“I’m better now. I’ve been getting jobs and I have my own house,” said Vinolia Mashego (56), who now understands what it’s like to bounce back, after battling to find work for 13 years, slipping into a spiralling depression as a result.
There were reports that she went through a difficult patch in her life as she reportedly couldn’t afford to pay her rent, assaulted someone, and not forgetting the time she was fired for allegedly parading naked in a block of flats in Pretoria?
However, she has placed the dark days behind her and things seem to be shaping up for her. “I’m better now. I’ve been getting jobs and I have my own house,” she said.
Known as V-Mash from her days as a popular presenter for SABC’s hit music show Jam Alley, the veteran entertainer is back on the small screen and winning new fans for her role in Giyani: Land of Blood. She plays Kwinana, a dejected divorcée who must pick up the pieces of a broken life after her wealthy husband leaves her for their domestic worker.
It is a storyline that brings issues close to home. “Kwinana’s husband chased her out and she’s left with only her clothes. I’ve been there with my ex-fiancé, who also abused me,” she said. She fell into depression and was hospitalised after that relationship, but Vinolia is forward looking and doesn’t want to dwell on the past.
She put much emphasis on her passion. “I started in the industry as a musician but acting has always been my first love,” said the actress, who also starred in Generations, is happy to be working on the SABC2 drama series.
Initially, she auditioned for Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s role, but it turned out that she and Kwinana have a lot in common.
“I think we were 30 people who auditioned for Gladys but Yvonne was more suited because she is a legend, a philanthropist and married to someone who is Tsonga. She’s good for the role,” she said; “I like Kwinana because she’s a mother and she comes from a humble background.”
According to DRUM, Vinolia was accompanied by her son, Oratile, unlike his bubbly mom, the 20- year- old was rather reserved at first but soon started to open up, proving the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
“I love my mother, she is like a friend to me,” Oratile said.
He explained that growing up he had a torrid time dealing with his mother's fame.
“I’m really affected by the negative stories, especially when there were reports my mom was homeless and stealing from people. I feel like people aren’t giving her the recognition she deserved – she contributed a lot to this country,” he added.
Vinolia was so listening to her only child, her miracle baby, who came after a series of heart-breaking miscarriages, she named him Oratile, which, loosely translated, means God’s will.
“I remember I used to hide my big belly when I was on Jam Alley because it was a show for children,” she recalled.
When he was born, her parents took responsibility for raising the little boy. “My mom was in the labour ward when I had him and since that day he’s been my mother’s child. She spoils him but he knows I don’t take nonsense from no one, not even him,” she said.
The two are so close.
“I know I can talk to her about anything and everything. She tries to be on my level and understand where I come from.
“I fight with him and can go for weeks without talking to him until he apologises. I will buy him data to apologise if I was in the wrong, but he knows there’s a line he shouldn’t cross.
“This world is cruel. I made sure he can cook and bake so he doesn’t expect anyone to do things for him. When I’m dead, I will rest in peace knowing he’s not a burden to anyone,” she went on.
Oratile, as a young boy, didn’t know his mother was a public figure, until the age of 12. “I remember how he hated going out with me. He would complain that when we are out people would be all over me,” she said.
Vinolia said she didn’t reveal it early in order to protect him.
“I wanted him to know that in life one has to work hard to succeed,” she explained.
Like mother like son, Oratile wants to follow in his mother’s trails and make his own mark in the entertainment sector.
“I want to venture into music and do it for my mom. Those who’ve closed doors on her will remember who Vinolia is because I’m coming for everything,” he said.
It runs in his veins, Vinolia said Oratile began singing and dancing to the late Brenda Fassie’s songs when he was three years old.
“He would sing in the bathroom and I would shout at him to stop making noise.
“When he was in primary school he asked me to write a letter to pastors. He wanted them to send it to God to bring back Brenda Fassie because life is boring without her,” she recalled, laughing.
This year he took part in the popular talent show Idols SA, but was forced to pull out.
“My grandfather didn’t think I was ready for it. I’d gone through all the rounds, but just before the TV selection he told me to stop and focus on my studies,” he said.
At the moment he’s furthering his matric subjects so that he qualify to study music next year, a decision Vinolia supports.
“He is a very level-headed child. I want him to be accountable. He needs to focus on his studies. He will study music next year,” she said.