Vuyelwa Mpela on Hush Money, industry longevity and her love of languages

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Vuyelwa Mpela is on SABC's Hush Money.
Vuyelwa Mpela is on SABC's Hush Money.
PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES/Rowyn Lombard

There seems to be nothing she can't do. She's an actress, a producer and a lover of languages. With two decades of experience, she knows all about what it takes to have staying power in the industry. 

One must always have a desire to learn, she shares.

Vuyelwa Mpela started her TV career playing Alyce on 7de Laan and has been a part of many major productions in the country since then. For the last 10 years or so, she says, she has been working behind the scenes and producing a couple of shows.

“If I had not learnt the other aspects of television making like producing and presenting, I do not know how my life would have panned out in the last couple of years. I understand not everyone wants to get into all of that, some people just want to act, but I believe being multi-facetted has really helped me. I have a love for story telling and performing.

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“I have always had a desire to learn as much I can. When I started on 7de Laan, I had a theatre background and I had to learn because stage and tv acting are different. But from back then, I still asked questions backstage, eager to learn what the different machines did. I was really in every department asking people about the work they do and where they fit in, in the greater scheme of things,” she says.

Currently, she is one of the lead characters on SABC 1’s Hush Money. 

“I love this role. It is different from anything I have done before,” she explains.

“Grace is the family matriarch. She is all about protecting her family and keeping up appearances as the wife of a well-respected judge. She then finds herself conflicted when her son is on the wrong side of the law.

“This story is remarkable and has taken me to places I have never been as an actor. There is so much intensity in the scenes and I cannot wait for viewers to see the twists and turns in the story. I’d say Grace is the kingmaker,” she says.

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One of the producers of the show is a friend of hers who asked her to play the role.

“He said when he wrote the character he had me in mind and I was only happy to oblige because I wanted to support his work. He had written for many productions before, but this was his passion project and I wanted to support him,” she says.

She gets her knack for languages from her father, she says.

“My dad always said if you’re going to speak a language, speak it properly. He is a linguist and fluent in the languages he speaks. My maternal grandmother was a coloured lady and my mom went on to marry a Xhosa man, so I just grew up speaking those languages at home.

"Even in high school I got a distinction for Afrikaans without working hard for it I never quite realized that I spoke Afrikaans that fluently until people pointed it our to me. Then when I spoke Setswana or Sotho people would turn around and ask me but what are you or what is your home language because I speak so fluently. I just love languages,” she adds.

Hush Money airs on Sunday at 7.30pm. 

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