Motshegwa’s 40s have been her golden decade. She says it’s the one that’s made the most sense to her, when she’s been able to trade in self-sabotaging beliefs for affirming ones, and become genuinely comfortable in who she is.

It’s also enabled her to state her dislikes with ease, saying fashionable buzz-words like “authentic” and “narrative” are misused. She’s hilarious too, sharing side-splitting one-liners throughout our interview.

The popular misperceptions of her are that she’d left acting and that she’s notorious for turning down roles. She’s quick to set the record straight. “I never left acting: there were just no roles for me. Can we just tell the truth!? Secondly, I don’t say ‘no’ to work,” she explains before bursting into an abrupt laughter.

While she acknowledges that the acting industry isn’t what it used to be, she insists that a truly good actor doesn’t require a spin doctor or social media posts to enhance their credibility. “Good work speaks for itself,” she says. “I’m all about digging deeply and unpacking any character I play, whereas another actress might want to just be pretty and famous – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We don’t all have to want the same thing.” 

ACTRESS WITH A CAUSE

Motshegwa recently made her first local TV comeback in four years on 1Magic’s telenovela The River, in which she plays Malefu, a widow who’s left to provide for her family unassisted after learning that her husband skipped two payments of their funeral insurance policy. The role’s a far cry from her last major role, in e.tv’s Rhythm City, as the conniving, psychopathic Naomi.

“After Rhythm City, I knew I couldn’t play another heavy character,” she says. “The levels of toxicity were just too high for me. I wanted to portray someone soft who was also closer to black people’s reality. My character in The River came at a time when my mother and I were having many conversations about death.”