Thembsie, real name Nomathemba Matu, is undoubtedly one of the best actresses in the country. Speaking to True Love, the actress describes herself as umama wase next door who isn’t regarded as a celebrity in her neighbourhood. “When I want a kota or amagwinya, I stand in the queue like everyone else and buy what I want. If I want to get on a taxi, for whatever reason, I do that. I’m a people’s person,” she says.
On portraying one of the most talked about role on the small screen, Thembsie says she didn’t get a character Bible that dictated how old Petronella should be, or how she should behave. The actress created the role herself, adding that she referenced three people she knows in her personal life. “When Petronella’s around young people, she will act youthful and be full of life. Expose her to the good life and she will fit in because a part of her regards herself as a successful businesswoman who deserves the finer things in life. Give her a broom and she’ll be a resourceful helper and spring clean your house like never before,” the actress says.
Her highlight of portraying Petronella and being a part of The Queen, Thembsie says, is the warm and welcoming feel on set, and how the Fergusons (who produce The Queen) treat the cast and production team. “I love how they conduct themselves and how they’ve given me the freedom to portray and give the character life in the way I see fit,” she says.
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The veteran actress adds that being on set and entertaining the team is also something she always looks forward to. “The entertainment starts on set. The cast always has to hold back their laughter when I’m shooting! By the time the director shouts ‘cut!’ everyone bursts into laughter,” she says.
The 53-year-old mother of two won in the Favourite Actress category at the DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Award late last year. She was nominated alongside her on-screen boss Rami Chuene, Lockdown’s Linda Sebezo, The River’s Moshidi Motshegwa and Skeem Saam’s Lesego Marakal.
Bursting with pride and emotion, Thembsie says she's humbled by the positive feedback South Africans have given her, adding that viewers anticipated the nomination. “It honesty feels like I’m dreaming. I am so excited and thrilled about this and had really prayed to. get it – for myself and for my fans. So it means a lot to me.”
Earlier this year, Thembsie was approached by Cell C via her Facebook page to be a brand ambassador for the mobile network. “This is beyond exciting for me. I sometimes question myself if all of this is really happening to me – God’s timing is everything.”
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Having been in the industry for more than 30 years, Thembsie advises young and upcoming artists to be disciplined and to always hone their skill. “Firstly, you need to be talented, then have an incredible work ethic and attitude. You need to be willing to learn every day. I still learn something new daily, despite having been in the industry for many years.” She adds that looks aren’t an indication of how talented a person is. “I’m not saying there aren’t good looking talented actors, but if you’re talented, the rest will follow,” she explains, adding that if you believe in yourself and your capabilities, then the audience will see that and buy into your skill, despite of your looks.
Lastly, she advises both males and females to not use sexual means to get ahead because they’ll never be fulfilled and happy. “No business savvy woman or man will sacrifice their business just because of you. The day someone with talent comes alone, you will be replaced,” she concludes.