Fierce, audacious and commanding. That’s how fans describe Monnye Kunupi’s (49) character on Mzansi Magic’s The Throne. Monnye plays Queen Mosadi Kwena, a woman who’s willing to fight for love. And while Monnye might be single, she’s also a firm believer in the power and importance of love. The Throne is fast coming up on its first anniversary and we catch up with the star to find out what she’s learnt.
DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL
Monnye grew up in Kagiso, west of Johannesburg, and in her teen years she and her family moved to Alberton in the East Rand part of Johannesburg. The actress and her brother, Israel (42), were raised by their parents in a warm, loving home. She’s always been a daddy’s girl, Monnye says, and she was crushed when her father passed away from stomach cancer in 2004.
“He had been sick for a week and we took him to the hospital where they discovered he had stomach cancer. He passed away not long after. He was only 54 years old and it took me a while to truly deal with it,” she shares.
In 2007, Monnye took up golfing as a sport to feel closer to him. “I wasn’t really interested in golfing but my dad played and that’s why I took it up. I honestly thought if I was on the golf course I would feel connected to my father. It helped me deal with the loss.”
Now she’s mourning again after her 70-year-old mom died in November last year, also from stomach cancer. “I was dreading Mother’s Day because I miss my mother so much.” She spent the day with her 21-yearold daughter, Nthabi, she says.
Cancer also found a way into her character’s life. When viewers were first introduced to Queen Mosadi, she was admired by all. She was firm but humble and loved serving the people of Kweneng.
She was diagnosed with cancer and tried hiding it from the community and her family but the bad news spread like wildfire and they supported her. Mosetsana, who was killed by her cousin Odirile in an attempt to take over the throne when Mosadi dies.
Then a battle among the royal members saw Mosadi kicked off the throne and out of the palace. But the Kwena ancestors seem to be on her side as she was reinstated a few months later. Now Queen Mosadi is determined to make sure everyone knows she’s in charge. The queen has her followers in a frenzy as she’s decided she wants to take a husband, something that is prohibited in the royal family. She’s entitled to love, the queen believes and Monnye agrees.
“Mosadi wants justice for women in authority. She wants them to have a chance at love. She is also frustrated that her decisions are being second-guessed by her family and the council members.”
The residents of Kweneng are not exactly pleased by the idea their queen wants to break the rules. Many are also worried that she is thinking of marrying council member and school principal Lerole, who recently got divorced. Only time will tell if this relationship will work out and if the community will finally support the queen’s quest for love, Monnye says coyly. Monnye is not married herself but she does believe in love and happiness.
“No one deserves to be lonely and miserable. The older you get the more you realise the need for companionship. “I don’t see anything wrong with people who get married at 50 and 60. Love is beautiful,” she says.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
While some fans might know the star only from The Throne, Monnye is no newbie. The mother of one’s acting career spans back to 2003 when she was an extra on e.tv’s Backstage.
Since then the voice-over artist has had various roles in shows such as Generations, 7de Laan, Isidingo, Isibaya, Soul City and Unmarried. And it’s not the first time she’s played a royal. In 2015 she got a lead role as a queen in the theatre production, Nongogo.
ON THE AIRWAVES
The multi-talented Monnye never imagined making a name for herself in acting. She did picture herself in radio, though. But when she became an actress, she stopped thinking about the possibility of being on radio. That was until 2011 when Kasie FM’s Teboho Mafodi was leaving the station and asked Monnye, who was his Facebook friend, to send him a farewell message together with some of the listeners. Monnye sent the voice message and it was well received.
To her surprise, Teboho and the team at Kasie FM were impressed with her voice, telling her it was great for radio. “Teboho suggested I apply for his job and I thought he was being ridiculous. He went as far as taking me to record a demo and delivering it to the radio station. I dropped it and forgot about it.
Two months later I got a call from the station about the job,” she recalls. The actress spent eight years at the station and a few months ago she took a bow.
“Shooting for The Throne and doing radio also got a bit too much.” She’s not done with radio, though. She wants to try her hand on national radio and believes she’s got enough experience to make it happen one day.