Charlize Theron is a former model and was an aspiring ballerina whose career came to a halt after a knee injury. However, an unexpected encounter brought her in the world of acting and she went on achieve tremendous success including winning an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. She is currently one of the world's highest-paid actresses.
Trevor Noah is a writer, political commentator, comedian and television host and hosts the American satirical news programme, The Daily Show. He has also hosted several other shows, including the late-night talk show, Tonight with Trevor Noah. He is an actor too. He has written an autobiographical book, Born A Crime, and has received numerous accolades and awards, including the Emmy Award.
AB de Villiers, also known as “Mr. 360” and “Superman,” has captained the South African cricket team in Tests, ODIs, and T20s. Named the ICC ODI Player of the Year thrice, the Wisden "cricketer of the decade" is a devout Christian, has written an autobiography, and released a pop album.
Candice Swanepoel is a South African model known for her association with Victoria's Secret. In 2016, Swanepoel was ranked eighth among the top-earning models, according to Forbes. Also known for her charity work, Swanepoel works closely with mothers2mothers, a nonprofit organization that aims at averting mother-to-child transmission of HIV by providing support and education for pregnant women living with HIV.
From being an infant whose both legs were amputated below knee, Oscar Pistorius went on to become a top athlete with wins in Paralympic Games and other sporting events. The South African sprinter also became the first amputee runner to compete at the Olympics Games. However, later, he was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend and is currently imprisoned.
10 Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma is a South African politician and fourth president of South Africa. During his presidency, which lasted from 2009 to 2018, Zuma was accused of racketeering and corruption which ultimately led to his resignation. Apart from being a politician, Zuma also runs the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which aims at building houses for the poor and sending children to school.
Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important monarchs of the Zulu Kingdom, Shaka reigned as the king of the Zulu Kingdom from 1816 to 1828. Through a series of influential and wide-reaching reforms, Shaka was able to re-organize the Zulu military into a formidable force. His life and work inspired the 1986 South African TV series, Shaka Zulu.
13 Steve Biko
Civil rights activist Steve Biko, or the Father of Black Consciousness, is remembered for his work against apartheid in South Africa. He founded the Black Consciousness Movement while still a medical school student. He was banned by the pro-apartheid regime in 1973. He was beaten to death in custody.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist middle-distance runner Caster Semenya in an intersex woman, with high testosterone levels. The two-time Olympic gold medalist was asked to take medication to decrease her testosterone levels, to participate in the 2021 Olympics women’s events, and filed a case in the European Court of Human Rights.
Sharlto Copley is a South African actor best known for playing important roles in science fiction films, such as District 9, Elysium, Europa Report, Chappie, and Hardcore Henry. His portrayal of Wikus van der Merwe in District 9 earned him several accolades including a couple of IGN Movie Awards.
18 Kevin Carter
Kevin Carter was a South African photojournalist whose photograph titled the vulture and the little girl, which depicted the 1993 famine in Sudan, earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1994. Carter committed suicide in 1994 after suffering from depression. A book titled The Bang Bang Club, which was later made into a film, depicts his story.
Cyril Ramaphosa is a politician and the current president of South Africa. Also the president of South Africa's popular political party African National Congress (ANC), Ramaphosa played a key role during the nation's transition to democracy during which he served as ANC's chief negotiator. He also played a crucial role in ending apartheid and was considered Nelson Mandela's political heir.
21 Gary Player
Reeva Steenkamp was a British-South African model and TV personality. She had a successful career as a model before she was shot dead, at the age of 29, by Paralympic champion, Oscar Pistorius. Her death became international news and she was posthumously named SA Persons of the year along with Anene Booysen by the Daily Maverick in 2013.
23 Hashim Amla
One of the best ODI bastmen in the world, South African cricketer Hashim Amla has made many records, from being the fastest to reach 20 ODI centuries to being the fourth player to score centuries against all Test-playing nations. He was also the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2013.
Born to stage-actor parents in South Africa, Arnold Vosloo is best known as Imhotep from The Mummy franchise. He is also often mistaken for Billy Zane from Titanic for his uncanny resemblance to the actor. The Dalro Award-winning actor has also appeared in series such as 24 and Bosch.
26 Ernie Els
Ernie Els is a South African golfer renowned for his fluid golf swing and imposing physical stature, which has earned him the nickname, The Big Easy. A former World No. 1, Els has four major championships under his belt. Ernie Els is only one of six golfers to twice win the Open Championship as well as the U.S. Open.
27 Glynis Johns
The veteran British actress who belongs to the Golden Age of Hollywood is known for her stellar roles in films like Miranda, Third Time Lucky and State Secret. Glynis Johns is also a singer, distinguished by her husky voice. She acted on the stage and the television. The daughter of actor, Mervyn Johns, has a son from her first marriage.
29 John Kani
John Kani is a South African actor, playwright, director, and author. He is best known for playing T'Chaka in American superhero films, such as Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War. One of the few South African actors to achieve international recognition, John Kani was included in the Top 100 Great South Africans list, which was published in 2004.
Born to a South African father and an English mother, former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen still holds the record for being the fastest to make 2,000 ODI runs. Named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year, he was also nicknamed “shining” once, for his phenomenal contribution to the England team.
