She won viewers over with her debut role as Zakithi in IsiBaya and now she has a role in Mzansi Magic’s The Queen. We chat to the extremely talented Michelle Mosalakae about her rapid rise to fame.

The fresh-faced beauty arrives at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria decked out in a black tracksuit with her mother, Sarah, who is also her manager. ‘Watch out Kris Jenner,' Michelle jokes, referring to the famous ‘momager' and star of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Sarah says her daughter has never been ordinary, adding that when she was pregnant she already knew that the child she was carrying was going to be special. Even as a toddler, Michelle would command attention when she walked into a room. ‘She has always been a confident child,' says Sarah. ‘She loved attention from an early age.’ ‘I had this fire burning inside from a very early age,' Michelle confirms. ‘I wanted to entertain and to be part of the storytelling process.'

Sarah says when she gave birth to Michelle, she offered a prayer to God, saying, ‘I am giving her to You. She is Yours, please raise her through me.'

‘I think it was the best thing she did for me,' smiles Michelle. ‘My spirituality leads me. I put God first in everything I do, and this helped me be happy with who I am.'

Born and bred in Pretoria, Michelle was raised to love the skin she is in. She lives with albinism, a genetic condition that results in a lack of the pigment melanin. Her parents instilled in her the importance of self-love and, most importantly, taught her that albinism should not deter her from following her dreams. She is aware, however, of the stereotypes; she understands the challenges and the cruelty that stem from certain societal beliefs regarding albinism. In some communities, it is believed that people living with albinism have body parts that bestow magical powers to make them rich. Michelle says these beliefs are incorrect and uninformed, and essentially dehumanise people living with albinism just because they lack melanin. ‘Albinism can be found in any race,' she says. ‘Anyone can have it. We are all people at the end of the day and should respect one another regardless of what we look like.'

Michelle has been fortunate enough to have been surrounded by a supportive family, community, and friends. ‘My parents were very strategic in their choice of school for me,' she says. ‘The school has strong values and the teachers are in tune with the world. It was probably one of the best times of my life.' She adds that her school friends were a diverse group, so being different was the norm.

‘I grew up knowing I lived with albinism,' she says. ‘I was not ashamed of it because I know that I am beautiful inside and out. I was never made to feel that I was out of place, just different, but not in a negative way. In fact, I enjoyed being different because I always wanted to be! My albinism is a facet of who I am. There are so many other things that define me as a woman and as a human being. I am who I am today because of my albinism and in spite of it.’

Michelle credits her success to her family's staunch support. She believes the seeds her parents planted have made her a force to be reckoned with. She is now part of the Revlon ‘Live Boldly' campaign, which aims to celebrate diversity and encourage women from all walks of life to live proudly and confidently.

‘I could not believe it!’ she says, recalling the day in March last year when she received a call from the global cosmetics brand. ‘It is an absolute blessing and a dream come true.' A few months later in September, she also bagged a role on the popular Mzansi Magic soapie The Queen – making 2018 a dream year indeed.

Behind the scenes with Michelle at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria.

Michelle was bitten by the acting bug in 2007 when she was in grade 7 and performed in a school musical. ‘I remember feeling at home on stage,' she smiles as she recalls stepping onto the stage for the first time. ‘I've never felt such peace and happiness.' She says she knew she would not experience that feeling anywhere else.

A firm believer in the power of prayer and ‘speaking things into existence', Michelle took drama in high school and the rest is history. After matriculating in 2012, she studied drama at Rhodes University. She also studied law but had to drop it after her third year in order to put all her energy into her honours degree in drama.

‘I enjoyed the fact that I was different because I always wanted to be’

‘I liked law, but I was not passionate about it,’ she says. ‘It was a tough decision to make, but ultimately I chose what I was passionate about.’

Upon graduating in 2016, she made her way back to her hometown to pursue a career in acting. After three months of back-to-back auditions, she secured her first role, as the incredibly selfless Zakithi on Mzansi Magic's IsiBaya. Within a year she had also landed the role of Kamina on the channel's popular telenovela, The Queen. She says it’s her most challenging role to date and it was a welcome challenge indeed!

The multitalented actress plans to do more work behind the scenes. ‘I'm an avid writer and have been speaking to directors and producers about new projects,' she says. She is also working on a film, but can't reveal much as yet. While she keeps her future plans under wraps, we will keep watching this space…

· She speaks five languages, including Spanish and French.
· She is an academic who enjoys doing research.
· She initially planned to be a doctor, but gave up that dream when she realised she was squeamish!
· She had just started her master's degree when she received the call to join IsiBaya.

· I enjoy sushi.
· I can watch the movie, Inglourious Basterds, any day.
· Madrid is my favourite holiday destination.
· You will never find me without my lip balm, sunscreen, moisturising spray, and Revlon lipstick.
· I love sneakers and fast cars!

Keep up with Michelle on Social Media
Instagram: @mosalakaem
Twitter: @MosalakaeM

By Koketso Mashika

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