Tumi Morake chats to us about returning to the big screen, moving to the US and the lessons she’s learnt at 40

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Tumi Morake's life is filled with new beginnings: she's entered her 40s, relocated to a different country and stars in the new flick Mr Bones 3. (PHOTO: Supplied)
Tumi Morake's life is filled with new beginnings: she's entered her 40s, relocated to a different country and stars in the new flick Mr Bones 3. (PHOTO: Supplied)

It's always been a dream of hers to move to the United States to make a name for herself on the international comedy circuit. But first it was too expensive, then her career on home soil catapulted while she juggled being a wife and mother of three.

Now that Tumi Morake has turned 40, she's rediscovered the confidence to chase her dreams, no matter how unattainable they may seem. 

We caught up with SA's favourite funny girl.


It’s been 14 years since the release of Mr Bones 2 and in the third instalment of the franchise, Tumi joins the cast as the utterly charming Mamba.

Tumi says fans can expect that classic Leon Schuster brand of comedy they’ve come to know and love.

“There’s a lot of slapstick comedy,” she adds.

Fortunately Mamba, described as a cynic and a crook, can handle herself in a physical brawl.

She has nothing in common with her character, Mamba, the comedian says. (PHOTO: Supplied)

“The only things I have in common with Mamba is our love of bright clothes and money – we’re both trying to secure the bag!” Tumi quips.

“But to get into character I had to dump Tumi and go: what’s Mamba’s vibe? Mamba knows she’s bigger than the village but would never leave the comfort of the village.”

So instead she brings the city life to the fictional Kuvukiland, which rubs Mr Bones (played by Leon) up the wrong way, Tumi adds.

Their characters might not get along on screen, but off screen Tumi and Leon got on like a house on fire. The comedian describes working with Leon as a bucket-list experience.

She spent a month filming in Broederspruit in the North West.

“It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” she says of being on set.


In February Tumi and her husband, actor Mpho Osei-Tutu, packed up their lives in Johannesburg and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in the US, with their three kids Afia (8), Bonsu (13), Lesedi (10).

Mr Bones was shot before the family moved to the US. The move had been a long time coming, she says. She and Mpho had their sights set on studying abroad but it was too expensive. The couple remained in SA and both went on to create careers – but the dream to relocate to the US remained.

“One day we were like, the kids are old enough, let’s do it. The cool thing is we can come back. If it works it works, if it doesn’t, we go back home.”

She’s enjoying the anonymity of living in Atlanta but adds she misses SA’s diversity.

“I miss hearing so many languages and understanding all of them. There’s something about being able to just change language lanes whenever you’re speaking.”


In December last year Tumi turned 40 and she’s only just come into herself again, she say.

“I changed who I was because of other people and lost a certain essence that made me who I am,” she says. “Now that I’m 40, I am proper me.”

Her 20s were about being her authentic self but she lost that in her 30s as her career picked up.

“I’ve channelled that 20-year-old me, but with more wisdom,” Tumi says.

“People change like the weather – today they hate this about you; tomorrow it’s the very thing they love. Just keep doing you!”

It’s with the same confidence that she’s approached her comedy and her marriage.

She and Mpho (40) will celebrate their 13th anniversary later this year. The couple, who have been together for more than 20 years, believe that marriage is all about forgiveness.

“We’re not afraid to fight or disagree but we always work through it,” Tumi says.

“We’re good together when things are good and we’re great together when things are bad.”

Mr Bones 3 will be in cinemas from 14 April.  

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()