Celebrity – Matshepo Sekgopi
Every weeknight, Matshepo Sekgopi delights The River fans with her portrayal of the tjatjarag Dimpho Mokoena. Yet in real life, the 22-year-old is reserved and mature beyond her years!
Being able to wake up every day and do what I love gives my life meaning. “I feel liberated, strong, and as though I’m on the right path. I’ve noticed just how endless the possibilities are, while also recognising my greatness, valuing my worth, and loving myself.”
I spend the bulk of my life, practically, on my toes. “Acting is a game of do or die — you constantly have to be ready! And, of course, no-one tells you about what I call the ‘unwritten rules of the game’ until you have the assistant director screaming, ‘3, 2, 1. Action!’ We have some really big names on The River and I can’t afford to drop the ball, otherwise I would be shooting myself in the foot. We do a lot of improvising on our set, so when someone in the cast unexpectedly hits you with a line, your response needs to show that you’re fully present and committed to the scene.” My life is just normal. “I still wash the dishes when I’m at my parents’ house in Pretoria, and walk to the spaza to buy magwinya. A surprising fact about me is that I make the worst tea. My uncle once said that my tea tastes like dishwashing water — that’s when I gave up on making it [chuckles].”
I could relive the day when I got a call to say that I had been cast for
The River. It was such an amazing day. “This role has truly been the highlight of my career. In fact, the feeling is still surreal to this day! The audition process wasn’t the usual ‘agent calling’ to give me audition details. The casting director called saying they don’t know how they had forgotten to inform me about the audition. I had to hurry and attend it because it was happening at that moment. Getting the call was also incredible because a lot of good things were being said about the show. The entire entertainment industry knew that something great was brewing.”
Working hard, today, for the benefit of the next generation is really important and inspires me to always strive for excellence. “Seeing how hard my illiterate domestic worker grandmother worked, and witnessing my mother also fight for a better life is truly inspiring. I look at the little that I have achieved and I’m proud of the big shift in my family’s achievements, three generations later. I want nothing more than to be the creator of generational wealth. I want to be the author of this amazing family tree of just pure greatness. I would like to believe that I’m well on my path to being great — and it’s not only for me, it’s for the coming generations as well.” I love house music and dancing too. “I’m that girl who is always dancing on tabletops at family gatherings [chuckles]. As such, I registered for a deejaying course at the Soul Candi Institute of Music. I find the ability to fuse songs amusing. I just need to collect my certificate but I wonder if they still have it because it has been so long since I completed the course! I might use this skill one day, and maybe even play at Ibiza — who knows!”
Coming home to unwind, on my couch, with a cup of green tea is the best part of my day. “The work I do is highly emotional. There’s a thought process behind every line that I deliver. I enjoy hanging out on my couch, and going back into my shell. I’m such a home body and, surprisingly enough, this is something most people dispute.”
I would have loved to be present during the apartheid era.“If I had the power to influence the decision around the first black president, then my choice would have definitely been Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. We owe Mama Winnie, for we didn’t give her her rightful place in politics and society. She worked hard for our freedom, stood firm for what she believed in, and never once demanded recognition. This struggle hero has brought about so many changes. I also think that things would have played out differently had we had a female president.”
I’m often taken aback when people say great things about me and the quality of my work. “This is something I hear a lot and my being surprised is something I clearly need to work on. I have come to realise that I sometimes dim my light to make others feel comfortable. I’m slowly learning that there’s no need for me to be quiet and shy about punting my own work.”
Laying my heart and emotions in a scene is more than enough for me. “As an actress, I only concern myself with putting out exceptional work. Being recognised with nominations and awards in the entertainment industry is really a bonus, and I guess a privilege. I believe that your work will always speak for itself, and that your gift will always open more doors for you. I’m currently content with the space I’m in and the platform I’m on.”
The work I do is highly emotional. There’s a thought process behind every line that I deliver.