Atandwa Kani

Styles and Buntu

Atandwa Kani is a South African actor who made his United States television debut in the program Life is Wild. In 2009, Atandwa starred in season five of Life is Wild’s sister show, Wild at Heart, and returned to the show in its sixth and seventh series in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Atandwa was born in Port Elizabeth. As the son of well-known South African actor, writer, and director John Kani, he was exposed to the entertainment industry at a young age and after spending time with his father while reading scripts and attending theatre performances, he was inspired to follow in his footsteps. He studied at the University of the Witwatersrand and graduated with an honors degree in theatre performance in 2008. At Wits, he was awarded the Leon Gluckman Award for best research project. His lead roles in student productions include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Much Ado About Nothing, Once on This Island, Translations, and I Need a Gun. He made his international stage debut in The Tempest (for which he received a best supporting actor Fleur du Cap nomination), a collaboration be­tween the Baxter Theatre Centre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, in which he played Ariel alongside his father (Caliban) and Sir Antony Sher (Prospero). One reviewer described him as “the star of this production ... he was a true pleasure to watch, embodying the character and interacting beautifully with the rest of the cast.” Sean Hewitt of the Nottingham local news site wrote of his performance that “in the musical scene-stealing Atandwa Kani, the best Ariel I’ve ever seen.” Atandwa premiered two new plays, Hayani and ID Pending, which explore ideas of home and identity for young South Africans in very different ways, at the National Arts Festival in 2009. Both plays were created with fellow actor and Wits graduate Nat Ramabulana. In association with the Drama For Life Company Laboratory, Atandwa and Nat took Hayani to Cape Town (Baxter Theatre) and Johannesburg (Market Theatre). They were rewarded with a number of Naledi and Fleur du Cap nominations, and scooped the 2014 Naledi Theatre Award for best new South African script. Atandwa also played the role of Thabo Mbeki in a Paul Grootboom-directed production of Rhetorical in 2012, for which he won a Naledi Award for best new­comer/breakthrough actor in 2013. He went on to perform in Sylvaine Strike’s The Miser, for which he received another Naledi nomina­tion. Atandwa was also involved in the 40-year celebration of The Island, written by John Kani, Athol Fugard and Winston Ntshona and performed at the Market Theatre in 2013, under the direction of John Kani. He has appeared in True Love magazine’s “In Bed With...” feature and was involved in the unveiling of the 46664 legacy bangle as MC, alongside Tokyo Sexwale and Hlubi Mboya. In 2010, he was a regular in the SABC youth series Soul Buddyz and the fol­lowing year, he featured in the third season of the SABC2 political series 90 Plein Street, directed by Khalo Matabane. More recently, he starred in the new SABC3 drama series High Rollers by Rous House Productions and in the American television series Royal Pains. Atandwa was also one of the few South Africans chosen to be part of a brand-new American series titled Book Of Negroes, acting alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. Atandwa appeared in his first soap opera, Muvhango, in the role of Dr. Mongezi Zwane, before briefly featuring in Generations as “sexy chef” Samora. Among his recent big screen credits is Anant Singh’s Long Walk To Freedom, in which he played the young Nelson Mandela.


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