Actress Motsoaledi “Mo” Setumo talks about moving on from portraying Mmabatho in The Queen, her love for radio and feeling comfortable in who she is becoming.
She has appeared on Generations: The Legacy, The Queen and other popular television shows. Now playing Tshedi on Showmax’s The Wife, we get to know the actress before her appearance on the hit series.
I’m blessed to have experienced the woman my mom was. She was quadriplegic, but the minute you walked in, you would forget that she was disabled. She looked at life from such a positive viewpoint. Whenever I complained, she would say: ‘I can’t even wipe my own tears or feed myself, and you’re sitting here complaining’. She shaped my view on life. For instance, if you annoy me, I’ll tell you and then move right on. I don’t dwell on the negative.
My love for radio stems from my low self-esteem while growing up. I never believed that I would become an actress. I started in radio and fell in love. Acting then found me. I graduated from Boston Media House in radio broadcasting in 2013, interned at Metro FM, and then became a content producer on Radio 2000. I was taken aback when Motsweding FM called in 2018 to ask that I join its team. I had such a complex about my language. I only started speaking Setswana later in life, and never thought I could use it to express myself clearly. It was embarrassing. Nonetheless, this opportunity came about, and so I had to trust who I am and what I brought.
I was on The Queen for two years, and eventually felt stuck. I love change and need to grow because I get bored easily. I boxed myself in and played the character of Mmabatho well, yet people got annoyed with her. They overlooked my talent, and that messed with my craft. Acting has taught me to stay true to who I am. It can be a messy industry if you’re not grounded! If you don’t know your worth or what you stand for, you’ll be easily swayed. And, you’re on your own. I have learnt to stand up for myself and not be scared to leave when things are not working for me.
I love that my family doesn’t regard me as a celebrity. They see me as their child, and my cousins see the Motsoaledi they grew up with. Yes, I have a few uncles who want to change because I’m on TV (chuckles). But, they’re a great support system. Nothing has changed because I go to work just like everybody else. I fight hard to be known and acknowledged by my name. I always correct people who call me Mmabatho because if this goes on, someone else might remember me as Thabitha, a character I once played. This may result in me never getting the chance to be myself. I want my fans to understand that I am Motsoaledi, an actress who brings characters to life. But, I leave them behind on set.
READ MORE | The Wife’s Mo Setumo on playing Naledi's sister – 'Viewers will have a love-hate relationship with her'
People tend to think that I’m mean or rude because I clap back and don’t let mean-spirited trolls get away with saying things on the Internet. I don’t filter anything because I was first me before I became a public figure or actress. I won’t trade my authenticity for approval.
I would love to play a dark character (chuckles). It takes so much to tap into a dark place, and I would like to experience that. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have agreed to play the character of a lingerie model on Generations: The Legacy. But, I look at it as a learning moment that got me where I am today.
If I were to ever star in a romcom, my love interest would be Yahya Abdul -Mateen II. He is the sexiest and most beautiful man I’ve ever laid my eyes on!
My ideal partner is one who gives emotionally. He will be certain of wanting to be with me, our relationship and himself. I’m uncompromising when it comes to respect. I love little gestures — he will have to call and text me, be affectionate and comfort me when I’m down. I want a solid love connection with him.”
A movie you cried after watching… Law Abiding Citizen.
Love is… Certain.
Favourite app? Instagram.
If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Malva pudding and custard.
Go-to karaoke song… He Wasn’t Man Enough by Toni Braxton.
Funniest person you know. Rami Chuene.
The one time I was star-struck was… When I was on set with Nthati Moshesh in 2016. I was new and didn’t know what to do with myself!