JOHANNESBURG — Although actress Motsoaledi Setumo is cementing her place in the entertainment industry with her talent and self-confidence‚ she did not always believe in herself.
Motsoaledi revealed that she was bullied in school which made her teenage years difficult to endure.
“In addition to everything that was going on‚ high school wasn’t a breeze. You know how kids are growing up‚ kids are so mean and I had acne so they called me Lunch Bar face. It was just a mess‚ I had acne and I was so skinny and that wasn’t an ideal combo,” she said.
Motsoaledi‚ who recently made her debut on The Queen said that she always knew she was beautiful‚ but did not realise that the bullying caused her to focus on the acne instead of her beauty.
“They could tell that I was beautiful‚ it’s just that I had acne so they made me focus on my acne instead of my beauty and my features. So for every compliment I would receive‚ people would find a way to sneak in a snide remark like‚ ‘yeah she is pretty but she has acne or yeah she is pretty but she is skinny,” she said.
“I guess I just woke up one day and I was like‚ ‘no actually‚ I won’t allow this to happen.’ When you are bullied or pressurised growing up‚ you develop a thick skin. You become this rude and sometimes rebellious person. Not because you are actually rude‚ but because you are trying to block out all the negativity aimed at you.”
Motsoaledi said she realised she was targeted because she was seen as a “threat” by people who realised much earlier that she had potential to be great.
Two big productions later‚ the actress said she’s grateful for all the self-love lessons‚ which also came in handy when she had her first break in the industry.
She remembered how she breezed through what could have been a tough time when she got backlash for her Generations: The Legacy character‚ Thabi.
The character landed in hot water after viewers of the popular soapie complained that her semi-nude scenes were inappropriate for prime time TV.
“By that time I was like‚ ‘I know what I have‚ I love it and I am going to flaunt it’. The thing is growing up made me realise that I’m actually very beautiful and that is why I am unapologetic about how I look now.”