ZIMBABWE-born Canadian actress, model and film producer Natasha “Tash” Heschelle has opened up about being a victim of bullying during her teenagehood.
In a recent interview with Standard Style, Heschelle said after all the years, she still has a lot of insecurities she fights through every day and this has motivated her to embark on initiatives to raise awareness towards fighting bullying and suicide.
“I was bullied in high school because of my looks and just who I was. Those I considered my friends made my life unbearable from spreading false and nasty rumours about me, they ganged up on me, called me names and all that nonsense, and everyone thought I was that horrible person,” she said.
“They went out of their way to make fun of me for who I was, most things I had no control over for their own amusement. They posted hurtful things on social media [Facebook] about me and it hurt like hell. This led me to making poor choices, being laughed at even more and plunging into severe depression.”
The 23-year-old multi-talented actress said she was not looking for sympathy, but just gathered courage to share her story as she knows people who committed suicide because of being bullied.
“When I realised that being bitter was not going to get me anywhere, I decided to build an emotional wall to shield my tender little heart from all the pain,” she said. “My confidence was absolutely destroyed, and as someone who was interested in the entertainment industry, this basically meant that I was screwed. I hated myself, felt unworthy, hell I even questioned God.
“Imagine how much pain and suffering a person has to go through for them to actually decide that being dead is so much better? Some people are strong enough to get over it, some are not. I started working on me. I went to the gym, ate healthy, took some acting and dance classes and regained my confidence with a vengeance.”
Heschelle said she was labelled a prostitute, but has walked out of it stronger.
“Kids can be so mean. I don’t know if they realise that bullying someone can take an emotional toll on them. Some people don’t walk out of this at all, they commit suicide and leave pain and suffering for their loved ones,” she said.“Not to brag, but I am living the dream. I am young, my acting career is taking off. I run a successful business. I make six figures.”
Heschelle said she was open for partnership with those who share the same vision with her to raise awareness towards fighting bullying and suicide.
The actress said her life story had been that of determination and sacrifice as often skipped school to attend dance classes. She said her mother was her role model, as she urged her not to give up, adding that through her support she managed to produce her own television series.
Heschelle’s artistic prowess charmed organisers of the country’s flagship beauty pageant, Miss World Zimbabwe, who invited her for a performance at the 2006 edition.
In an effort to pursue her dream, Heschelle left Zimbabwe at the age of 16 in search of better opportunities in the entertainment industry. She migrated to Paris, France, to pursue acting while awaiting for her Canadian permanent residence visa to be processed.
However, things did not turn out as expected in Paris and she found herself homeless for several days, before meetinga Catholic priest who took her to a shelter.
A few months later, her visa was approved, and she moved to Canada to live with her mother Marisa Moyo, a registered nurse and businesswoman, and her younger brother Tanaka.
Heschelle appeared in several short films, and did several commercials for different companies.
She received the Best Artistic Achievement gong at the 2016 edition of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival.
Two years ago she was nominated for the Best Film award at the Zulu African Film Academy Awards.