Thembisa’s mom, Yolisa Mdoda, was a publicist at Transnet and an SABC1 continuity presenter who exposed her daughters to the theatre from a young age. “She was so organised,” Thembisa says.
“When we walked into the house after school there was always fruit and water ready for us. She made sure the house had fresh flowers. She had to take care of four girls, her husband and herself, but she made sure everything was in order.”
Yolisa was her biggest influencer, she adds. “My mother shaped my values. She taught me to have manners and how to be a lady. She gave me my nurturing skills and taught me to love your family first and to take care of the ones close to you.”
Thembisa was devastated when she lost her mom to pancreatic cancer a few years ago, but she honours Yolisa by living the values she taught her.
“Everything she taught me rings a bell in my day-to-day life. I often say I’m turning into my mother – the things I do and say, my walk and my work ethic remind me of her.”
Even the meals Thembisa cooks is a throwback to her mom. “She used to make a delicious rice and tuna dish,” she recalls. “Those are the types of meals I make today. I’ve also recently learnt to cook vegan meals, inspired by my partner. Even my kids have started turning down meat dishes!”