13 years unemployed and her long climb back to stardom: Our last interview with V-Mash

Vinolia Mashego. (PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES).
Vinolia Mashego. (PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES).

On Monday the tragic news of Vinolia "V-Mash" Mashego's death came as a shock to many. Before her death Move! did what would be one of her final interviews, where she revealed more about her life since her days on Jam Alley came to an end. Read her story here:

READ MORE: Former 'Jam Alley' presenter V-Mash's father on her sudden death: 'She died in her sleep'

She's gone through many phases in her life. There was the bubbly presenter on Jam Alley. Then co-host on Mzansi Magic's Pls Call Me. Now she's getting fans excited as Kwinana in Giyani: Land of Blood.

Kwinana is a dejected divorcée who leaves her rich husband after he tells her he intends to marry their maid. In between all life's phases, Vinolia "V-Mash" Mashego had to overcome obstacle after obstacle.

She's survived many years of unemployment, rumours of poverty and being tabloid fodder. But through it all, her bubbly personality has remained intact.

MAKING A COMEBACK

She's hard to miss as she walks into our studios in Auckland Park. While it's been decades since she burst onto the entertainment scene, she's unforgettable. Who can forget when she was fired from Jam Alley after being arrested for parading naked in a block of flats in Pretoria?

READ MORE: Naked Jam Alley presenter lands in jail

She was unemployed for more than 13 years after that. "I’m better now. I’ve been working and have my own house," Vinolia tells us. She's joined SABC2 drama series, Giyani: Land of Blood and is enjoying Kwinana. Initially, she auditioned for the role of Gladys, played by Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

"I think we were 30 people who auditioned for that role. But Yvonne's the best. She’s a legend and married to someone who is Tsonga. She's good for the role." She feels suited to her role as Kwinana, Vinolia tells us. "I like Kwinana because she's a mother and has a humble background."

SEEING CLEARLY

Playing Kwinana has opened her eyes. "Kwinana's husband chased her out and she left with just her clothes. I've been there – my ex-fiancé also abused me." Although she doesn't reveal details of the abuse or the name of her ex, she shares that she slipped into depression and was hospitalised after the relationship ended. "While I was at the rehab centre for depression, I realised we have something in common. We're all emotionally abused."

V-MASH, THE MOTHER

Her son, Oratile (20), is with her at the Move! offices. He's the opposite of her – reserved. They love sharing bible verses and prayers. "I love my mother. She's more like a friend to me," says the introverted Oratile. He's okay with her fame, he says, except when negative stories are published about her. It breaks him, he shares.

In 2015 there were reports that Vinolia lived in a RDP house and that neighbours had accused her of stealing food, money and cigarettes from children in the community. Vinolia tells us she's grown a thick skin, but Oratile is still hurt by it. "I'm really affected by them, especially the reports that my mom was homeless and stealing from people," he says.

HER MIRACLE

Vinolia's 15:00 prayer reminder rings as we're talking. They lean on the Lord for strength, she says. "I’m a church-going woman. I don't do funny things now. I know my saviour and He's got my back."

ALSO READ: Reports: V-Mash broke and living in poverty

While she's accepted the world doesn't owe her anything, Oratile isn’t willing to let it go. "She contributed a lot to this country but people are focused on other things now and forgetting her," he says. Oratile hopes to follow in her footsteps. He wants to be a musician.

"I want to move into music – and do it for my mom. Those who've closed doors on her will remember who Vinolia is because I’m coming," he vows. Vinolia, who co-hosted Pls Call Me with Zanele "Nestum" Nyakale and Pule Welch, calls Oratile a miracle baby. She had him after multiple miscarriages. She says she'd lost hope of becoming a mother.

"I remember I hid my big belly when I was on Jam Alley because it was a show for children." After he was born, her parents raised him. "My mom was in the ward when I had him and since that day, he's been her child. She spoils him."

HIS ALLY

She understands him and supports his dreams, Oratile says. "I know I can talk to her about anything. She tries to be on my level and understand where I come from." However, she's a very strict mother, she tells us. "I fight with him and I can go for weeks not talking to him until he apologises. I'll buy him data to apologise if I was in the wrong but he knows there's a line he shouldn't cross," Vinolia says with a straight face.

For years, Oratile didn't know that his mother was famous. "I remember he hated going out with me. He'd complain that people were all over me when we went out." He was 12 when he found out she was a public figure. She says she hid it to protect him. "I wanted him to know that one has to work hard to succeed."

FOLLOWING A LEGACY

Vinolia says he started singing and dancing to the late Brenda Fassie's songs when he was three. "He'd sing in the bathroom and I'd shout at him to stop making a noise," Vinolia recalls, laughing. But she knew that he had a gift and she had to support him.

"I remember he was in primary school when he asked me to write a letter to pastors. He wanted them (pastors) to send it to God to bring Brenda Fassie (back) because life's boring without her." This year, Oratile entered the popular talent show, Idols SA, but had to drop out as his grandfather, Collins Mashego, disapproved. He's currently upgrading his matric subjects to allow him to study music.

"My grandfather didn't think I was ready for it. I’ve gone through the rounds but just before the TV selection, he told me to focus on my studies." While she supports her son, she too believes he has to focus on his studies. "I want him to be accountable. He needs to focus on his studies and he will go study music next year."

READ MORE: V-Mash's 'exceptional' work preserved in the SABC archives to remember her 'remarkable legacy'