Multi-hyphenate Candice Modiselle sets her sights beyond acting as the spotlight on her burns ever brighter.
“Sorry! Sorry, Candice? Candice!” She turns to look back at the person calling her name in the crowded entrance of Rosebank Mall. It is no one she knows: A young fan clutching her friend’s arm with one hand and her cell phone with the other beams at actress Candice Modiselle.
“My friend wants to take a picture with you. Do you mind?”
She obliges and immediately welcomes the shy fan into her embrace, turning to face the cell phone camera. The young fans, satisfied with their run-in with a local celebrity, soon leave, wishing Modiselle a happy day.
She is already having one. Modiselle takes the interruption by the excitable fans in her stride as she makes her way to a café inside the mall to tuck into a hearty English breakfast. Luckily for her, few people’s heads turn towards her. This is her not-so-new normal – contained commotion.
It is only 9:30am and Modiselle has already finished one of her many jobs for the day: hosting the Monate Breakfast radio show on Saturday mornings with radio veteran DJ Fingers on online radio station Massiv Metro.
DJ Fingers has enjoyed co-hosting Monate Breakfast with Modiselle for the past two years and gushes about her knowledge of current and retro music.
“Our show is all about infotainment and she is very knowledgeable on the topics we discuss on the show.
“Candice’s hunger sets her apart from other young people in the industry. She is very professional, eager and adapts easily to new environments,” Fingers says.
Modiselle jokes about where she finds the motivation to be up in time to host the show, which begins at six o’clock in the morning: “What gets me up so early in the mornings is the money!”
She is as busy as ever. After graduating from Wits University with an honours degree in drama in 2017, she works as an MC, television presenter and lecturer on television presenting. In addition to the radio show, she has just begun pulling double duty, playing precocious teenager Lerato on the perennially popular soapie Generations: The Legacy and Naledi on Mzansi Magic’s newest drama, Impilo: The Scam.
Modiselle’s appearance in the Mzansi Magic series, a Tribe Called Story production, is a contravention of Generations creator Mfundi Vundla’s longstanding rule that Generations actors are not to appear in other series while they are working on his show.
Has there been any pushback from Vundla? “We thank God for agents. We have people who look at contracts and negotiate for us.
“I am a freelance actress in an industry that is unpredictable. We can only survive on multiple streams of income. And I need to grow. There’s such a vast difference between the two shows – filming on location versus in a studio (where Generations is filmed), and between a series and a soap. And I needed that difference to stretch my muscles. I fell so deeply into the robotics of being a soapie actress, I forgot what a strong performer I was,” she says, sounding as though she has had to justify her decision to appear on both shows many times before.
Modiselle’s role on Impilo is her second turn as a teenager who strives to survive as the child of a struggling single mother.
Being raised by a single mother is certainly something Modiselle can relate to. Raised by her mother alone after the death of her father in 1997 when she was just three years old, Modiselle grew up in Rosebank, Johannesburg, in a household of women. She is the youngest of three children, all girls who have grown up to carve out spaces for themselves in the entertainment industry.
Model Refiloe and musician Bontle made a name for themselves in the industry before Modiselle booked her first on-air job as a presenter on SABC 1’s YO! TV. This has led to questions on whether she chose to become an actress only because of her sisters. Modiselle says this could not be further from the truth.
“I remember watching Woza Albert at the Market Theatre and I just cried. I sat there and I just knew this is what I want to do. I couldn’t compromise on the love I have for what I do. Both my sisters started out in completely different directions. They didn’t start out in entertainment, but I was relentless because I knew I had to be great,” she recalls.
“[My mother] saw me come alive on the stage. She tried to influence my decision to study drama, but she was right to let me do what I want. But there was a tug of war,” she admits.
Her mother’s hesitance was understandable to Modiselle, though. She inserts the refrain “This industry is so unpredictable” into almost every topic, and it’s something her mother has echoed.
“Think of a young black girl at 16 who ran a company. That girl goes on to get five distinctions in matric and then liquidates that company to go after her dreams,” she prompts. Modiselle believes she could have studied to become a professional in a more traditional field. Her children, however, will not follow her path, she says.
“I’m having neuroscientists!” she says with a laugh. She’s only joking. Modiselle is all too familiar with young people who “feel stifled because their parents won’t let them follow their dreams”.
It’s this awareness of the struggle young creatives endure that has encouraged her to explore the less travelled avenue of business and commerce. Modiselle frequently emcees at corporate events and her growing familiarity with the field has sparked a new passion in her.
“The more I grow, the more I grow away from the arts,” she says; her ever dramatic gestures contrast sharply with her words. She speaks as much with her hands as she does her mouth.
“I want to make a name for myself in business and bring those resources and networks back to the arts. I want to understand the economy and then rebuild the arts from the ground up.
“I see my path moving from actress to presenter to speaker. It’s a constant negotiation of who I am in this world and who I want to be. But I know now which one to choose. It’s not even a question,” she says.
FEATURED IMAGE: Actress Candice Modiselle hosts Monate Breakfast on Massiv Media. Photo: Sanele Msiza
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