SA’s leading ladies are ready for their close-ups

2014-09-07 15:01

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South Africa’s big screen darling, Terry Pheto, is having a year of firsts.

She is ­celebrating her first 10 years in the ­acting industry and she launched her production company, Leading Lady, at the recent Durban ­International Film Festival.

After two years of work, she is also in the process of co-producing her first feature film, Ayanda and the ­Mechanic.

City Press visited Pheto this week in Joburg, where she was doing table readings of the script with ­producer and director Sara Blecher, and actresses Fulu Mugovhani and Nthati Moshesh.

“It’s a family drama,” says Pheto, “and I love it ­because it has a female lead?...?And Fulu truly is Ayanda, and embodies her spirit. And I also love it because it’s her [Mugovhani’s] first feature film.”

Moshesh plays Ayanda’s mother, which Moguvhani says “is a dream come true because everything I wanted to do is because of her. She’s one of the best actresses in the country.”

Pheto says the film is set in Yeoville and “it’s not a story of xenophobia, ­because while that’s an important part of the narrative of this country, it’s not the only story. There are communities where people are living together and making it work.”

The award-winning actress says this move into production was always part of the plan.

She adds: “But I will always be an ­actress. It’s in my blood. It’s like being a doctor.”

Blecher, who directed Otelo Burning, has been working on ­Ayanda and the Mechanic for four years.

“Initially, there was a role for Terry and she came in and obviously she was brilliant. But the script changed and then there was no longer a role for her. But she’s not just a pretty face. She’s ­brilliant and smart, and I wanted to keep her on the project,” Blecher explains.

Like Pheto, she sees the film as being very ­important because “for two years, we were unable to give a leading actress an award at the Saftas [SA Film and ­Television Awards] ­because there were only men in leading roles, telling stories about men by men?...?and we [women] are the bulk of the population, but where are our stories that aren’t Aids or crime stories?”

The film is scheduled for release in the first half of 2015. Pheto also has a partnership with the hugely popular Africa Magic channel to get into the lucrative Nigerian market.

“I am glad we are creating the film ­together. The hope is that Leading Lady becomes a platform for creating new leadingladies and, starting with ­Ayanda and the Mechanic, we hope we are ­creating a new role model,” she says.

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