“It was 2020 and I had just returned from performing in Switzerland when the country went into a hard lockdown which implied, I couldn’t carry on performing” remembers Kgomotso “Momo” Matsunyane.
All salons had closed business and she could not get a haircut. The pandemic allowed South Africans to explore and work magic in their own personal space and Momo started experimenting with some hair products she had at home.
This was also another attempt for her to occupy herself away from the thrill of performing. “I relished that my hair was growing and that’s when I started taking my home-made hair product seriously” says Momo.
Friends and family that tried the product for African coil and straight hair only had positive feedback for her. “I was onto something that could actually grow hair and most excitingly it can be a passive income”, Momo thought to herself. It did take a while for Kgomotso to get the recipe right but needless to say MoMo Juice was born. “It’s called MoMo Juice because it quenches thirsty hair” says Kgomotso.
Momo Matsunyane is a production company established by the performer in 2019. The zealous Matsunyane discovered she could act in pre-school when she was only 6 years of age.
She holds an Honors Degree in Dramatic Arts from Wits University and graduated in 2012 however she became a professional actor in 2004. Momo has performed on numerous plays, films and television shows and subsequently nominated and went to win several awards like Best Actress in a leading role in a theatre performance called: Have You Seen Zandile in the Naledi theatre awards.
“It obviously hasn’t been easy and I have had to diversify over the years in order to make ends meet. “I look forward to my future and can’t wait to perform overseas and to voice some great animated characters alongside some veterans I have always admired” says Kgomotso eagerly.
Matsunyane finds it interesting how the universe always aligns her with a production that teaches her valuable lessons that she needs to learn at that moment. “Performing in Have You Seen Zandile was extra special because of Zandile’s relationship with her grandmother. “I could relate to it in so many ways and I’m happy my granny got to see it” giggles Momo.
Kgomotso was raised by her paternal grandmother in Spruitview. “My granny offered to raise me because my mother was the only breadwinner from a large family” she says.
Momo’s father was still a young upcoming actor trying to make ends meet. “Overall, I had a fairly great childhood even though my granny was extremely strict”. Her granny taught her how to sing, sow, cook and to execute tasks to perfection. “She didn’t have much money but she gave me a lot of exceptional life experiences which made my childhood that much more colorful” smiles Kgomotso.
The pandemic has made it difficult for Momo to make acting sustainable however while she awaits her next opportunity, she teaches first year students at The Market Theater Laboratory. “I’m also getting ready to publish two of my plays called Unlearn and Penny whilst trying to finish writing my newest play called Ka Lebitso La Moya” expresses Momo.
Matsunyane has given back to her community by working with children from Jabavu and helped them create a short theater show which they got to perform in front of their families and friends at Uncle Toms Hall.
“I am also currently part of a new NPO called Lushaka Community Development which aims to offer drama and sport workshops to various underprivileged communities” adds Momo.
Asked to share some word of encouragement, Momo jokingly says: “I think I could use some words of encouragements in these trying times”, but she than profoundly says “It’s important to never forget your dreams. Survival can make one forget what they really want so it’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in you”.
Follow Momo on social media: @momojuice_e or @momomatsunyane
By Sandra Lesenyeho