Thursday, March 4, 2021

Isibaya’s Keletso Mophuting on acting, producing, and taking a leap of faith

The year is ….somewhere in the near future and there is a sold out movie premier at the New Capitol Cinemas. For the first time in Botswana a blockbuster has been written, produced, and stars a local.

But before then, the day is May 20, 2015, the setting is Game City’s Mugg & Bean and the plot is simple, Sunday Standard Lifestyle gets to have a conversation with the star in the making while there is still a chance.

Her name is Koketso Mophuting and her face has been lighting up our screens for a better part of the past five years. Like every star her acting career did not materialise overnight. In fact, she didn’t even start out to be an actress. “I had wanted to be a singer,” she says. “I entered the My African Dream (MAD) competition twice and while I got second position the first time the second time I didn’t manage to go that far.”

Mophuting came across acting while taking ‘compulsory’ drama classes at Rainbow Secondary School in Gaborone from 2003 to 2007. She got the opportunity to play Annie at Mantlwaneng Theatre while still at secondary school and she knew then her ambitions had shifted from singing to acting. After completing her studies at Rainbow the winds of destiny blew her all the way to Malaysia where she was to study Psychology and Creative Writing. But she would return home after only completing the foundation program. “I just felt it wasn’t for me,” Mophuting says. “I had an epiphany; an aha moment.” She thought it was pointless going ahead and wasting time studying something she was not interested in. “I took a leap of faith.” She returned home and spent the next six months searching for a drama school. “How I would pay for the school I had no idea,” she says. While waiting for school she auditioned for the local television drama, Thokolosi, and got to play Katlego, the sister to the evil Matlakala. It was her first on screen break. “It was my first gig and I had lots of fun,” Mophuting tells Lifestyle. “It gave me confidence and for the first time my parents started believing I could actually pull it off as an actress.”

Like many Batswana parents Mophuting’s had wanted her to follow the conventional and ‘safe’ route of studying for an ‘office’ job and at most, do acting part time. The Thokolosi role would boost her profile leading to her acceptance at African Film and Drama Academy (AFDA) in South Africa where she would do her BA in Live Performance.

And she says getting into drama school is no walk in the park. Like with an acting role, one has to audition. But if the aim is to learn how to become an actor why be expected to possess that skill before enrollment? “It gives them an idea of where to begin with you,” Mophuting explains. While studying at AFDA, Mophuting landed a small supporting role in Etv’s Rhythm City. She also did commercials for KFC and MTN Nigeria and played a role in a miniseries, Single Mothers. Upon completing her studies Mophuting says she went through a rough spell for the first two years. “I struggled to get a job,” she says. To help keep her busy and do something useful with her time Mophuting assisted a friend with music video production. “That’s what really pulled me through.” But just before her 24th birthday in October 2014, she got the most important call of her career yet.

Her agent told her she had landed a role in the popular Mzansi Magic drama series, Isibaya. “It was a perfect birthday present,” she says.

She would play the role of Kaone. Although first joining the household and working without pay Kaone would part ways with the Zungus only to return again thanks to Iris Zungu, working as a proper nanny for Iris’ baby. Mophuting plays alongside some of SA’s most respected and recognised actors in the form of Siyabonga Thwala, Thembi Nyandeni, and S’dumo Mtshali. She says her role in the drama series has taken her confidence to even greater heights. Mophutiong still continues with her music video production when she is not on set and boasts of having produced videos for the likes of Nigeria’s D’banj among other artists. She would love to work with Botswana artists. “I get frustrated when I don’t get to see our artists on international music channels like Mtv Base,” she says.

Now that she is on a popular television show is Mophuting smiling all the way to the bank? “I can afford to pay my bills and do a bit of shopping,” she says. “It is just like any other career. You have to build your way up before you can start demanding a bigger cheque.” The best thing about her acting career, Mophuting says, is that it feels more like a hobby than a job. Her dream is to take on movie roles both as an actress and a producer. “I want to come to New Capitol Cinemas one day and watch a movie i have produced and star in.”

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