Moitheri ‘Terry’ Pheto is a bona fide super star. The South African actress describes herself as a “story teller, a daughter, sister, a friend and a big dreamer” and “an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams and ideas.” Those dreams and ideas have taken her to the Kodak theatre, earned her a contract with one of the world’s leading cosmetics brands and roles in feature films locally and internationally. Ms Moitheri ‘Terry Pheto’ is truly a leading lady. She grew up in a large family with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles. She believes that her humble upbringing prepared her for where she is now. She is aware that the position she occupies is one that many young women aspire to be in. “I appreciate life and all my blessings. I respect everyone and I never take anything for granted.”
Her acting career seems predetermined. When she was younger her grandmother used to tell her and her family stories at night. Once her grandmother was finished Terry would continue the story telling to the other kids. “I’d let my imagination run wild and see myself in these stories. I knew then that’s what i want to do for the rest of my life tell stories.” The young storyteller from the Vaal has become that and more. She features in television dramas on the public broadcaster’s channel, movies on the big screen and billboards on the urban landscape.
The entertainment industry often comes with warnings of the fickle nature of the industry as well as stories of success followed by obscurity. Terry seems to have worked consistently over the years on television, print and film. When asked how she managed to do this she states that she made a decision to work in all mediums even though film is her first love. From the Oscar award winning Tostsi to ‘Catch a Fire’ Terry seems destined to work with more international directors and garner recognition in the North American market. She conducts herself in a manner that suggests that she has been working with heavyweights throughout her career. She has struck up a close bond with internationally acclaimed director Phillip Noyce after working with him. He is now a cherished friend and mentor to her, they speak once a week. She has only kind words for him saying “Phillip is an actor’s directors, he cares about the actors as much as he cares about the picture; even though he has worked with the biggest names in Hollywood he still treats everyone with so much respect. He is an A-list Hollywood director but his humility is so refreshing.” She could be describing herself. She has a quiet sensuality, and the world at her feet yet she remains girl next door lovely. At our shoot at the Grace Hotel in Rosebank, she was accommodating despite her heavy time commitments. She introduced herself to the staff and thanked everyone involved with the shoot afterwards. When asked about the pitfalls of fame, she says although there are negatives, she refuses to dwell on them.
When asked what the best place she has been Terry is emphatic in her response: Los Angeles. She loves the history of the first South African movie,Tsotsi, winning an Oscar there, as well as watching people waiting to be discovered. It’s “one place where anything can happen and your life can change overnight. A true haven for a storyteller.”
Recently Terry took part in another first; launching a L’Oreal brand that is made for dark skins. Her ambassadorial duties include doing photo shoots, television commercials, and promoting the brand. Terry joins women such as Kerry Washington, Jane Fonda in being part of the L’oreal Dream Team. With all this traveling and work, w hat does a movie star and brand ambassador do during their down time? “I watch movies and spend all day in bed. I love hotel sheets so every now and then i treat myself to a weekend away, dvds, room service and spa. Or I go home in the Vaal and visit my family and have home cooked Sunday lunch.” She says she shops everywhere she sees a sale sign. Living close to Hyde Park shopping centre means that she spends a lot of her time there. She also loves flea markets. Asked to tell us about where she eats, parties and hangs out one gets a sense of someone who loves glamour, and the finer things in life; Parkhurst, Tasha’s for salads and cocktails. Wolves in Illovo for coffee and cake, pronto in Craighall park for pasta. She doesn’t party much but when she does ZAR at the Raddisson Blu in Sandton is a good bet for her and her girlfriends to have a big night out.
Her lifestyle seems balanced by her quiet ambition and her unforced humble attitude. She seems like a young woman who is balances her humble beginnings and current position. She grateful and excited about her life and hopes she can use her influence to inspire young women who think its not possible to live your dreams. After all she is living hers. From the Vaal to Hollywood and Johannesburg Terry believes “that you are what you think and believe.”
Thank you to African Sun’s The Grace Hotel for hosting the Jucy Africa team and Terry at our shoot.
The Grace Hotel is a 5 star Boutique in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. For enquires contact them on +27 011 280 7200 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org