There seems to be a new Simphiwe in town, judging by your social media posts. Have you found a new groove?
The new me started off with my hair. When I cut it after having dreadlocks for nine years, it gave me a lot of freedom. It was revolutionary to discover that short hair really suits me, especially as we women are always so scared of changing our hair. Once I’d done it, I was willing to try anything! I’ve been experimenting with doing my own make-up, which is very new for me and even wearing high heels, which I’ve never done before. I’m a tomboy who really never rated beauty as important because my intellect was always much more of a priority.
However, I have to admit that I’m thoroughly enjoying the process of beautifying myself these days – but still within the confines of my personal brand. I don’t believe in artists going on a tangent, away from who we know them to be. I’m all for growing within yourself and becoming better, but you can’t grow away from your roots. I hope that never happens to me.
What’s your new film project about?
It’s a short film based on Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life, so it’s one I was very happy to do. It’s called Joko Yahao– a name based on a traditional hymn – and it’s about the intersection of religion and activism. My character wants to be a pastor because she wants love and justice for her people and for them to remain pure. It’s directed by Mmabatho Montsho and produced by Leo Phiri as part of the Being Mandela project to commemorate the centenary this year. When Mmabatho approached me, I thought it was exactly what I needed. I felt it would bring something to my character that I’ve been missing for a while: that it would give me purpose, make me refocus and remember who I am.
And it did just that. It reminded me of how far I’ve come to get here and the fights and sacrifices I’ve been through. It also reminded me of my activism and what it means. It’s very hard being a black woman and an activist. It’s a thankless job and we do it only because we feel strongly about justice and love and all the good things the world needs. I found the experience traumatizing, but amazing. It felt good to celebrate struggle heroines, as it’s always the men who get the glory.
You’re also busy with a new album. How’s that going?
It’s been quite a process as I had to be ready spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. I’ve been working on it almost every day since November last year and I haven’t even started on the musical production yet – I’m still busy writing.