She was introduced to the world as the leading lady in the Oscar-award winning film Tsotsi and Terry Pheto has since became an international brand. Having starred in one of the longest US soapie Bold and the Beautiful, and having her recent dream role, playing Winnie Mandela. “I've been crossing fingers for years to play Winnie Mandela bad finally it happened and my heart is still full right now,” she said excitedly.
Based on a true story Terry Pheto alongside David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike bring to life the beautiful love story of the first president of Botswana Sir Seretse Khama and his British wife Ruth Williams in a new film called ‘A United Kingdom’.
Their interracial marriage almost caused an international uproar but despite all the obstacles, it is love that conquers at the end.
As the beautiful Pheto walks into the Nelson Mandela foundation in Houghton to discuss her role in the movie, she makes her presence felt and the choice of venue couldn't be more significant.
She walks into the Nelson Mandela foundation in Houghton, and carries so much dignity, signifying the choice of venue as fitting for her.
Pheto spoke to IOL about her role in the film which premiered in Mzansi on November 25.
You play Naledi, the sister to Sir Seretse, how did you get into the character in this powerful love story?
“I think that's what drew me to the story, this untold beautiful love story. I knew that Sir Seretse Khama married a white woman but I had no idea, I thought it was nice, but because they are not South Africans so you don't think it through.
Reading the script , how they met, how romantic he was and how they fell in love and I remember reading rooting for them. All the challenges, the British government, Botswana government, the family( both families) South African government, apartheid.
As a South African, it was amazing to see the role that we as South Africans kind of played, the weapon that they used which was love and the power of love as well.
If you think about it nothing would move any girl from across the continent to live in a rural village unless it's love and it's real love.
Naledi is like sort of that rock and she's very quite throughout the film but very strong, very present and the support that she has for Ruth , even though they started off very shaky and understandably so because you question people's intentions.
So I was just drawn to this untold love story. The story of a hero, yes it's a polical story. It's story of a man who saved his country and the country's minerals and that's why Botswana is still one of the richest countries because of that and it's captured in the film. And you're like huh, I had no idea, that why Botswana doesn't have #FeesMustFall because kids are taken care of because this happened. It's more than just must a love story.
Do you think as South Africans we've captured love stories of our stalwarts, if not do you think we will ever see something like this?
I hope so...I hope we still tell our history and the stories of our heroes but just use love as a theme. Yes we get that Winnie and Nelson' s romance but it's never about that - it's always about other things. With time they will come, that's why we need to keep writing and producing with a different agenda.
You have been nominated in the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), in the Supporting Actress category, why do you think you were nominated?
''Well because I think they recognise my work and efforts, and these things are always based on merit, so you don't audition for awards, well you kind of do in a way because you put your work out there for people to judge it, and if they like it you might get nominated ''
'' I know Naomie Harris is also nominated because I know her so it was also like a big deal because I have huge love and respect her , to be nominated with her in the same category is a big one'', she laughs.
The awards are happening next weekend and we are of to London Thursday'', she adds.
You have done a lot thus far, so where to from here?
''You know as much as it might seem like I've done a lot, but I haven't, its just that I've done projects that have been so successful it seems like I've done a lot, honestly I'm still hungry for more work, for challenging exciting work, exciting roles, so where to from here...hopefully to set, hopefully to work, hopefully to my next audition''
* The BIFA will take place on December 4 in London.
We are all rooting for you girl! #ProudlySouthAfrican.