‘Drunken’ Cleopa­tra fights booze abuse

CityPress - - News - PHUTI MATHOBELA news@city­press.co.za

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.

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