Pic: Xavier Saer
Pic: Xavier Saer

Pheto shifts gears in a glowing career

By Shingai Darangwa Time of article published Aug 5, 2018

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Since she broke into the film industry with her star-making role in 2005’s Oscar-winning feature film, Tsotsi, Terry Pheto has been a mainstay on the local and international film circuit.

The past two years have seen Pheto turn up the heat, with the portrayal of some powerful women on the big screen.

First it was her role as the late founding president of Botswana Sir Seretse Khama’s only sister, Naledi Khama, in A United Kingdom.

Then came perhaps her most distinguished role to date, the portrayal of the late Winnie-Madikizela Mandela in the American drama TV miniseries, Madiba.

Lately, Pheto has been honing her craft as a film producer. She tells me she isn’t shooting anything at the moment but is in the pre-production phase of a film she’ll be producing later this year.

Pheto isn’t quite ready to relinquish her acting powers, though. “I’m loving both very much because I think it puts me in a position where I get to prioritise the kind of projects that I want to and the kind of stories I want to put out there - whether as an actor or a producer.”

Five places in the world where Terry Pheto would love to shoot:


Number one absolutely has to be Johannesburg. There’s no place like it.

I did my first film in Johannesburg, Tsotsi, and it won an Oscar. My first film as a producer was shot in the Johannesburg inner city and it did really well. Johannesburg has an energy like no other in the world. And I feel like it’s a character that most film-makers should write into their stories. Like how New York is for Sex in the City.


It’s so different to what I’m used to. The energy, the people. A friend of mine, Akin Omotoso, has just finished shooting a film in Nigeria and I was looking at the washes - I was blown away by how rich it is cinematically and how we’ve never seen Nigeria that way.

Nairobi, Kenya

I think if you really want to connect Africa you have to try and connect the south, east and the west. Nairobi has got a buzzing energy. I love the neon lights. It’s a city lit like nowhere else in the world and it’s quite appealing for me as a film-maker. They also have great talent. Oh, and the safaris in Kenya just allow you to do so much.

Tokyo, Japan

I’m a very visual person, so I’m attracted to beautiful aesthetics, looks and culture, and I think Japan is one place that has the old, traditional temples and all these things that we’ve heard of for a gazillion years, and the future put together in one place.

Paris, France

I’m actually a really romantic girl at heart. I’d love to see an African love story set in Paris because there are so many African people there. I’d love to do a black love story - a Breakfast at Tiffany’s kind of story set in Paris with beautiful noir people. Can you just imagine a football player and a young ballet dancer? They’ll both speak French and Swahili. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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