She knows how to keep a secret. Even though she works in an industry that thrives on publicity, she’s learnt to keep her private life private.
So when actress Florence Segal debuted her little girl on social media at five months old, fans and followers were shocked but not surprised. She’s had some success in keeping out of the spotlight when she’s not in front of the camera and this was no different.
Florence introduced her little girl to her followers on Instagram. “And there was light . . . hello my angel, thank you for choosing us to be your parents. We are blessed beyond measure.”
She loves being a mom, the soft-spoken star tells DRUM soon after she revealed baby Yana to the world.
“Being a first-time mother has just revealed the strength I have, you know?” she says with a smile.
“It’s such a beautiful thing to be part of this little girl’s life. And to call her my daughter is such a blessing for which I’m immensely grateful.”
The gorgeous actress, who played Lerato on Isibaya for five years before the character was killed in a war between two prominent taxi bosses, has taken a much-needed break from acting to spend some time with the new addition to her family.
She worked hard to keep the pregnancy a secret, Florence says. This sometimes proved challenging – it wasn’t an easy pregnancy and she was in and out of hospital throughout.
She’d rather not dwell on the complications, however.
Even more upsetting was getting a call from a journalist asking Florence if she was expecting a few weeks into her pregnancy, even though she’d specifically told only a few close people.
“I felt so invaded,” she says. “I didn’t tell anyone – apart from close family – that I was pregnant.”
She and her husband, businessman James Segal, wanted to experience the birth away from the limelight. And they managed to do just that, letting the secret out only when they were ready.
Little Yana came into a world of love and her parents are as besotted with each other as they are with her.
Florence met James in Joburg in 2009. “My friends and I were hanging out near my home in Soweto when he drove past. He stopped and asked to speak to me. The rest is history, really,” she says shyly.
“We started dating and fell in love. Then last year we got married.” They started planning for a family and were over the moon when doctors confirmed they were having a baby girl, Florence says.
There were complications from the start. James, Florence’s mom Elizabeth, her gogo Florence Mokgatsi (she’s named after her) and her in-laws supported her throughout the difficult period.
“I saw the power of God throughout my pregnancy. I never thought I’d get through that phase in my life, but I’m stronger now and I’m so grateful for the support my family gave me,” she says.
Friends who’ve had babies, like fellow actress Mapaseka Koetle-Nyokong, have also rallied around Florence.
“They give helpful tips and good advice,” she says. “Being a first-time mother is tricky. You can never say you know everything just from the books. I discover something new every day.”
She’s a little scared of making mistakes but the sweet rewards make every moment of anxiety worth it. “You realise this little person has invaded your space and taken over your life in the most beautiful way. For example, something as tiny as my phone – my gallery is full of pictures and videos of her. She’s my obsession,” Florence says as she whips out her phone and opens one of her videos.
In the video the big-eyed little girl sits on a bed wearing a white romper. When Florence tells little Yana, “Mommy loves you,” Yana just stares at the phone.
But when Florence says, “Daddy loves you,” five-month-old Yana is full of excitement and smiles. Florence laughs at the display.
“Hawu this child, can you imagine that – a daddy’s girl already!”
Florence has come a long way since starting her acting career as a teenager in the role of Tshidi on the SABC1 children’s drama series Soul Buddyz.
She loved playing Tshidi and it’s still one of her favourite roles.
After being on Mzansi Magic’s Isibaya since 2013, she’s decided it’s time to move on and try different roles.
“I want to grow in my craft and play different roles,” she says. She’s hoping to get a meatier role soon.
“Acting is a passion and I’ll always do it. I still have things I want to achieve in the film industry. I want to play a role that’s not a sweet, loveable woman. I want a challenge,” she says.
But for now, she’s okay with spending her days with Yana.
“I wake up every morning and say a little prayer, ‘Thank you God for my miracle baby’. I’m so grateful, I can’t believe I’m a mommy to such a beautiful girl.”
Marriage has also been good to her, Florence says.
“We still do the same things we did before – we still hang out with the people we hung out with before.
“Marriage for us was a formality – we now share a home and a beautiful miracle baby, but we’re still the same people.”
The couple also run a business together.
“We run two guesthouses in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, and that’s quite fun. We’re partners in this life thing, and that’s the beauty of marriage,” she says.
They’re both staunch Christians and are raising their daughter to be one too.
“We want her to know and understand the power of prayer, as well as that God is actually here – always. She must always remember she should turn to God before turning to anyone else.”
Are they planning on adding more little ones to their family?
“Yes! Just one more,” Florence says.
“And we’re hoping for a baby boy. I’m not scared of another complicated pregnancy, even though it put a strain on us as I was constantly in and out of hospital.
“But all pregnancies are different. The next one could go very smoothly – who knows?”
Her family showed her they can handle anything that comes their way, she says, so she’s not scared of having more kids.
She’s going to take everything as it comes. “I’ll be grateful for it all.”