After having a good run at the Durban International Film Festival recently with her first big budget feature film, Baby Mamas, actress and producer, Salamina Mosese, is feeling confident about it hitting cinemas on October 12.
Mosese, who is no stranger to the entertainment industry, is known for her roles on Soul Buddyz, Backstage, 7de Laan, Abo Mzala, for which she won an award, and for presenting on Craze and Top Billing. She also acted in films like Beat the Drum and The Ring.
But the wife and mother of one has moved on to greater heights. She produced and plays the lead in Baby Mamas, a romcom that shows the other side of the typical single mother drama storyline.
She stars alongside Kay Smith, Thembisa Mdoda and Dineo Ranaka, each going through different phases of being a single mother.
“When I first read the script, I laughed, cried and thought, ‘wow!’ It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read because it was based on true life scenarios. I play Tuli, a level-headed woman. She’s gone through all the stages of being a baby mama, starting with ‘what people will say’ then ‘he’s not going near my child’ then the ‘how could you’ stage and finally the ‘I love you, but I can’t be with you’,” said Mosese.
Other themes explored in the film are love, relationships, single mother parenting, ambitious and aspirational women who have big dreams, friendships and family.
She said it was really hard to make movies in SA, but when she looked at the final product, it had all been worth it.
“When it’s your first film, you realise that you have so much to prove to all the people who trusted you with their money. We may have gone into it naive. It was like a baptism of fire. But seeing the final product was worth it,” said Mosese.
Baby Mamas had international success at a few film festivals, including the Toronto Film Festival where the audience was pleasantly surprised.
“The advantage was that we got to see how international audiences responded to the film and it was a gift to see that they laugh at the same things we hoped they would laugh at and respond in the same way that South Africans would respond. We think like South Africans because this is home, this is our context. It was so interesting to see that we are more alike than we are different,” she said.
However, she said the news of the film getting into the DIFF line-up was both scary and exciting.
“Coming to SA is our biggest test. For us, this felt so much scarier because this is the market we made the film for. And it was really special to have gotten into the festival. Now we just have to wait for it to hit cinemas and see how people respond to it.”
Mosese said she had been fortunate find a way into the industry 20 years ago and she felt that actors and actresses face a lot more challenges nowadays.
“The industry is harder now. I look at the stuff the ‘it’ girls are going through and I’m shocked. I am so glad I’ve passed this phase. The pressure is a lot more and luckily I am able to step back and see and understand that it’s a completely different ball game.
"And I’m so happy to be more behind the scenes than in front of the camera. And even when I’m in front of the camera, I’m the one choosing my projects and it’s a completely different reality to when every single audition is life and death for you,” Mosese said.
She said the entertainment industry is one of the only industries where rejection is part of everyday life and it’s also one of the reasons why there is so much drug abuse.
“So many people are walking around broken because of the industry. You need to have emotional intelligence, otherwise it makes things worse. As women, you are sometimes put in such dangerous positions to get the job. Overall, it’s harder for a woman. Whether it’s behind the scenes or in front of the camera and especially for people coming into the industry, it leaves them vulnerable.”
Looking back, she said she was in a happier place now because she knows herself better.
“I’ve certainly enjoyed growing up in the industry. I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a person from the industry and I’ve also learnt to let go of some other parts that you pick up as a result of being in the industry. I’ve learnt that in order to sustain yourself, you need to design it for yourself, to do the stuff that suits your personality and the way you want to see yourself in a couple of years.”
The most exciting thing for Mosese right now, however, is the changes within the film industry.
“There are more players in the field, and that’s always great for variety. The old players are still there, but they had to reinvent themselves. But we getting to see young, upcoming talent now, and that means there is growth in the industry,” she said.
Mosese is the co-owner of Sorele Media, along with writer and director, Stephina Zwane. The two started the company about 10 years ago but officially started doing business in 2015.
“We started on an online platform called Aza TV, where we produce all of our own content. It’s conceptualised and shot by us. At the moment, we have eight different programmes. This was in response to the digital move. We understand and see in other parts of the world that people are used to getting content off their phones or laptops. Here in SA, we are still spoilt by television. We really wanted to get ahead and pioneer in that space,” she said.
As a producer, Mosese is in charge of getting the finance, casting the actors, advising on strategies and script editing, while her business partner, Zwane, works on brainstorming ideas, script writing and directing.
On a personal level, Mosese said she is most happy away from the camera, chilling at home, either reading a book, watching TV or blog.
“Away from the camera, I am a very happy person. Sometimes you do need a break, and when I’m away from the camera, I keep my life as normal as possible. I am a shy and reserved adult and love my private time.
"At home, I’m not about the make-up or the weave. I want my daughter to see me as just Mom running a business, Mom attending soccer games, Mom doing the dishes,” she said.
“I’ve also travelled a lot, and that started with my parents at a young age. Every December we would visit the coast. By the time I was in Grade 9, I had been to Durban over 10 times. Since then, I’ve travelled to Miami, Paris, New York, UK, Dubai and most recently, Bali. If I could travel and get paid for it, then that would be my perfect life,” Mosese said.
Baby Mamas will be in cinemas on October 12.