New kid on the block, actress Michelle Mosalakae recently joined hit drama series, Isibaya where she plays an unassuming traditional healer. From her very first episode, viewers were drawn to her beauty and were intrigued by her character, Zakhiti. We caught up with the 22 year old during her lunch break while on set.
“I feel incredibly blessed to be doing what I love and to be on a show as huge as Isibaya, for me this really is a dream come true”, she said. Born and raised in Mabopane, north of Pretoria, Mosalakae said being an entertainer was something she always wanted to do. “For as long as I can remember, I wanted to entertain people, being an actress was not on my radar but I always wanted to make people laugh. It was only in high school where I first did drama that I knew I wanted to be an actress”, she said.
“While in high school my parents noticed that my passion for drama was intensifying so when I told them that I wanted to go to Rhodes University and study drama, they were very supportive because they knew it’s what I really wanted to do but they also had their concerns, and rightfully so”, said Mosalakae.
While at Rhodes, Mosalakae gained experience in acting, theatre work and even directing. “I loved being at Rhodes, I learnt so much, when I graduated last year with my honours, the plan was always to go back home to Pretoria and throw myself into work”.
Something she has done effortlessly. When she returned home, she signed up with a local agency and went for a number of auditions, one of these was for the role of Zakhiti. She said when she got the call back, she could not believe it. “At first I could not believe it, it was pretty surreal for me. What was also really interesting was how interested they were in me as a person and as a performer and I think that's what sets Bomb Shelter Productions apart from other production companies. When they told me the part was mine I was ecstatic”, she said. She does admit however that she was overwhelmed. “I stopped to ask myself if this was really happening, would I really be on the same show with people like Jessica Nkosi and Siyabonga Thwala but at the same time I was so excited because this is what I wanted, it’s what I worked for and I was more than ready”, she said.
On her character, Mosalakae said that although they are aesthetically different, they have similarities. “She is a healer, she wears a doek and I am a 22 year old young lady that loves fashion and I love trying new hairstyles so in that sense we are different but she is also on a journey to make her dreams come true, just as I am. For a long time she has had to put her dreams aside but now she is ready to focus on herself and I think many people will be able to relate to that”, she said.
Recalling her first day on set, she said, “Everyone was so welcoming and warm towards me, I was so happy, from the cast to the crew and even the drivers. They all knew that this is my first real tv job so they really treated me wonderfully and they also allowed me to be myself and to also interpret the character in my own way and that was great”.
Although she has only been on the set of Isibaya for a few weeks, Mosalakae said she has learnt many lessons. “When you are surrounded by such great performers you naturally just feed from their wealth of knowledge. One of the biggest things I have learnt so far is that it is actually perfectly fine not to know everything. I am naturally a very organised and planned person but I realised that nothing in life is certain and you can’t live that way”, she said. “I have also been learning some Zulu on set, I can understand Zulu but I can’t speak it, I am Tswana, it’s been really cool. Isibaya is a Zulu drama series but it’s also a very groundbreaking show, so introducing a Tswana traditional healer on a Zulu show is great”, she said.
One aspect of Mosalakae that can’t be overlooked is her albinism and the representation of people with albinism on television. “I grew up in a very supportive family, my mom is my best friend and she always taught me that I was perfectly normal. I am so many things, I am a daughter, a friend, a cousin and I just happen to have albinism. The fact that I have it does not make me who I am, there are many layers to me. I am extremely proud of my albinism and if I can change someone's perception of albinism or encourage someone with this to go out there and follow their dreams then I am happy”, she said.
On her future plans, the young star said, “I mean look, I’d love to work with Viola Davis, but that’s like in a different universe I think. Right now I am enjoying working on Isibaya and learning, I want to work with as many people as I can and I really just want to get better at my craft and tell stories”, she said.