‘Dating apps have a bad reputation’: How the star of The Tina Turner Musical found love

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Ruva Ngwenya is a singer who is best known for playing the lead role in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. The 31-year-old shares her memories of her stepfather coming into her life, her first kiss at a school disco and meeting her partner on Bumble.

Ruva Ngwenya: “A man in a leadership position in his community is highly attractive to me.”

Ruva Ngwenya: “A man in a leadership position in his community is highly attractive to me.”Credit: James Brickwood

My parents split when I was two years old, and so I don’t have memories of growing up with my father. But I spent time with my paternal grandparents in Zimbabwe when my mum, Raviro, and I visited her parents who also lived there. I remember cooking with my gogo [grandma] and going to church and playing with kids in the streets. It’s where I picked up the African culture and language.

Mum was my core parent for those early years. She was young and beautiful and worked hard. Her hard work moved us from living in housing commission to our first home in Watsonia, in Melbourne’s north-east. She provided a fun, positive childhood for which I am very grateful.

My Aussie stepfather, David Campbell, came into the picture when I was in year three. I thought David was amazing and became a strong father figure in my life. He had three kids from a previous marriage, so we created this new family. When I was in year six, Mum and David had my little brother, Solomon.

David got me into playing the violin. He encouraged me to sing and to join a band. In my teens I played in jazz bars to build my confidence. He is reason I’m playing Tina in the Tina Turner musical. He is a really special man and I owe him everything.

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I haven’t spoken to my biological dad in years. As part of my journey, I know I have to mend that bridge. But right now, he’s literally a stranger. It’s a weird thing, as he’s one half of me.

At Kew High School, I was into girls’ team sports. Back then, music was a fun thing people knew I could do, but I didn’t make the connection between being a singer and loving to sing. I wanted to be a netball player.

My first celebrity crush was American rapper Nelly. I had a life-size poster of him on my bedroom door.

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