Behind the Beauty of South Africa’s Gem, Rosemary Zimu.

As the curtain rises on the much anticipated second season of the original Netflix series, lead actress and Savage Beauty alum Rosemary Zimu proves that she is in this for the long haul. While she won audiences over with her captivating portrayal of her character Zinhle, her journey to arrive at that destination has been one of resilience, transformation, and indeed, celebration. 

Zimu’s story began in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she was born and raised. From a very early age, she quickly identified that she had a passion for the arts, immersing herself in both drama and music, where her talent quickly became difficult to avoid. Leaning into her acting abilities, she went on to make her mark in the entertainment industry starring in critically acclaimed South African soap operas like Isidingo, Generations, and Scandal!, where people started to pay even more attention to her. However, it was her role in the Netflix series Savage Beauty that solidified her status as a household name. 

Playing the character of Zinhle, a woman consumed by seeking revenge, Zimu delivered a performance that was as haunting as it was powerful. Her portrayal struck a chord with many, causing a deep introspection of human emotions and the complexities of seeking revenge as well as questioning our morality around the concept. Her intense dedication to her craft is a quality that has earned her both critical acclaim and a loyal fan base. She would go on to be nominated at the South African Film and Television Awards in the Best Actress in a TV Drama category in 2023. While Savage Beauty brought her widespread recognition, Zimu remains grounded, using her platform to inspire others. As she continues to elevate in status, she also challenges herself with diverse roles, aiming to break stereotypes and broaden the narrative around African women in film. Through her journey, Zimu leaves us pondering the true cost of revenge and the value of forgiveness. Her message, as we perceive it to be, is clear: while revenge might offer temporary satisfaction, it is the path of resilience and inner beauty that leads to lasting fulfillment.

In your own words, tell us who Rosemary Zimu is and a little bit about your background.
Talking about myself always makes me feel weird, lol, but Rosemary is a God-fearing, hard-working, loving and I’d like to believe kind too. I’m all about making people feel good about themselves. I love my job, my family, my dog, my partner, and my friends. I enjoy sports too(basketball, soccer, and Netball) I played basketball for the longest time and even coached. Grew up loving movies, cartoons, music, and acting in school plays. 

Congratulations on the second season of “Savage Beauty” on Netflix. What inspired you to pursue a career in acting, and where did the journey begin?
Thank you very much! I’ve always loved acting. When I was younger, my gran would literally make us act things out when the lights were out. She definitely made me fall in love with the arts and also showed me how creative I can be. In her living room is definitely where it started for me and after that, I made sure to be in every single play at school. I Got a really good break and 2015 when I shot champagne and the rest is still happening. 

Can you share a pivotal moment in your early life that shaped your journey as an actress?
I think I definitely answered this question in the second one. But besides the love being instilled in me by my grand I would say another pivotal moment would be when I actually booked champagne. It was my first time on a set. I literally had no idea what I was doing but more than anything I wanted to learn. 

Who has been your biggest influence in the industry, and how have they impacted your story?
I’ve had so many! The list is literally endless. Nthati Moshesh, Terry Pheto,  Mpho Sebeng, Zola Nombona, Angela Sithole, Hlengiwe Lashaba – Madladla, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Camilla Waldman and Thuso Mbedu. That’s not even half of it but these are ladies that not only do I look up to right now but most of them are people that I would look at before I even got into this industry and be like wow! just wow! I love their work, I love how they carry themselves, I love how they love and I can say this because I have had the privilege of meeting them and even working with some of them. I am so grateful and I wish I could just give them their flowers every single day. 

Tell us how you landed the role of Zinhle in “Savage Beauty,” and how you prepared to deliver for such a layered character.
LOL, I actually love Questions like this because I can just say I like everybody else and I was just blessed enough to get the job. The preparation for the role was long and needed a lot of research and it needed me to strip myself completely to become the character. She really is layered and in order for me to carry all her layers I needed it to let go of some of mine. I watched a lot of movies that had to do with revenge. I watched a lot of series that were women-led and I also just did my research on skin bleaching and skin burns and just how that affects people.

As you step into the new season, talk us through Zinhle’s evolution as well as what can fans expect from her character’s arc.
In this season, Zinhle is alone and vulnerable and in pain and I think all of those things combined just really put her in a space and she almost loses control of things. Literally loses her life. This also shows how revenge is just not worth it and for her, I don’t think it is worth losing her life, but she really wanted the truth to come out. 

Beyond the character, how has your journey with the show impacted your growth and aspirations as an actress?
The journey with the show has really been amazing and it has opened up a lot of doors for me that I did not expect to be open. I love it because the platform that it is on is global and that means not only South Africans now know me the whole world does. They know my work and for me SAVAGE BEAUTY 🎬 has been an audition for a lot of big international rules and I am super grateful for that. 

How has Zinhle’s quest for revenge in “Savage Beauty” influenced your perspective on revenge in real life? Is it really worth it?
Easy! It is not worth it!

In portraying a character driven by revenge, did you find yourself questioning the morality of Zinhle’s actions, and how did you navigate that as an actress?
As an actress, I do not judge my characters so while I was acting as Zinhle, There was never a point where I questioned what she was doing because I was her. Only now that I watch her as Rosemary I can be like you know that was just too much. 

What kinds of future roles or projects can you tell us about that you are most excited to pursue, and why?
I’m not gonna tell you about anything that is going to come out, but just beyond the lookout. It’s nothing personal LOL. Nobody knows what’s coming except me and God. Just know that there is a lot that is coming. The one thing I will tell you about though is the movie that I shot in Ghana titled NINE. It is making its rounds literally around the world right now. it went from Johannesburg To France and now it is going to be viewed in New Orleans at the Essence Film Festival. 

Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to those who look up to you, especially those from your home country, what would it be?
Love yourself, love God, and love those around you. Do not take for granted what you have and try to remain present in every situation. Stay grateful, stay prayed up, and never let your lows Define you.