She thought she’d never make it, as one unsuccessful audition followed another. But now Mathabo Mothibe (26) plays Khensani in the SABC2 drama, Giyani: Land of Blood. It’s centered around the conflict between the Mudaus and Baloyis, who are fighting for their land in Risinga.
BEHIND THE CHARACTER
Mathabo is calm and composed and describes herself as “an old soul, who’s down to earth.” “Khensani and I have a lot in common,” she says. “Her love for family and putting her needs aside inspires me. But she can be too naïve and sacrifices herself to make others happy,” Mathabo tells us.
Khensani moves to Risinga and falls in love with Musa (played by fellow Tshwane University of Technology graduate Wiseman Zitha). But under pressure from her family and to protect them, she marries the mayor, Vukosi. “Khensani’s starting to realise that she’s not happy. She married to protect her family. She tried to make it work but it’s too much for her,” she says.
“He’s expecting a child but she’s working her way out of the marriage. She doesn’t want a baby and realises that the love of her life is Musa.” Although there are similarities, she says she’s not as gullible and trusting as her character. “I’d never marry someone I don’t love just to make sure everyone else around me is okay.”
LOVE OF ACTING
This is her biggest role on television and comes after years of unsuccessful auditions. “I started to think I’d never get a big role.” While looking for work, she and her producer husband Vuyani Bila wrote, directed and produced To Ike, a film through his production company. “I kept myself busy with work we created,” she says.
FAME & PRESSURE
Born in Alexandra and raised in Leondale, Mathabo fell in love with acting in high school. She wanted to be an actress when she realised she could use acting to help people. But showbiz has been a shock to her system and she’s adjusting to fame.
“Apparently I’ve been categorised as one of the pretty girls. It’s come with a lot of pressure. In the beginning I felt pressure to fit in and do what the other ‘it’ girls do: post on social media and slay.” Mathabo adds that she loves the industry but not that pressure. “I love the acting and the business, but I was confused. I didn’t know where I wanted to fit in. But after a time I realised I should be myself.”
HEALTH & HAPPINESS
“My health is very dear to me as my father died of diabetes in 2010,” she says. Her family were forced change their eating habits. “My father had diabetes since I was born and had his leg amputated. He was on pills and was taking insulin. After his amputation, our lifestyle changed. We stopped eating certain foods, we’d boil most food, exercise and watch our diets.”