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Local actor stars in Winnie

by Lesotho Times

Khahliso Khama

MASERU — When the biopic Winnie hits the big screen early next year, watch out for the bodyguard by the main actress Jennifer Hudson’s side.

It’s none other than Lesotho’s own Mojaki Maxwell Moiloa, 24, from Mohale’s Hoek!

Hollywood star and singer Hudson plays the leading role in the movie as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with her American compatriot Terrence Howard starring as the iconic Nelson Mandela.

Moiloa is the Mandelas’ bodyguard.

This has been an amazing year for the budding Mohale’s Hoek actor who has also landed a role in South Africa’s popular TV soapie Generations.

For Winnie, based on the life of South Africa’s apartheid struggle heroine Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Moiloa beat hundreds others who auditioned for the bodyguard’s role.

“I was overwhelmed because I auditioned alongside some of the actors who have been in the industry for a very long time but I managed to beat them,” Moiloa told the Weekender yesterday.

Winnie was shot in Soweto and Cape Town between July and September.

The movie is expected to premiere early next year.

Moiloa hopes his role in the biopic will see his stock in the industry rising.

“I felt very proud after shooting the movie because it will be shown all over the world,” he said.

“I hope producers will spot my talent because I did my best in the movie.

“I just can’t wait for it to be out.”

Moiloa said acting alongside the 29-year-old Hudson, who won an Academy Award and several other accolades for her role in Dreamgirls, was a remarkable experience.

“Working with Jennifer Hudson was like a dream come true,” he said.

“I wasn’t expecting to work with such a star at this time because I am still new in the industry.”

“Jennifer is amazing,” Moiloa added. “She even sang a song for me while we were shooting the movie.”

He said his favourite scene in Winnie is when he shields Nelson Mandela from a pack of journalists wanting to interview him after his release from prison.

“It was exciting because I felt in charge,” Moiloa said of the scene.

The local actor has since August been appearing in South Africa’s loved TV soapie Generations.

Moiloa features in the soapie as an employee at Ezweni Communications where he works closely with Khethiwe and Jason.

He however first appeared in Generations as an extra in March.

“I started off at Generations as a background artist and then later got a lively role,” Moiloa said.

“However, I am still patient, hoping for a bigger role in the soapie.”

Just this month, Moiloa also landed a role in SABC 1’s drama Sokhulu and Partners in which he acts as a policeman.

He also shoots with Muvhango, another popular South African soapie, as a background artist and does television advertisements for FNB.

It’s been an amazing rise for Moiloa who left for Johannesburg at 19 soon after he completed secondary education at Mohale’s Hoek High School.

His father had just passed away and he decided to cross the border to look for a job.

“When my father passed away, my family struggled to make ends meet so I couldn’t continue with my studies,” Moiloa told the Weekender.

“I decided to go to South Africa with the intention of hunting for a job so that I would earn money to pay for my fees.”

But when he got to South Africa, he fell in love with theatre.

“I always wanted to be an actor,” Moiloa said.

“When I got to South Africa, I got exposed to the world of theatre and I knew then that’s what I wanted to do in life.

“It wasn’t easy to get into the industry but I worked hard so that my talent would be recognised by the right people.”

His first break came in the same year, 2006, when he was cast for the leading role in The Forgotten Kingdom, a film produced by Lewis Mudge, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho.

The Forgotten Kingdom was my first ever experience in front of the camera,” Moiloa recalled.

“I was nervous before but when I saw the camera, my lines came out naturally and I enjoyed shooting.

“It was such a humbling experience for the first time as an amateur working with a professional and experienced team.

“The movie has opened doors for me in my career so I deem it the most important in my life.”

In 2007, keen to further his studies as an actor, Moiloa first went to a Johannesburg arts school before leaving for the North West province where he attended North West Arts College for a year.

After that, in 2008 Moiloa founded his production company, Remo Productions, which deals with the production of plays and movies.

The same year, he directed a theatre play called The Broken Future under his company which earned him respect in the North West and other parts of South Africa.

The Broken Future also won him the North West Calabash award in 2008.

“With the experience that I had, I decided to start my company Remo Productions so that I would create my own plays,” Moiloa said.

He was later engaged by the North West department of sports, arts and culture as an acting coach for arts in the province.

Since then, he said, he has never looked back although his career almost fell apart when his mother died last year.

“When my mom died I was hopeless and nearly left my career but I looked back at the efforts I had put in to be where I am and told myself there was still hope,” Moiloa said.

“I realised I was now on my own so I had to go out, face the world and work harder.”

Four months later, he went back to Johannesburg to chase his dream of becoming a star in the international film industry.

In February this year, his agent, Zero to Hero, called him to audition for Muvhango and Generations.

A few days after the auditions, his agent called him to tell him he had a small role in Generations.

“On that day, I got a life-changing phone call,” Moiloa recalled.

“I knew right there and then that my life was about to change for the better.

“I have never been so happy.”

His first day on set was “amazing”.

“On my first day on Generations, I met Karabo (Connie Ferguson),” Moiloa said.

“Then other huge characters came in and I was troubled.

“I was torn between them all.

“I didn’t know who to focus my attention on.

“It was exciting and at the same time nerve-wrecking.”

And with the world set to watch him on Winnie, the sky can only be the limit for the Mohale’s Hoek man.

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