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Motene continues to redefine her brand as a businesswoman and as an entertainer. But it’s her activism on issues affecting women that sees the award-winning actress speaking loudly and confidently. This month, Motene is back with a benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues. All the proceeds will go to People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa).

How did you become an activist?
Regarding my activism I had two major “aha” moments. First when I spoke freely about an abusive relationship at the Masimanyane women’s group in 2002, I realised that I had not dealt with a lot of my issues and I still blamed myself. My second moment came after I performed in the first benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues and that’s when I realised I could do a lot more for women who are abused, but I needed to be equipped to do that. Not long after that I was introduced to the director of Powa.

Tell us about the programmes you run for women?
I am the deputy chair for Powa and I also run women empowerment workshops, give talks and I lobby for Powa where I can.

Since my involvement with The Vagina Monologues back in 2003 I have been part of two benefit performances.

Last year I was part of the women’s symposium who were invited to Kenya and I was amongst the delegates from across Africa. From there we decide to run with the One Billion Rising campaign.

I was chosen as SA’s ambassador and I sit on the Regional Arts Council. Last year we climbed Kilimanjaro and this year we send eight men off on Harley-Davidsons to ride around nine Southern African countries under the banner of stopping women abuse.

How does it feel to be bringing back The Vagina Monologues?
It’s exciting and nerve-wracking! Working with no budget has its challenges but it’s worth it. I have never produced theatre before but I’m working with one of the industries greats, Gina Shmukler, who is directing. Our stellar cast is also amazing and it’s great to be able to work with other dynamic and passionate individuals.

What have you learned from Eve Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues?
She is like a ladybird, beautiful, intriguing and passionate. She flies all around and wherever she lands, she creates a feeling of warmth and comfort. What she has done for women around the world is astounding and phenomenal.

How important is The Vagina Monologues message for South Africa?
In SA we underestimate the negative effects that abuse has on society. I’m hoping that many men and women will come and see it, learn, laugh and educate themselves. Remember, the production is not only about abuse but an expression of who we are as women. It’s a celebration of our existence, our femininity, grace, sexiness and understanding our bodies.

What else will be keeping you occupied this year?
My talent agency WAKA is casting for e.tv’s romance films. I have also landed a Hollywood contract, which will involve my artists from Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. The contracts have to be signed, so I cannot talk too much on this just yet. I have been in development stage for a feature film and hopefully we will go into production in May. There are talks of my own talk show on TV, which will be a direct link to my radio show on Chai FM.

* Catch The Vagina Monologues at the Wits Main Theatre on 10 February at 7pm. Tickets cost R150 (R50 for students).