We had the good fortune of connecting with Makha Mthembu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Makha, how do you define success?
Ooh! What a question. Right now, having a roof over my head and waking up knowing there is food, feels HUGE, because the whole year has not been that way. When I tell people I’m an actor, their response is always the same, “Have I seen you in something?” As though that is success. To an actor, paying your bills doing nothing but acting is Success. To me this year, being healthy, and having a home is my greatest dream come true.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Long story short, I’m a Classically trained Blacktor – Hence “SIP & TELL. the Highlights from Shakespeare.” Short story long, I’m from post Apartheid South Africa, but lived in North Carolina as a toddler, and have been in the US consistently since 2007. My life has caused me to be an other…a lot! Whether that be in my own country, where the government said all I was intellectually capable of was being a maid. Or my chosen host country, where people dissent wearing masks louder than they dissent against people with my complexion being gunned down by law enforcement, I tend to not societally belong. SO that’s what my art is about. I love to make work that sparks empathy as well as conversation, and often through humor! Primarily because we all know for a fact that in this gigantic Universe, there is only one planet with humans. We covet our relational family, not understanding that every human born onto the planet is just as precious and as rare. “Sip & Tell” is a web series I made inspired by my training and experience as an actor with a Masters in Classical Acting, i.e Shakespeare, i.e works that inherently exclude me. On the surface, I amusingly summarize and distill a Shakespeare plot. But beneath the surface, beneath my brown surface, is an experience people without that surface don’t always realize is going on. But if these stories are for everyone, and are about everyone, we should all know how they affect EVERYONE. But again, always through humour.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ok, this is obviously a future trip, because my friends and I are way too responsible to be galivanting around Los Angeles right now. So here we go Future Trip! First- Breakfast/ponchiks at Papillon Bakery. They’re about $1.25 a piece, and they’re delicious doughy fried goodness with your choice of filling: Nutella, Oreo, Oreo AND Nutella, Ferrero Rocher or raspberry. Naturally we have to get at least one of each. The Getty is a day. We’ll take the Sepulveda bus to the Getty, cause the greatest charge is parking, and it’ll be free to me as a LA resident. We don’t have free museums in South Africa, because even on a free day, the museum tends to be in a kind of hard to get to area, so The Getty, is my personal Good Place. It’s so gorgeous, the architecture tour is so fun and the rose garden is a place I could sit and journal in for hours. And I haven’t even mentioned the inside yet! An improv show somewhere might be on the docket, or some theatre. Los Angeles is one of the biggest theatre cities in the US, and there’s a really big clowning scene here – but people, even people that live here, don’t know that. Let’s go see something weird. Finally, I take everyone who visits me to the Museum of Jurassic Technology. This just takes a few hours, because the word museum is misleading. Hodge podge would be more apt. And then a visit to the beach to try and wash off whatever that experience was. And finally some Bao’s at a place near me in the valley – 0.75 cents a piece. We must get at least 10! That or happy hour at the Tipsy Cow, my favourite Happy Hour spot in Sherman Oaks.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
One of my greatest friends and artistic allies is Miche Altman. They’re an awesome smart, inclusive director originally from LA, but based out of Chicago. And where other people respond to one of my ideas with, “Ooh, here’s why that won’t work.” Miche almost always responds with: What can I do to help?! Sometimes, that’s all the help I need, knowing I’m not alone. And sometimes, the help is them flying themselves down to direct my Fringe Show, “No Child Left Behind” in person. This shoutout is most definitely dedicated to Them.
Jack Wallace and IronPrint Artists “Sip & Tell” Design by Veronica Callozzo “Measure for Measure” picture by Jim Cox Costume by Shelly Williams