No matter how many awards internationally celebrated actress Terry Pheto bags, she says the novelty doesn’t wear off.
Being in a highly competitive industry for close to 15 years, Terry says each acknowledgement is encouraging and means that her place in the industry is still visible and her talents appreciated.
Last week, the star was named as the Best Actress at the fifth annual British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) in the UK for her role in the film FACES. The film bagged three awards in total, including a Best Actor and Best feature film.
“Such recognitions makes me want to wake up and go to set more. They make me want to work and continue to pour myself into this industry that appreciates my work,” said the star.
She describes her role in FACES, which follows an oppressed South African woman who relocated to London and is married to an abusive Muslim man, as one that spoke to her.
“It was a very difficult and different role from anything that I have played.
“This was work I chose to challenge myself. With this role, I had to tap into a new world that delves deeper into a woman who is oppressed through religion but allows that to happen because of her need for validation and to be seen, even in these unpleasant circumstances.
“Until later, where we see her grow, coming out of her shell, and finding her feet to stand up for herself.
“I really thought it would be an interesting journey for me to tap into this side of society’s sickness because I know a lot of successful women who are respected in society, yet are in abusive relationships.
“Putting myself in their shoes opens a page in my career where I can interact with this character, and therefore, that gives me permission to embody her without judgement and understand the struggles that abuse victims endure on a deeper level,” she said.
As one of South Africa’s most celebrated acting exports, @TerryPheto continues to push the envelope & show not only South Africa but the world, what it means to be great. Congratulations for winning Best Actress at the British Urban Film Festival Awards in London. Keep it up!🇿🇦 pic.twitter.com/MX9Gc77QVt
Terry believes it is the honesty she presents in her work that continues to draw people to her and open more work opportunities for her.
She is also a jury member of the 92nd Annual Academy Awards (Oscars) for Best Foreign Film category and says this is a privilege and a great honour for her. The work-wheel keeps turning for Terry. Even with so much on her plate, the global citizen is working on a feature film called Courting Anati, which she co-produces with Akin Omotoso and Maps Maponyane.
“We are currently in pre-production and hope that in 2020 we will be releasing it. It feels so good to be back on-set wearing a producer’s hat,” she said, adding that transitioning to behind the scenes has always been part of her plans.
She admits that while life has afforded her many opportunities, one of which is to choose where she wants to live, her love for her country keeps her coming back to South Africa.
“I know we are an incredible people. I am just disappointed by a lot of things that have been happening.
“Still, I have so much faith in us because we have overcome the worst before, and I believe we still have the best days ahead of us,” she said.
The gender-based violence that has been sweeping across the country is one of her biggest concerns as a South African.
“Even though I am extremely excited about life right now, there is a sense of worry with all that has been happening in the nation.
“And as a South African woman who has so many beautiful things happening in her life, I cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening because I am still a woman in SA. I am still endangered and constantly wonder #AmINext,” she said.
Terry says she has her eyes firmly set on directing.