She recently moved to Durban to join SABC1 soapie Uzalo as Zekhethelo and has now ventured into the water business, possibly inspired by the calming effects of the warm currents of the Indian Ocean.

The Soweto-born lass has taken to water with a steamy and sexy swimsuit photo-shoot promoting her new business and showing off her svelte figure, but this was not always the case with Thibedi.

“For a long time I was not comfortable in my own skin. I grew up with a low self esteem. I didn’t know that I had a hot body or I was beautiful,” she confides.

“I was taught to find my worth in internal things like character, which is why I ended up being an engineer. When I got to the University of Cape Town, guys fussed about me. I wasn’t used to that attention. Then I realised that maybe I wasn’t bad looking. That’s when I started loving myself and my body.”

“It never occurred to me while growing up that I could be attractive. All that was drilled into my head was that I should get an education and have a good heart,” she says.

Thibedi says it was only when she was 19 that her first boyfriend affirmed her beauty. She started dressing differently by abandoning the tomboyish outfits that dominated her wardrobe.

“The first time I wore figure hugging costumes and shorts, I got compliments for days and that’s when I started feeling beautiful.”

Thibedi moved to the United States. While in New York she began to believe that she was indeed beautiful.

“People used to fuss about my looks, saying I was exotic. White men used to like me. I asked myself why I had grown up with such a low sense of myself. I started believing that I was beautiful and had a hot body.”

Thibedi says she learned about “pimping” during her sojourn in the US. A friend suggested that we make money for ourselves but the idea shocked her.

She also met famous photographer Thick Leeyonce who inspired her greatly.

“Here was this chubby lady and she was absolutely confident, having photo shoots by the beach. I wondered, if she is so confident why can’t I? I didn’t have body issues. I was toned, did yoga religiously and lived a healthy life. So I decided to have a photo shoot and it came out well. Thibedi says she is reaping the benefits of yoga.

“I do it mostly for mental reasons, to shut out the noise and try to go back to who I am. There’s a lot of pressure in the entertainment industry.

“The challenge of acting is that you open up your soul and everybody can see through you. It makes you vulnerable.

“Some actors end up doing drugs because there is so much emotional strain.

“Being well-grounded and rooted is a big issue. If you forget who you are in an industry that opens you up so much, you can just imagine how wrong things can go.”

Now at her most confident, there’s no stopping Thibedi. Her latest project – water – is bottled in Alexandra, Johannesburg, and sold at selected garages in Gauteng. She hopes to go national soon.

Her acting career is also on the up.

“I feel like I have just scratched the surface. My goal is to do movies concurrently with what I’m doing. I’m not looking to making more money from acting, that’s not my main goal. To do what I love is a privilege.

“I intend to create other income sources because I want my son to have a good life, hence the water project. Taking my art and business seriously will bring me success.”