“Being black is a beautiful thing but you are born into a struggle.” — Ayanna Presley


Film & Media


Durban University of Technology

Philisiwe Twijnstra, 35, is a scriptwriting and acting lecturer at the Durban University of Technology. Her teaching focuses on writing for television, film and theatre, as well as theatre acting and analysing theatre text.

Apart from being a diverse and deeply imaginative writer, Philisiwe is also a great collaborator. She is gifted in coordinating creative projects and incentivising artists of all backgrounds and has received various awards, including the fringe award for best digital experience play and the good theatre award for best performer, as well as being the 2023 recipient of AWPN/Ghana Playwright Academia Theatre Residency.

Philisiwe has a master’s degree in creative writing from Rhodes University and a digital platform dedicated to reviewing and holding open discussions about African literature.  She has toured multiple cities, nationally and internationally, for her theatre and scriptwriting.

Philisiwe participates in the literary sphere in South Africa, and continually makes it a point to uplift others. “I believe that young girls, boys, and young queer people should have a better experience of being creatives. I want to contribute to a safer space for art, create authentic work, and develop myself by developing others. To live in a world filled with passion and art,” she says.

  • St Oswald Secondary School: Matriculated. 
  • Durban University of Technology: National Diploma in Drama and Performance Studies.
  • South African Writing College: Graduated with Grammar and Creative Writing. 
  • Rhodes University: MA In Creating Writing

  • Fringe Award for Best Digital Experience Play 2021 
  • The Good Theatre Award  for Best Performer 2021  
  • Pansa Playwright Award  Best 2nd Play Distel Playwrights Award 2018
  • Germany Theatre Fellowship Residency 2018 AWPN/Ghana Playwright Recipient 2022 
  • Academia Theatre Residency 2023
  • Bloomsbury Publishing House London 2023
  • Co-Founder Sorana Pictures and AWPN Steering Committee

I remember going to the library and snuck in because my grandfather could not sign me up, and I read Romeo and Juliet in one sitting. I remember I played Umxoxiswano ngamatshe which gave free rein to my imagination. The love of words, reading a newspaper or Daniel Steel books, when I neither spoke nor read English.

It is okay to say no.  It is okay to say yes. And it is okay to say I will think about it.

Five years from now, I hope to see more radical safe spaces for young actors and writers in film and theatre to work, create and imagine without fear and censorship from those in power, producers and funders. I hope for more openness and transparency in theatre institutions and clear intersectionality and inclusion. There should be a point of entry and exit, especially in spaces that are meant to ally and encourage diverse voices.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

Subcribe to the newsletter