Rhythm City’s Chicken: Nelson Ntombela, from rags to riches

Rhythm City actor Nelson Ntombela’s (Chicken from Rhythm City) rags to riches or zero to hero journey has been hailed by many as art imitating life.

Chicken’s Rhythm City Break

Nelson became a household name thanks to his character as Chicken in e.tv’s soapie, Rhythm City. Ntombela aptly portrays leader of the 68s gang in the soapie. Ntombela started as an extra before his breakout role of Chicken. Before long he had captured the attention of many directors and producers; scoring small roles in Isidingo, Generations: The Legacy and Isithembiso. His short stint with The Queen as Skhali the hopeless romantic proved to be a showstopper.

He didn’t have acting experience, aside from a short stint at The Market Theatre in 2008 in physical acting.

“Acting became a calling for me. It’s something I didn’t go to school for, but I’m doing it and respect the craft like I have a diploma. Acting is my baby,” he says.

The 33-year-old actor is in real life a reformed gangster who has done jail time.

“The character is a walk in the park,” Ntombela says.Growing up wasn’t easy because I grew up under the umbrella of gangsters. People used to be afraid of me because of the people I used to hang out with and the things I used to do.”

Ntombela strongly believes acting saved his life. He made his debut on Rhythm City as a prison inmate with no name who terrorised Suffocate (Mduduzi Mabaso) and Sabelo (Ishmael Songo).

He later cameback on the show, bringing more trouble and his character this time had a name – Chicken.

“Whenever I dress, I will always wear clothes with a chicken logo,” he says

Learn more about Nelson Ntombela, Rhythm City, from the 8 facts below

1. 33 year old Nelson Ntombela hails from Kagiso, a Township outside Krugersdorp, West of Johannesburg.

2. Like many kids growing up in a poverty-stricken area, he had to overcome many obstacles which involves crime, drugs and other things associated with peer pressure.

3. At the age of 16 he was detained at in a juvenile prison for armed robbery.

4.The turning point of his life was the passing of his mother. Her death helped him leave his criminal ways, and led him to live an honest life as artist.

5. He actually goes around carrying a live chicken in social events around his home town of Kagiso, and that is how the name of Chicken made its way to our screens.

6. While in Prison he was one of the leaders of the gang that he was part of. As such, he knows all the gang languages spoken in prison, 26’s, 27’s and the 28’s and he uses that to enhance his role as Chicken on Rhythm City.

7. His sense of style led to him being synonymous with the izikhothane street pop culture when it emerged in 2008. Because of that, Nelson therefore sees himself as the founder of that lifestyle.

Chicken Rhythm City

8. He is passionate about soccer, and has a scar on his right foot that he got while playing



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