her younger years had the classic, socially acceptable flawless skin; her ability to glow with her skin condition shows that she is definitely not affected by what is socially acceptable as beautiful.
We certainly look forward to Leleti Khumalo’s future on the screen, however, we also hope that her comfort with her skin on screen serves as a window for other girls with the condition to want to stand out and be proud as opposed to hiding behind make-up.
Written by: Nikiwe Buhlalu