Local Celeb – Seipati Motshwane
We caught up with Mme SEIPATI MOTSHWANE, 64, who has been an actress for over 30 years. We found out that she’s a traditionalist at heart, with a personality as warm as a tight hug
You may remember Mme Seipati from her roles on Soul Buddyz, Egoli, Intersexions and
Scandal! She’s been on the small screen since the ‘80s, and her passion for the arts has cemented her veteran status. When it comes to longevity, this The Throne actress says that her humility and perseverance have stood her in good stead.
I was born and bred in the most rural part of Zeerust in North West. After matric, I came to Joburg, at age 19, in search of greener pastures. I didn’t know where I’d end up, but always knew that working in showbiz was my ultimate goal.
Showbiz was my calling. As far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be in the spotlight. When I was in standard three (Grade 5), I used to cut out famous models and singers from newspapers and magazines, and place them on my wall — I wanted to travel the world just like them. Weirdly enough, I never told anyone about this dream. But I came to Joburg to look for theatres and agents so I could crack it in the industry.
I first started out as a model. I did that for a while, but it was very difficult back then because they wanted girls who looked like local versions of international model, Iman. I then got my first job in showbiz in 1979 as part of the Sun City Extravaganza, where I was a showgirl until 1984. The show was synonymous with the likes of Moulin Rouge and the Lido de Paris show. It was quite a big deal back then.
The Sun City Extravaganza opened my world up to a lot of possibilities. I went to stay with a friend I’d met during the show in London, and together we travelled to Paris and Greece. I finally got to see the world as I’d dreamt of. I went as far as trying out for the Lido de Paris show, and actually spoke with the owner. She loved me but said I couldn’t join because it was the middle of the year. I was proud of myself for having been brave enough to even try.
My first TV show was a drama series called Ga Bo Se Gangwe in 1986. My agent gave me my first acting lessons and from then on, other opportunities came flocking in. Every actor knows that there is a dry season. But I kept going to auditions because I love acting. In between the acting gigs, radio voiceovers keep me afloat financially. After doing The Imposter, I had no gigs except for my radio drama series on Motsweding FM. I’ve learnt to juggle things round when there are no acting jobs available. In my 32 years in entertainment, I’ve learnt to save every cent that I get from each production. To supplement my acting income, I also run small businesses back home where I ask my family to sell things for me. I’m grateful to God for having lasted this long in an industry that’s known to be fickle. Some of my peers, whom I started with back in the ‘80s, no longer work. It’s such a great feeling to still be doing what I love all these years later.
I first met Ferguson Films’ Shona Ferguson on the set of Isidingo, where we played mother and son. I asked him to please inform me the next time he works on a drama series, and that’s how I got to be in
Rockville season 2. I auditioned and got the job. He called me for my role on The Imposter because they were specifically looking for someone who spoke impeccable Setswana. Once again, they thought I’d be a perfect fit for The Throne, which is a Setswana drama series.
The Throne is, without a doubt, my biggest break. It’s been a beautiful production to work on, and I love that it’s getting so much love and attention on social media. I play one of the lead roles, Sephiri, which has brought with it a lot of attention.
I’ve learnt that timing is everything. Receiving a big role at my age has been a blessing because had it come when I was younger, I wouldn’t have been able to execute it the way I am now. I love Sephiri — she’s
lastig (annoying), inquisitive, goes where she shouldn’t and dishes out advice even when it isn’t needed [chuckles].
I’m honoured to be a part of a production that advances Setswana culture and heritage. Setswana isn’t well represented on television, especially in telenovelas. I’m glad that The Throne came about, and that I’m involved in it. Seeing your norms and traditions reflected back to you on television is really something special. We’re not doing enough to represent other languages like Xitsonga, Ndebele and isiSwati in their entirety. I’m a traditionalist at heart, so the more representation we have, the more reassured I feel that we are going back to our African roots.
I still get stopped on the streets when people recognise me, and it’s such an amazing feeling. My daughter, who’s my only child, didn’t understand when she was younger. But now, she walks away and does her own thing when fans approach me. She says she’s happy that I have finally ‘made it’.
I’m such a soft mother — in fact, I actually think I’m a walkover in some instances [chuckles]. I don’t shout much but I put rules in place. I’m a happy grandmother of two — my eldest grandson is 12, and the other is two.
In this industry, there’s no such thing as ‘I’ve made it’ or thinking you’ll stay at the top forever. It’s important to stay humble at all times so that when you’re down and out, the very same people you were courteous to can help carry you to the top again. Remember that you’re doing it for the people, so stay grounded.
Retiring is not an option for me. One of the reasons I love showbiz so much is that there’s no retirement age. I’ll still be accepting jobs, even when I’m on a walking stick. I honestly can’t picture myself doing anything else! •
I’m honoured to be a part of a production that advances Setswana culture and heritage.