She has just the makings of a person who should decide what makes it to our screens. She may be young, but Flavia Motsisi has seen the best and worst of Gauteng and that helps in her job.
Flavia (31) is the commissioning editor of some of the best shows on TV today at Multichoice and Showmax.
Born of a Mozambican father and a Motswana mother, she was born in the mining town of Klerksdorp because her father was a geologist there.
“I’m here, but I have had a hard life,” she says.
She cannot really pin down a response when she is asked where she grew up because she moved from Klerksdorp by the time she was five. Her parents separated when she was two and when she was five, her mother wanted to pursue work in ministry .
“We moved around a lot, 27 times to be exact,” she says.
“When my mom and I first arrived in Jorburg, we found a nice Portuguese couple in Newlands that had a store and they let us stay in their garage. My mom had decided to follow her calling as a pastor, so during the week a portion of the garage would be a salon, but we also used it as a church on Sundays. We stayed there for about a year or two.
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“Then we moved around to other parts of town. I have lived in the East and West Rand, in Soweto and even in Joburg Central. We would move from different rooms to garages depending on what rent my mother could afford.”
She is the youngest of three children. Her brother is nine years older and her sister is four years older. At the age of 18, her sister became a flight attendant and bought her mother a house in Katlehong.
“That was the longest we had stayed anywhere, because we stayed there for about seven years. But because film school was so expensive, my mother decided to sell the house so she could pay for my fees. Then we were back to rooms and garages.
“There would be times I would be behind on fees and I had to be pulled out of class while at AFDA and it would be so humiliating. And again, my mother would make sacrifices and sell sandwiches on street corners to try make money.”
During her school years, she attended Afrikaans schools because they were the only ones that were willing to subsidize her.
“I did all my subjects in Afrikaans at school. I speaker better Afrikaans than I do English.”
After AFDA, she interned at the Kyknet Channels.
“I had a production qualification, but the Afrikaans was a great bonus because I am proficient in it.”
Fast-forward to her role now, Flavia says her upbringing is a great influence in her job.
“I am a grateful for my upbringing because I believe it helps when I am listening to pitches. With the kind of life I have lived, I have seen all sorts of conditions that people find themselves in.
“Now I have a voice and I am deliberate and adamant about the empowerment of women, specifically women of colour. I get no pleasure in walking into boardrooms and being the only one who looks and sounds the way I do. That is why I believe in leaving the door open for other women coming behind me.”
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Her mother has since gotten married and has a house, but Flavia still wants to buy her a house.
“I know it is not necessary because they are happily married and has a home, but this is something I need to do. Over the years I have done things for my mom, including buying her a car. But I need to buy her a property, so right now, the two of us are house shopping.
After Kyknet she joined the Mzansi channels where she was the junior commissioning editor and after her promotion four years ago, she has been serving as the commissioning editor.
She is the proud “Rich Aunty Fala” to her five nieces and nephews, and she is grateful for her close-knit family.
“My siblings are both married and I have great relationships with them and their partners. My brother is also my pastor. My sister truly carries me emotionally. We are very supportive to each other in our different careers. I love their children and they call me Aunty Fala, but I have asked them to add ‘rich’ to that title because I am speaking it into existence.
“I value marriage and I hope that I will be married too, one day.”