(Amanda Kunene. Pic: Idols SA)
In 2012, then matriculant, Amanda Kunene sang her way to the finals of the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Scholarship Programme. Since winning a Scholarship, the young starlet has performed across the country and currently holds a place in the Idols SA Top 16.
“Winning an ACT Scholarship has changed my life completely,” says Kunene, “not only have my dreams of going to university come true, but I have been given the opportunity to further my knowledge on what I am passionate about.”
Since 2009, ACT has been supporting arts students through their Scholarship Programme. The only difference this year is that with additional support from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), ACT is also able to make Scholarships available to first and second-year university students.
After winning a Scholarship in 2012, Kunene used the funding to enrol at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard Campus. There she completed a three-year undergraduate degree in Music and Drama Performance.
Pieter Jacobs, Chief Executive of ACT says; “It’s very rewarding to see our Scholarship recipients achieve their goals and realise their dreams. We are tremendously proud of Amanda for making it to the top 16 of Idols SA and wish her the very best as she embarks on this exciting journey.”
Since graduating, Kunene has been performing around her community and around South Africa. “I was also given the opportunity to represent Africa at the ANOC Olympic Gala Dinner in Bangkok, Thailand in 2014 with the legendary Madala Kunene,” she says. Kunene believes this artistic and educational whirlwind has helped her grow both as a person and a performer. “Being able to step on different stages where phenomenal artists have performed is such a humbling experience. I am really fortunate to be able to do what I love and to work with well-respected individuals in the entertainment industry.”
During this year’s popular production of Idols SA, Kunene wowed the celebrity judges, who granted her with a covetable Golden Ticket during the first round of auditions. This ticket fast-tracked Kunene to the Top 16 of the competition’s 12th season. “Being on Idols has been a wonderful experience,” she beams. “And being chosen to be in the Top 16 has been the most amazing experience ever!”
Gracing the small screen on a weekly basis has garnered Kunene a throng of fans. Every Sunday, the hashtag #AmandaKunene floods Twitter with messages of praise and support for the talented young songstress.
She firmly believes her studies, which were made possible through the ACT Scholarship Programme, helped to get her to this point in her promising career. When asked what her advice for this year’s Scholarship hopefuls would be, Kunene says; “continue believing in what you love”. “You are your biggest competition in life, never compare yourself to others because there is no one else like you on this earth,” she continues. “Respect is the most important thing in life, humble yourself, and always be willing to learn.”
Kunene, who is currently working towards her Honours degree, firmly believes that hard work and practice make perfect. "Live and walk in gratitude because pressure builds diamonds," she concludes.
After a nationwide audition process, this year’s finalists in the Grade 12, first and second years ACT Scholarship finals have been selected. The first and second years will go head-to-head in final showcases hosted in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and the Scholarship recipients will be named at each respective event. The six Grade 12 scholars will showcase their talent at a glittering grand finale on October 10 at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. These winners will also be named on the night.
Funded by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), and supported by the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Organisation (DALRO) and the Nedbank Arts Affinity, the 2016 Scholarships Programme will change the lives of dramatic arts, singing, dance and musical theatre scholars and students with scholarships to the value of R800,000.
For more information, visit http://www.act.org.za/programmes/scholarships.html