Leleti Khumalo reveals that she is now comfortable with her skin-condition

In commemoration of World Vitiligo Day, we revisit our inspiring 2018 interview with legendary actress Leleti Khumalo , who opened up about living with vitiligo and how she learned to love herself.

Johannesburg – She’s one of the most familiar faces on Mzansi’s celebrity landscape, gracing magazine covers and appearing in hit films. But even fans who’ve followed her stellar career for years will see her now as never before. This time there’s no warpaint covering her gorgeous skin. Instead Leleti Khumalo (48) is showing every white patch on her body in new e.tv drama series Imbewu: The Seed.The actress, who shot to fame as a teenager in Sarafina!, is also trying her hand behind the scenes as a producer for the show. But it’s her role as MaZulu that’s bound to get the nation talking, partly because of the juicy role and also because Leleti’s has shown her skin condition for the first time onscreen.






She only has an hour to spare between filming, Leleti tells us as she steps off the set. She settles into a chair and gets straight to the point: after years of hiding her skin under layers of make-up to mask her vitiligo, she’s on a mission to educate people about the condition in which the skin loses its pigment.

“I used to cover my white patches with make-up but for Imbewu I did not be cover it. People get to see me without the make-up,” she says. “I had a long discussion with the creators of Imbewu and they actually allowed me to do it. My plan is to educate people about vitiligo but I also don’t want to do a half job. I’ll be doing educational talks on vitiligo and I’d obviously want the talks to have an impact.”

Leleti, who has openly spoken about her condition, started developing vitiligo at the age of 19 but as a young woman growing up in the township of KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal, she didn’t know what it was. “It was pure ignorance on my part,” she says. “In fact, I didn’t even know what it was until I became pregnant.”She takes a deep breath then continues. “It’s deeper than what people see as it affects every aspect of your life – although it’s not painful, it is incurable. “My doctor warned me it’s going to be worse after giving birth, but at that point it didn’t bother me as I was too excited about the babies,” the mom of four-year-old twins Yamukelani and Ulwenzile says.But her joy soon turned to despair, then depression. When she became pregnant in 2012, Leleti was expecting triplets and not twins – but tragically lost one baby at birth. “Losing my baby was one of the hardest moments i n my life,” she reveals. “I was left with too many questions – I cried, I prayed and I blamed myself. It was a double tragedy for me as I had to deal with my skin condition at the same time.

Her broken heart wouldn’t have healed were it not for the support of her husband, Skhuthazo Khanyile. “We dealt with the loss of the baby and he assured me he still loved me despite my skin condition. “These babies are the best thing that has ever happened to me,” she gushes. “In my previous marriage I tried everything to have babies, but nothing worked.” Leleti was previously married to playwright Mbongeni Ngema, who created Sarafina!. “I’m not sure where I’d be had I not met Mbongeni,” she says of her ex. “Maybe I’d be far with my career or I wouldn’t have made it. What I know is he gave me a good platform.” A year after her 13-year-marriage to Mbongeni crumbled, Leleti met businessman Skhuthazo and “it was love at first sight.” She credits her beloved husband for helping her love herself, flaws and all. Her skin condition, which had got progressively worse during pregnancy, paled in comparison to the loss of her baby but it also troubled the popular actress.