Ruva Ngwenya, star of TINA - The Tina Turner Musical

25 Martin Place has long been a place for arts and culture. Home to Australia's oldest theatre, Theatre Royal Sydney which originally opened in 1976 drawing crowds throughout the decades. This May, Theatre Royal presents TINA - The Tina Turner Musical starring Ruva Ngwenya as our own Australian Tina Turner.

We interviewed Ruva on her experience becoming Australia's Tina Turner, what inspires her and found out who her ROAR model is.


You’re the very first Australian-Zimbabwean to be awarded a leading role in an Australian theatre production, an incredible achievement. Did you ever dream of being on stage when you were young?

Growing up music was always a part of life. Walking to school back in grade 3 (and to this day walking!)  was/is always paired with singing!  I used to have concerts alone at home daydreaming about being on stage. But I don’t think I truly thought it would be a reality for me until a little later on in high school.


Tina Turner personally endorsed you to play the leading role depicting her own life’s journey and rise to fame. The stories in her lyrics are quite powerful, which one resonates the most with you?

River deep mountain high is my SONG! It has a strong personal connection for me, as the song and performance in high school that started my journey in the music industry and facing my talent head-on. Similar to Tina, it was a song and moment that unleashed the talent and belief in me to go after a dream.


Was there a person that inspired you to rise up and ROAR, to follow your dreams, and believe that in life anything is possible?

To be honest my entire extended family has played a part in that self actualisation and ability to follow your dreams and make something out of nothing. I come from a large migrant family from Zimbabwe who have conquered industries across the globe.  The success has become prolific. My family definitely played a part in giving me the confidence to go for it and not shy away from hard work.


Your mum made an incredibly brave decision to leave her homeland, determined to create a better life. She overcame many hardships and has since become a successful lawyer herself. Can you tell us about her and her amazing journey…

My mum migrated to Melbourne in the 80s before I was born. She came over as a maid with little prospects, requiring to complete high school English and assimilate in a new world. She went on to become a successful lawyer with her own business.

She has achieved so much while overcoming hardship including divorce, single motherhood, racism, classism and poverty just to name a few. She is an incredibly inspiring woman who exudes strength and class.  Her success not only benefits me and my immediate family, but she is constantly giving back and helping the greater Zimbabwean community and has made an incredibly positive impact on many lives within our family and community.


In the words of Helen Reddy, I am woman hear me roar, how would you describe yourself in 3 words?



What was the best piece of advice your mum gave you?

You are in control of your own life. No one is responsible for your happiness and success BUT YOU. So get to it!


You have been an inspiration and voice to many already, how would you like to improve the arts industry for the next generation of performers?

A massive question but if I had to give a snapshot, I would say…

Women like me shining on stages across Australia as the norm and not an exciting niche addition to a homogenous climate. I want to see a balanced entertainment industry that showcases all the versions of human in our society and does not misrepresent or under-represent our minority groups.


Tell us who you would celebrate this Mother’s Day for being your ROAR model and why?

MY MUM! For obvious reasons. Not only is she the woman who gives me unconditional love and support but she is a true example of the woman I strive to be and is always giving me incredible advice.


See Ruva as Tina Turner on stage at Theatre Royal Sydney this May! Click here to purchase tickets.