Last updated on Jan 27th, 2021 at 08:29 pm

Terry Pheto is currently one of South Africa’s hottest commodities and her stock grew this weekend when she won the Best Actress award at the British Urban Film Festival

She spoke to All4Women this week about her big win, her career and South Africa’s current crises.

When it comes to entertainment CVs, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more impressive than that of Moitheri Pheto.

The 38-year-old actress is the definition of “internationally renowned” and she further embellished this title over the weekend when she walked away with a BUFF award for her role in the critically acclaimed drama, Faces.


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Punctuality comes with professionalism and it came as no surprise that the actress was ready to take my call the minute that the clock struck 1 pm on a sunny afternoon in Johannesburg.

I remember the sharp intake of breath my lungs afforded me as I fumbled through my greeting before congratulating her on her big award win. Entertainment journalists also get star struck you know!

Once I had finished pouring the compliments, Terry replied, “Thank you, it’s really flattering and the support from South Africa has been tremendous. I have been adulated and drowned in love from across the country and it has absolutely blown me away!” She added, “It is great to be recognised by your peers and also to have your work acknowledged across borders as well.”

Terry plays the role of Aisha in Faces, a multi-narrative film where the storylines eventually converge (no spoilers). The film also stars Zimbabwean-British actress, Shingai Shoniwa and was directed by Nigerian-British Joseph A Adesunloye.

At a time when these three nations are at the heart of xenophobia-fuelled tension across the country, I wondered if Faces was a testimony to what Africans can do when we work together

Not only did the actress agree, but she had a strong message for the rest of South Africa when she said, “The film blended lots of different nationalities together and was brought to life by the teamwork and talents of everyone involved.

“The xenophobia we are seeing is extremely sad because before we are men and women, before we are South Africans and Nigerians, we are humans. We speak the same languages, we share Ubuntu, and this violence is extremely disheartening.”

Terry did acknowledge, however, that her BUFF win was well-timed, especially as it diffused the tension in the country and gave us a positive story to focus on. However, she was not able to collect her award in person because she was preparing for jury duty. No, not that kind of jury duty! The filmmaker has been selected as a jury member for the 92nd Academy Awards – AKA the Oscars – and preparations for the selection process have already begun.

I tried to get some information from her but she was tight-lipped, “I don’t even know how you knew about this because it’s not supposed to be a well-publicised thing. I am on the jury but I can’t say much else. I do think though that we need to watch ALL South African films, and I saw that Knuckle City has been submitted for Oscars consideration. South Africans should back it and other local films in the coming months”.

It’s clear to see that Terry is doing extremely well in her career but she’s had to deal with her fair share of haters over the years

I asked how she deals with the negativity and wasn’t surprised when she said, “At the end of the day everybody has an opinion and they are entitled to it.

“Not everybody will love everything you do, but if I was in this business for people’s approval I wouldn’t be where I am.”

Before we ended the interview I wanted to bring our conversation back home. The past two weeks have seen large numbers of women (and several men) declaring that #EnoughIsEnough, in response to the ongoing spate of attacks on women and girls.

Terry was frank in acknowledging that not only is femicide an issue that needs addressing, but that everybody has a part to play

“We need the government to intervene and it’s not happening, so people have gotten so frustrated that they want to take the law into their own hands. It’s sad and daunting to be a woman in this country. It’s sad that we have to live like that, it’s not the future that anybody wants for their kids and we need men to stand up and start taking action.

“Yes I have a platform as a celebrity and I should be using it, but we all have a role to play in ending the violence. You can influence people around you and so can I. I also believe we need to be a lot kinder to one another”.


Before wrapping up, I invited a few friends to share some lighter questions, most of which involved her upcoming plans (a brand new feature film for 2019) and weight-loss tips (cut out the sugar and alcohol).

When one eager friend pushed to know who she was dating, I couldn’t help laughing at her frank reply.

“A guy”.

And that was the end of that!