Moshidi Motshegwa. Picture: Supplied

It might seem that seasoned actress Moshidi Motshegwa is taking time out from acting, but the winner of the Golden Horn Award for Best Actress in a TV Soap has played the Maroon Queen in two seasons of Black Sails, the American adventure series.

Motshegwa also produced the movie, Noem My Skollie, which was nominated for the SAFTAs, and was South Africa’s official selection for the 89th Annual Academy Awards (Oscars) in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Now she will be appearing on small screens as Malefu in the new telenovela, The River, which made its debut last night on DSTV's new channel 1 Magic at 8pm.

Sunday Indy asked her about her new role.

What drew you to the character of Malefu?

What a lot of actors look for is a character they’ve never played before, a character that will challenge them and force them to dig deep. Malefu has a story and her story is shared by many women from all walks of life. She loves too much and she believes in God, and when everything else doesn’t make sense to her, her faith is the only thing that keeps her going.

I loved the fact that Malefu is a mother and a wife, so everything she does is bigger than her. She’s not a self-serving person.

Tell us about Malefu and what you enjoy most about her. How did you prepare for the role?

There are many aspects to her. She’s strong, vulnerable, stubborn, but very forgiving. She wants what’s best for her children, but she’s not controlling. I’m always preparing to be Malefu. I observe women around me wherever I am. I take a bit of what I find interesting in every woman I meet. I read the Bible a lot because that’s Malefu’s life manual.

Moshidi Motshegwa. Picture: Supplied

Malefu is described as the matriarch, what are the similarities between you and her?

We’re both strong and we stand up for what we believe in.

What should the people who love you expect from this character, considering they were bowled over by Naomi from Rhythm City?

This character is completely different from Naomi and I love that. Naomi enjoyed killing people, whereas Malefu is a nurturer. She’s everyone’s mother.

I think the only similarity is that they’re both stubborn about what they believe in, and they just want to be happy (although they go about finding happiness in different ways).

Malefu can be over the top, very religious and also tender. What I find most interesting about her is that we all have a person in our lives who is Malefu. Be it a neighbour, someone from church, an aunt or whoever. She’s also quite funny, without realising it.

What do you think people love about your craft because every single character you’ve played has been infectious?

I become the character I’m playing and I think people can see that. I’m always trying to find the different layers of a character. What do they eat? What kind of stockings do they wear? What music do they listen to? How do they iron their clothes? Do they like juice or soft drinks? Those sorts of questions help get to the essence of a character. I’m also fortunate that the producers I’ve worked with have been kind enough to allow me to interpret the characters as I see them and bring new life to them. It’s always a collaboration. And the cast I work with always contribute to how I perform, because I don’t work in a vacuum.

What is your biggest wish for the arts industry when it comes to telling our stories?

That we continue to tell stories that are truthful, stories that represent who we are as a people. I also love the fact that broadcasters are becoming more open-minded about giving opportunities to new, young, black producers and writers.

Is there any role you wish to play?

I’m open to playing any role that will challenge me.

Any last words?

The River is an amazing show, which I’m very grateful to be a part of. I think viewers are going to love it.

* The River airs Mondays at 8pm on DSTV's 1 Magic, channel 103.