Miriam Makeba was a South African singer, actress, songwriter, civil rights activist, and United Nations goodwill ambassador. One of the first African musicians to make an impact on the international stage, Makeba is credited with popularizing Afropop genres. She also advocated against apartheid through music and played a major role in the civil rights movement.
Born in South Africa, Neill Blomkamp later moved to Canada. He began his career as a 3-D and special effects artist and later turned to direction. He is known for his documentary-style filmmaking that uses the cinéma vérité technique. Two of his best-known sci-fi films are District 9 and Elysium.
Basil Rathbone was an English actor best remembered for playing private detective Sherlock Holmes in 14 movies made between 1939 and 1946. Renowned for playing morally ambiguous characters, Rathbone won the prestigious Tony Award for his portrayal of Dr. Austin Sloper in The Heiress. Basil Rathbone has been honored with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
34 Alice Krige
South African actor Alice Krige is best known for her roles in Chariots of Fire and Star Trek: First Contact. She played a dual role in Ghost Story and has been seen in a major role in the Netflix series The OA. She has also produced the film Jail Caesar.
35 Lucky Dube
36 Caspar Lee
British-South African social-media sensation and YouTuber Caspar Lee soared to fame with his comedy videos. He later also stepped into acting with films such as Spud 3. A budding entrepreneur, he co-owns the student housing company Proper Living and has been featured on Forbes 30 Under 30.
Wayde van Niekerk is a South African athlete who competes as a sprinter in the 200 and 400 metres. He is the current Olympic and world record holder in the 400 metres. Wayde van Niekerk holds the world record in the 300 metres as well. He won the gold medal in the 400 metres event at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Kevin Anderson is a South African tennis player who became the fifth-ranked player in the world in 2018. He is the first South African player to be ranked in the top five since 1985 when Kevin Curren was ranked fifth in the world. Anderson has reached two Grand Slam finals; US Open (2017) and Wimbledon (2018).
South African supermodel, actor, and make-up artist Tanit Phoenix had begun her career at 14. A sensation in the fashion world, she has graced magazines such as GQ and Maxim, and has also been featured on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions. She loves ballet, yoga, and martial arts.
Juliet Prowse was an actress and dancer whose stage, film, and TV career spanned 40 years. She gained prominence during the 1960s by appearing in films like Can-Can and G.I. Blues, which accentuated her dancing skills and her attractive legs. Towards the end of her career, Juliet Prowse hosted PBS' Championship Ballroom Dance Competition.
Faf du Plessis is a South African cricketer who captained the national team in the ODI format from 2013 to 2019. He has also captained the national team in the other two formats of the game. He became the first South African player to score centuries in ODI, T20, and Test cricket after he scored his first T20I century in 2015.
Justin Gabriel is a South African wrestler best known for his achievements in WWE; he is a three-time WWE Tag Team Champion with Heath Slater. He also won two Slammy Awards during his time in WWE. In 2011, he was ranked 61st in the PWI 500 list.
43 Ilana Kloss
Former professional tennis player, Ilana Kloss is also a tennis coach, and commissioner of World TeamTennis, since 2001. She was the World's No. 1 ranked doubles player in 1976 and World No. 19 in singles in the year 1979. Born in Johannesburg, the Jewish player won the US Open doubles and mixed doubles championship on the 35-and-over tour, in 1999.
44 Cariba Heine
Cariba Heine is an Australian actress and dancer known for playing important roles in TV series like H2O: Just Add Water and Blue Water High. Before establishing herself as an actress, Cariba Heine received training in tap dance, jazz dance, classical ballet, rhythmic gymnastics, and acrobatics. She is also a trained singer.
Chris Barnard was a South African cardiac surgeon best remembered for performing the first human-to-human heart transplant surgery in the world. Barnard is credited with developing a cure for intestinal atresia in children. He saved the lives of at least 10 babies in Cape Town and his technique was adopted by surgeons in the United States of America and Britain.
46 Adam Rose
Raymond John Leppan, better known by his ring name, Adam Rose, is a retired South African wrestler. He once described himself as the “life of the party” and has also represented NXT and WWE. He was also part of an E:60 documentary titled Behind the Curtain.
47 Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts was a South African military leader, statesman, and philosopher. He played a key role in the formation of the Union of South Africa and helped shape its constitution. From 1919 to 1924 and again from 1939 to 1948, he served as the Union of South Africa's prime minister. He played a major role in establishing the United Nations.
48 Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki is a South African politician who is currently serving as the chancellor of the University of South Africa. From 1999 to 2008, he served as the president of South Africa. During his tenure as the president, the South African economy grew, creating employment opportunities. Over the years, he has received several awards, including the prestigious Good Governance Award.
Tammin Sursok is an actress and singer whose portrayal of Dani Sutherland earned her the Logie Award for Most Popular New Female Talent in 2001. Sursok is also known for her singing skills; her debut studio album Whatever Will Be peaked at number 13 on the ARIA Charts. Apart from acting and singing, Sursok has also been campaigning against bullying.
50 Kyle Edmund
Today an ace professional tennis player, Kyle Edmund was introduced to the game at the age of ten. He made his breakthrough on the junior circuit at sixteen and debuting at Davis Cup at twenty. A top ranked male British player in 2018-2019, having a career-high singles world ranking of 14, he is currently ranked at 104 because of chronic knee injury.