Mabotja is celebrating 15 years in the industry working in front and behind the scenes. The 32-year-old Pretoria-born star said over the years, she has learnt a lot.
“Anything is possible. I have never in my life thought I would be a director. I have learnt that relationships are everything. No matter how good you are, if you don’t respect your craft and the people you work with, they will never work with you again. I have also learnt that money is not everything. I know we think it is everything, but it is not,” she said.
Mabotja first appeared on TV as a presenter on CrazE and then appeared as an actress on Home Affairs, Zone 14, Generations, Rhythm City and Gospel Grooves, among others. Most recently she enjoyed playing the role of being the mayor of Horizon Deep on Isidingo.
Mabotja said there were similarities to her recent role as Maphuti Mphahlele in the popular SABC3 soapie.
“She is so strict, so driven and sometimes a bit stubborn. Similar to me, she is very passionate and driven,” she said.
The 702 Early Breakfast host had taken a break from acting and said she was a bit nervous when she took the role.
“It wasn’t a break. A lot of people think it was a conscious decision. I didn’t wake up and say ‘I am not acting any more’. What I did was wake up and say: ‘I am a businesswoman, I want to take myself seriously. And what that means is, I can’t be watched on TV being a schoolgirl while I still have to walk into a board meeting and be taken seriously.’ I always said I would act if the right role came along. In the meantime, I just took on projects, building my business and doing me. When the right role came along - a businesswoman on Skeem Saam, I took it.”
She wondered if she still had the ability to act after so many years away from the screen.
“Obviously the expectations are different. You walk on to the set and people know you to be a pro because you’ve been doing it for years. But you feel like it is your first day in school,” Mabotja said.
She is also a director on SABC2 music show Afro Café. She believes there are not enough female directors.
“I’m very blessed that I have worked with some of the top female directors and producers in the country. But the reality is that there is a need for more. It is not easy for a man to be taking orders from a woman. But I am thinking people are coming okay now.”
She added that storytelling needed female perspectives as they are more in touch with emotions.
Mabotja has been part of Afro Café for five seasons. The journey has been interesting and fulfilling.
“Initially we had discussions about me coming on board. At the time, the timing wasn’t right. So I got invited for that particular season to be a musical director. After some time, they asked me if I was keen to come on board to direct the show as well.”
Through this work, she has been able to work with the likes of Jonas Gwangwa and Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse.
Mabotja is now working on starting a foundation that will hone young talent, especially women in the arts.@SthembisoMedia