Donald Molosi is one of the most influential Performing artistes in Botswana.
In 2015 he was shortlisted for the Story Day Africa and he won the Bessie Head Literature Award and got honoured off-Broadway.
His Book about the first President of Botswana, the late Seretse Khama and the first lady, Lady Ruth Khama, has been accepted in so many different countries, and currently translated into French in Cote d’Ivoire to be taught in schools.
His play ‘Blue, Black and White’ has gone international.
Molosi is a singer and a writer who believes in sharing his ideas with the world through stage performances.
Voice Journalist, Onneile Setlalekgosi sat down with Molosi to chat about his journey so far.
Q. Finally, I get to meet a classically trained actor and award-winning playwright!Please share on what you studied to become such an inspiring performer?
Haha…I have Bachelor’s degree in theoretical economy and in theatre as separate Degrees.
I then went on to study classical acting as a Graduate Degree in London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
What my classical training entailed was training to use all the tools in the body as an instrument to tell a story.
So we had three movement and voice classes, voice in terms of singing, voice in terms of speaking and voice in relation to text.
It is just taking apart the instrument that you use to tell a story, using classical text like William Shakespeare and that’s where it gets its name.
Q. When did you become a playwright?
Playwright it was not until my Masters in theatre and performance study in California that I started publishing plays so it almost took me studying what I do academically for me to write plays.
Q. You are such an energetic performer, when did you discover your talent?
One thing that I was sure of from an early age was the passion, I do not know if I was worried about talent at that age.
I always knew that I want to be an actor at four years old.
Q. At what age did you start performing professionally?
I started performing professionally at the age of 15 years, at the national art festival in South Africa, doing work on SABC and attracting airwaves from local radio stations such as Yarona FM and Botswana television.
It was actually crazy because all this came in one year!
We were the first children to go on television through UNICEF so that’s when I discovered my talent because people responded, so may of them would stop me in the malls and talk about my talent.
Q. You sound too passionate Don, what keeps you going?
I count myself lucky in that I never had to struggle to figure out what I should do with my life.
I had the struggle of how do I do it. I knew as a teenager that I wanted to be on Broadway but there was no Motswana on Broadway, so my challenge was getting to the Broadway.
I wanted to do Hollywood projects. I feel like acting chose me as opposed to the other way round.
Q. From your scripts, I realised you follow role models like Nelson Mandela, The late Sir Seretse Khama and Bill Clinton, Why politicians?
My way of seeing the world is in a way that seeks to understand humanity and its stories, and there is no way of understanding that fully without engaging with politics.
But I do not consider myself a politician though, I consider myself a humanist in that I am not so much interested in highlighting differences as much as I am interested in highlighting a shared humanity.
Q. Any plans of joining politics in future?
Why not, it’s something I find interesting, but is something that takes a lot of sacrifice as well, that I am not sure I am going to make it in my 30’s or 40’s.
But when the time is right…maybe!
Q. More often, you said with confidence that acting is your comfort zone. Why so?
Acting is one thing I do most. I am one of the actors who work day and night on a role.
I made the comment comparing it to my other talents such as singing, song writing and writing fiction, I love all these things but acting is one thing that comes naturally.
Q. What keeps you going?
The appetite to fulfil my truest purpose, I do spiritually connected projects that if I die tomorrow I will be proud of leaving behind as part of my legacy.
Q. We have seen you bringing three productions about Prince Seretse Khama in 2016, please shed some light on these productions.
This year I have three products about Sir Seretse Khama that I am sharing with the world.
My live performances, my book about his life and the film I am in as an actor.
The play is called Blue, Black, and White.
When I started thinking about writing Blue Black and White I was in drama school in London, and I had realised that when I was trained as a classical actor I was being trained with text like Shakespeare text that did not have people with brown skin or Africans, so I wanted to create something that I can see myself in, something that I am very spiritually aligned with.
So I looked at Botswana and South Africa for heroes or people I could I tell stories about and the story of Sir Seretse Khama stood out for me.
He is a figure that I am very spiritually connected to and very tied to my legacy, which would be that I made my nation or the world take notice of this great African man.
That’s what I want my legacy to be.
Q. Please share a bit about the book, what is it exactly about?
I am very proud of the book, it is called ‘We are all blue’, and it’s a collection of two plays.
The first time that Botswana plays have been off Broadway.
I wrote the plays in the past 10 years. The first one is Blue, black and white about Sir Seretse and Lady Ruth Khama and the formation of Botswana as the republic.
The second one is called Motswana Africa dream again, which is about experience of the past 50 years being a republic.
The experience coming from anecdotes and lived experience.
Q. How have been the response from the Khama family regarding the book?
The family has been supportive of all the projects that are about them and are accurate like any other family.
I think what made them respect my work is the amount of work I have done on Seretse over the past 10 years.
They have come to appreciate that mine is not a fly by night thing! It’s not something I am doing haphazardly.
It’s a life dedication to reviving a memory of my hero. They sometimes offer words of gratitude.
Q. Do you work with the family on the projects?
No, I do not work with the family on my projects.
They support projects that are already done.
Q. Since you amassed so much experience abroad, anything to share with local artistes?
The biggest selling point is just being authentic to self.
When creating Arts from genuine place, it resonates and it gives a staying power.
I advise them to remain truthful in the Arts.
Q. You are an official Ambassador for Brand Botswana and the youngest –ever recipient of the Khama Brilliant Spirit Award in 2003, how much have you gone with empowering the youths?
I was given that award at 17 years, specifically because of empowering my fellow youths.
It was given because I single headedly sort support to build shelters for orphans at 15-17 years.
It was for my activism through theatre and popularising children’s rights through my vocation.
By then I got invited to the United Nation’s general assembly specifically for benefiting Botswana youths.
Currently I have founded Folktale Theatre Company, which will look after out of school youths and giving them a creative outlet and professionally training actors.
Q. In 2011, You won both the coveted Best Actor Award and the Best solo award off-Broadway at the United Solo Festival, the world’s largest solo theatre festival and the new York times called described your performance as being ‘inflamed with passion,’ kindly share more about it?
Wow…It was my first major theatre award, I had received awards before, but I had this bid award for using my truest talent of telling a story of Botswana in a way that has never been told.
Q.You once signed a contract for artistic representation with Waka Management, Pan African talent agency, a high profile talent agency that was founded by award- winning South African actress Rosie Motene. How did the contract benefit you?
After spending a decade in foreign arts economies, like on Broadway and Hollywood there was a responsibility that I should perform stories to countries of origin not only taking them away.
I signed with Rosie so that she can manage the Africa aspects of my career and it has benefited me such that the performances are much organised and more appreciated, I have so much following in Kenya and Uganda.
Q. What legacy would you like to leave in the entertainment industry?
As I get older, my sense of legacy becomes more sharpened, but if I can get Botswana to know her story hopefully she will love herself more.
My legacy will be that I made my nation know her story and hopefully she will love herself more.
Q. What do you think of our local Arts?
I think it’s growing definitely.
Artistes are advancing the ways we tell our stories.
Q. You are busy with stage performances; do you have time for social lifetime like dating?
ahhh…hahaha…Onneile…I am in a very happy place in my life.
I am sharing my life with those that I am supposed to.
Q. Any plans for the President Day Holidays?
I will be in Masunga, as one of my upcoming projects will be dealing with Kalanga language.