Sebe Leotlela Returns As Nettie In Next Year’s Run Of The Color Purple

Sebe Leotlela first stepped into the role of Nettie in the South African premier season of the musical The Color Purple in February 2018 at Joburg Theatre, to critical acclaim.

The character of Nettie is the sister of the story’s protagonist, Celie, and shows her sister unconditional love and support.  Although Nettie doesn’t bare her own children in the story, she is noted as acting as Celie’s protector and cares for Celie’s children. This caring, maternal nature is true of Sebe Leotlela herself, who recently gave birth to a little girl.

The role of Nettie is a significant one for Leotlela and she was acknowledged for her powerful performance by being nominated for a 2019 Naledi Theatre Award as best supporting actor in a musical.

Leotlela is excited to be returning to her role in the April 2020 season of The Color Purple.  Since becoming a mother, she is set to instill many of the lessons from the novel and musical in her daughter.

“I’m thrilled to be reunited with The Color Purple family and stepping into Nettie’s shoes again,” says Leotlela. “Nettie is such a strong willed character who often acts as her sister’s protector. As a mother I now fully understand what it’s like to bare a child and I couldn’t imagine having my daughter taken away from me. I will now approach my role with additional understanding and empathy towards Celie.”

“I absolutely loved playing the role. I think it’s important to keep portraying strong women who know what they want and what they stand for in life. It is important to keep spreading the message of female empowerment. We need to change the perception of how women view themselves,” Leotlela remarks.

The musical’s director in South Africa, Janice Honeyman, is also excited to know that Leotlela will be reprising her role as Nettie.

“Sebe is an actress with great presence and appeal. I loved working with her previously, and I’m thrilled to have her back in the company as Nettie,” says Honeyman. “She gives a really heartfelt and subtle performance, shifting with ease from a young girl to a mature missionary woman returning from Africa. She is definitely integral to our production – her return is welcome!”

Sebe Leotlela obtained her National Diploma in Musical Theatre at Tshwane University of Technology in 2010. Her professional stage debut was in the Tina Turner: Simply The Best show at Joburg Theatre. She has performed in numerous children’s theatre productions, such as Beautiful CreaturesDisney’s Jungle Book, Tinkerbell’s Pirate Adventure and The Swan Princess.  In 2012 she was cast in the international touring production of Dirty Dancing, and then two more international touring productions, The Sound of Music and Singing in The Rain

Sebe also played the role of the Disco Diva Candy in Bernard Jay’s production of Saturday Night Fever at The South African State Theatre. She has performed in two of Janice Honeyman’s pantomimes, Pinocchio and Snow White.  She is currently serving as assistant choreographer in this year’s pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Joining Sebe Leotlela on stage in The Color Purple next year are acclaimed South African actors Didintle Khunou as Celie, Lelo Ramasimong as Shug Avery, Neo Motaung as Sofia, Thokozani Nzima as Mister and Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri as Harpo. 

The Color Purple is presented by Joburg Theatre and Bernard Jay on The Nelson Mandela Theatre stage of Joburg Theatre from April 2nd to 12th 2020.

Tickets are available by phoning 0861 670 670, going online at or booking in person at the Joburg Theatre box office.  Theatre patrons can also book online and pay at selected Pick N Pay stores.


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