‘Drunken’ Cleopatra fights booze abuse
Actress Thandy Matlaila is so convincing as the everdrunk character Cleopatra in the soapie The Queen that her fans don’t believe she is not an alcoholic in real life.
“I always watch Cleopatra on TV, she shocks me too,” she says.
Matlaila (30) says that, although she does not drink, she has learnt a lot from many of her friends who do.
“Everyone is different when they are drunk, and my character on The Queen draws from all of them.”
Matlaila says her character speaks to ordinary people who do not have close family ties.
“Cleopatra, at times, finds people around her to be judgmental though they do not know what she is going through. This is often the case with people who feel judged by those who hardly know them and who have no idea about their experiences.”
Matlaila holds a BA degree in live performance from the Africa Film Drama Art School and has starred in soapies such as Tshisa, Soul City 11, Intsika and Gauteng Maboneng.
She also presented the youth science programme Knock Knock: Ball of Fame on SABC3.
Matlaila gives credit to her co-star Kabelo Moalusi, who plays the role of Roy, her husband. She says they decided to hang out together “to learn to be comfortable with each other” on set.
“We always went out together and people thought we were dating or something,” she says, laughing.
She says she closely watches experienced actors such as Sello Maake Ka-Ncube and Connie Ferguson to learn more about how they handle their characters on and off the set.
She regards her acting career as a privilege and has started using her fame to educate young people about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
“I do not mind people who drink; you must have reasons you do that.
“But do not drink because you want to fit in and be part of the crew,” she says.
She believes people who consume alcohol should take responsibility for their actions and not blame alcohol if something goes wrong.
“I do motivational speaking at schools around our country, and we go deep into what makes pupils drink and smoke.
“I have three elements that I use – know who you are, trust yourself and love yourself. With these, you can never go wrong,” she says.
She is also campaigning against so-called blessers – adult men who date younger girls and fetter them with gifts and money. She teaches young girls and women to love and respect themselves so that they remain grounded.
“Young women who trust themselves will never try to sleep with older men to get material things, nor will they end up using drugs,” she says.
Matlaila also believes that selfawareness is not sufficiently taught in schools, and the media “does not help” by not publishing or airing educational content about life that will empower young girls and women.