It is any actor’s dream to take off their acting career, it is even a much bigger dream for those already in it to make it internationally.
Neo Mahloane, is one of the local actors whose dream of making it big came to pass. She is one of the first few Batswana to land leading roles in South African soapies and if the tell tale signs are anything to go by she is destined for more and bigger roles. KGOMOTSO TSHWENYEGO sat down with this talented lady to find out how she does it.
MAKING IT BIG IN MZANSI
How did you land in television acting?
My first audition was for a role in Generation in 2008. I got a cast as Mingy, a wedding planner. I remember I was quite nervous and to make it worse I was given a wrong script. So there I was sitting with the whole cast of generations and everyone was waiting for me to start while on the other hand my script showed I wasn’t the one starting. It is then that they realized they gave me a wrong script. I had to learn the correct one in 10 minutes.
What other acting jobs have you done?
I also acted in a short film done by Germans. In 2009 I was involved in a film for HBO America “History in America” it was shot in Capetown and featured in five episodes. I played a slave. Then in 2010 I came home to take part in Morwalela as Olebogeng. After Morwalela things got a bit quiet and I was at a point where I almost gave up and I livened up when Tshisa called for series 3.
We’ve seen you act as a Nurse in SABC 1 drama Tshisa, how did you get the role?
The same year I was in Generations (2008), I auditioned for Tshisa and I got the role.
Lets talk about your character, Noxie?
Noxie was a nurse but because she made wrong decisions she is now stuck in a situation and finds it hard to get out. She is involved in the wrong group and is doing drugs. She isnt a bad person though just that her decisions got her to where she is.
How is it playing that role?
It is quite extreme, its challenging. Fortunately, I am one who likes to challenge myself to harder roles. The role is physically and emotionally costing, I find myself crying real tears on set each day. I asked the producers if I could wear a wig for this role and they agreed. I needed something to leave behind when done shooting. I have to be in a depressed state all the time and I need to take that off when I get back to real life.
Noxie gets pushed and shoved and falls, do you get hurt?
Yes , I do get physically hurt. Noxie, get pushed and shoved and I have to endure all that.
Do you have an experience you want to share with us?
I was doing a scene with Innocent (Baksteen) and I made a mistake, instead of walking from a clap I walk right into it and Innocent really hit me hard. All I felt was a hard blow right across my face, I fell down and had to lie down for some minutes. It actually didn’t hurt, I just got shocked, my ears started ringing. The director had to cut and poor Innocent kept on apologizing even though he didn’t do it on purpose.
In your role in Morwalela (Olebogeng) you were also pushed, raped, and drank a lot, why do you play such roles?
You know what, I don’t look for them, somehow I just land into them. Olebogeng started from an innocent background but didn’t make the right choice to deal with her HIV+ status and losing her child. And to those who are in her situation, I can say yes you are in an unfortunate situation but look at how to cope with the situation and take care of yourself for a longer life, live normal life complaining wont help.
Let’s talk about him?
There is no him.
It is not a personal choice, I didn’t decide I am not going to have “him” but it just happened there’s no “him”.
You’re such a beautiful woman and a celebrity, whats wrong with these men?
Ha ha ha! I probably scare them away. I am a shy person and because I will not animately talk to people that I don’t know, I probably come across as aloof, insociable and unapproachable.
For the single men out there, are you looking?
Yes, I am looking but its not like am out with guns blazing in search for one. If I happen to come across one that is loving, honest and kind that will be fantastic. I want to get married and have lots and lots of children. I come from a small family so I want mine to be big. My mother used to tell me I should enjoy myself, get married and then have kids. I feel it is time, I have done what I want and would love to marry and start having children. Let me
say though, I’m not into bad boys, I like nerds because I’m a closet nerd!
What kind of family were you raised in?
I was raised by a really fantastic woman, a single mother – a medical doctor, but I wasn’t spoilt. I had to work hard to pave way for myself. She did the best she could and gave me a choice to do what I wanted to be. She didn’t try influence or dictate for me to follow in her footsteps and be a doctor.
Are you the only child?
No, I have an elder brother. Ralph Williams, Stagga, the rap artist.
How do you handle the attention from viewers?
Fortunately for me I play roles that I always look different and in most cases people do not recognize me. And then again Batswana are people that will not crowd your space, yes they will stop to talk. I was never mobbed or anything or face abuse because of the roles I play.
What can you say about the ever rising drug abuse?
From what I have heard and from the role that I play in Tshisa, drugs destroy one’s self-respect, destroy the soul and mind, it affects people around you, family and friends equally. I don’t know why people do that.
It is said most celebrities do?
I personally don’t know anyone who does but people should remain grounded.
What can you say about the alarming rate of rape in this country?
There is no excuse and there can never be justification for such a thing to happen to anyone. I get emotional about issues like rape and I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t know why someone takes advantage of innocent people, children. It still shocks how people can think there is justifications for rape.
Have you ever tried to use your acting skills to get out of a situation?
Ha ha ha! Yes. I got caught for making an illegal u-turn. I attempted to get out of it by crying but it totally didn’t work. The Police Officer just told me to stop crying and yeah I did get the ticket.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become an actor?
Getting into television is one of the most difficult things to do but if you are determined you get up and do it. Be humble, be nice, make connections and have a plan of how you want to get into the industry.
Share with us your awkward behavior
I talk to myself a lot. I find myself in most times conversing with myself even when driving. When I realize people are looking at me I usually pick the phone and pretend am on the phone.
What do you do when you flunk your lines?
Every actor flunk their lines at some point. So when I flunk my lines, I bite my tongue, turn it in circles inside my mouth, apologise, take a deep breath and ask if we can do it again. Very funny moment for every actor.
New actors on set, how do you deal with them?
The first time is always intimidating and scary. They usually are nervous and scared and sometimes star struck. What I do is I smile and encourage them to relax and try and enjoy it. Acting is all about having fun on set.
Are women doing enough to be recognised or appreciated?
The women of this country have done a phenemonal job at putting this country on the map. Mpule, Kaone, Tebby, Amantle, Emma to name just a few. I believed they do enough and are to be admired and applauded. I am very proud of them.
Names: Neo Naledi Mahloane
Date of birth: 25 July, 1985
Parents: Dudu Mahloane
Role model in film: Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Pamela Nomvete
Book reading: Right now I’m reading the qu’ran actually
Political affiliation: I’m not fanatical about politics
Favorite food: Organic foods
Allergies: Weaves and Wigs. I get rush and acne when I wear them
Any skills that you possess? I draw. I exhibited National Museum 2009, 2010 and 2011