Pearl Thusi on her performance in the award-winning film “Kalushi’


SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: Screen Africa caught up with Pearl
Thusi after the Rapid Lion Awards ceremony on 16 March where the film Kalushi – which stars Thusi – was up for a number of awards.

Kalushi tells the story of Solomon Mhlangu, a freedom fighter who, after being falsely accused of murder and terrorism in 1977, was executed under the apartheid regime. The film is a historical biopic that captures Mhlangu’s legacy. Starring Thusi as Mhlangu’s girlfriend, this award-winning film reflects on the strength of our nation. Here Thusi speaks of her part in that legacy:

How does it feel that Kalushi won best film at the Rapid
Lion Awards?

For all of us, as a team, this is a huge achievement. And it’s only a sign for things
to come for the film and all of our individual careers. We’ve set the bar really high
and it feels so good that our hard work is being recognised. The biggest
achievement, however, will be if the movie is enjoyed by those we worked
tirelessly to make it for. The people of South Africa and Africa at large.

Your role as Solomon’s girlfriend, Brenda, was nominated for best
actress, at the same awards, how did that feel?

I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s a huge honour and it’s the first time I’m being nominated
for a lead actress role – I’ve been nominated for best supporting actress at the
SAFTA’s for a drama series and for other fashion and presenter related awards. This
is really special.

What inspired you to take on this role?
The director, Mandla Dube, is so passionate and he sold it to me from the get go.
He is such an inspiration. Also, to be a part of such an important story was not
something I would let pass by.

How did you prepare for the role?
A lot of reading and rehearsals. It was hard not to be desensitised though. We’ve
seen so much of all the trauma and stories about those times but psychologically it
was heavy to carry that story and I’m so blessed to have been given the opportunity and strength to do it.

What aspect of making this film did you enjoy the most?
The team work. It’s so awesome to work with people who are all equally invested in
making something successful. The challenges created a lot of opportunities for me
to grow. I love a good challenge with a great vision.

What was the greatest challenge while making this film?
Brenda is not a real character. All the other characters are real. So I had to create
her myself with the director. Which was fun because it’s less pressure to live up to
a real human being. But I didn’t have someone to emulate in a story where
everyone else had an idea of the story of their characters.

This film took nine years to make, for how many of those years were
you involved?

Three years.

Any acknowledgments of your cast and crew? They spoke very highly of
you last night, what will you remember from what was said?

Everything. Last night was ethereal. Obviously Thabo’s performance is impeccable.
Our director was very invested not only in creating the characters but also us as
actors, which was awesome. Jafta and Thabo M were also fantastic. Our DOP was
also amazing, often the calm in the storm.

What mark do you think this movie will continue to leave? What mark
did it leave on you?

It’s going to educate many people who didn’t know about Solomon Mahlangu and the South African plight for freedom and the huge role that the rest of Africa played in making sure we succeeded. For many they will see that there was no age limit to
the amount of sacrifice and pain the struggle brought and caused. The producers
were phenomenal. There are also many light-hearted moments in the film. It’s a full
body of work. It’s beautiful.

Any characters you would like to play in the future, and any
movies in the pipeline?

I’m up for any powerful story and characters. It’s all up to the man above where I
end up. I’m so excited for the future.


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