By: Onawanda Mpanza
Under 30, Co-Owner and Managing Director of Award winning motion picture business OM Films. Nelisiwe Mwase, graduated with a BA Degree in Motion Picture from the prestigious AFDA (Johannesburg).
A mother of two awesome children, Relo, 3 and Ree, 5 and wife to Ofentse Mwase who also is Co-owner and Cinematographer of OM films.
Ever since her graduation, Mwase has never looked back, having written well conceptualised music videos for artists such as; Before by Sjava, Ameni by DJ Miss Pru and Areece ft Flame- Feelings. I could literally write a page of artists she has worked with and written world class videos for. In March 2017, she ventured into hilariously funny skits with the likes of Fash Ngobese, Ta-fire, Lasizwe and many others. One of the skits rocked the nation and managed to gain as many as 2 million views on You Tube and other social media platforms.
Not only are they humorous but they are also very relevant and well thought out, no compromise on quality whatsoever.
We have also seen Nelisiwe grace our screens on DSTV ads, proving she is multi-talented and willing to work hard. Juggling the family business, personal brand yet still being an involved mother to her children. Join us as we find out a little bit more on Nelisiwe and how she does it all.
How do you do it, with two children aged 3 and 5? Give us a brief summary of your mornings till bed time? My mornings typically begin at 05:45 and my day typically ends at 23:00, latest. I have my quiet time between 7am and 8am, during weekdays. From then onwards, my day can get busy between business, writing, home economics, social media engagement and meetings with clients and sometimes, with prospective content creation collaborators. I cannot do this all without my helper – Princess and of course, my immediate family. The only thing I don’t do in my household is daily cleaning and the washing of clothes. When I occasionally need a babysitter, I turn to family first before I turn to Princess. She also needs and deserves her rest. I always aim to finish all my major daily goals by 4pm, before the kids get back from daycare. I value spending quality time with my whole family, above all things.
For late night shoots and editing, how do you balance it out since both you and your husband are in the same business and field? I prefer late night shoots because my children would be sleeping for most of the night anyway. I don’t feel like I’ve lost quality time with my babies. My babysitter would stay in for that night. Even when we knock off at 4am, I still get up at 05:45 and see to the children being prepared for school by my helper – on that particular morning. She knows how I prefer to have them dressed as well as the type of balanced lunch boxes to pack and she respects that. It is such a privilege to have someone like that in my life. See, I need a collaboration even in my own home!
Has there ever been an incident where a school event clashed with work? If yes, how did you handle it? Yes, it has happened before on a few OM Films productions. This mostly happens if our children are unwell at school. School events – we book that time off from our work calendar. Sometimes, one parent can make it to a school event and that’s also okay. When a complete clash does happen, Ofentse and I quickly realize one thing – Our children are our number one priority in this life. For this reason, we pride ourselves on teamwork and I also have assistants on set. Should it be imperative that I have to leave and attend to my children, I will simply handover some of my responsibilities to my team mates. I have the best team, they are ever so helpful to everyone who needs it.
The Entertainment space, more especially “behind the scenes” is a male dominated area which may conflict with your motherly responsibilities. Have you ever been within a space which forced you to choose between family and work and your mommy instincts got into over drive? People who have worked with me before, affectionately call me “Mama Nells”. I didn’t like it at first, because I’m too young for the revered title of “Mama” given to me by my peers. I like it so much now, because it’s truly a compliment. My motherly instincts hardly ever switch off. I am quite a nurturing person in character, so I make it my business to know that every member on my ship is absolutely okay. Our industry may be male dominated, but I’ve decided that I will never let that change me. I wondered, what if the industry is in need of someone like me? You never really know until you try and just be yourself. This is one of the reasons why I started my own business. I struggled in a normal 9-5 position. I needed a job that suits my life’s circumstances. I needed to be effective at work and at home, because I value both so much. I needed to set an example for my daughter and there was no better way that I could imagine, but to do the work and show her later.
You are under 30 but have achieved and done so much. What advice would you offer to a young mother trying to put her life together yet still live out her purposes? I became a mother at the tender age of 22. There are advantages and disadvantages to that – obviously. You see your friends live life wildly and freely during their 20s, while you are forced to GROW UP! And quickly!!! I decided to have this child, not for anyone else; but myself. That’s the first step with all things in life regarding your future – realizing that you need to take these walks of life for yourself, before anyone else. This decision drives and leads you to purpose.
Finding and following your purpose will require you to have some serious guts – yes, one strong backbone! Purpose will call you to ignore your inner deepest fear of possible failure and disappointments. Purpose will call you try, try and try again – until you find the winning formula that leads you to your breakthrough. You will cry. You will laugh. You will pray. You will be disappointed. You will fall. You will rise again. And you will definitely be happy. Purpose births happiness, and that’s the greatest gift you can give to your children.
The first step may be a small one, but ironically – it’s always our hardest or the bravest thing that we have ever done for ourselves. That’s courage speaking in you.
You are kind, warm, hilarious and very wise. How do you impart those traits to your children? Awww thank you. Children mirror our hearts. If the parents are good to one another, the children will be good to others. This is a quality that you cannot fake in front of children. They feel it, they receive it from you and they give it to the rest of the world. Our duty as parents is to continually work at healing our own hearts, so that we can raise up children with the hope that they will become better humans than the ones that we ever were.
What keeps you grounded and focused towards the end goal? Love – Love everyone and be present in every moment and space in your current life. You will appreciate all your better days better.
• Family – Be it your biological family or one you chose on your own, family gives you someone in this life, worth fighting for.
• Legacy – Leave a good inheritance for your children. After you are gone, it stands as a testament to the fact that you thought of them. That much.
Which wisdom nuggets did you take from your moms child rearing skills that benefit you now in raising your children? My mother taught me one major lesson through the course of her life: Be selfless. Being selfless means that you don’t always get to do what you want to do, but you always do what is necessary in order to gain the goal that benefits your whole family. I took that from my mom, emotionally and spiritually. I do whatever it takes to make sure that our children grow up in a good home, with a varied diet and most importantly, I make sure that they have a voice. I want to know what they are thinking, no matter how uncomfortable the conversations may be.
How would your kids describe you? Affectionate. Conversational. Loving. Kind. Strict.
How does your husband/ extended family describe you as a mom? Selfless. Loving. Kind. Very honest.
What do you enjoy the most about being a mother, things that melt your heart? Laughter. Nothing melts my heart more than a house full of laughter. That means there are less worries, there’s less conflict, and there’s a whole lot of unity in the home.
Most people say, “being a parent,motivates them to do more”, do you also share the same sentiments? Yes. Being a loving parent will continue to fuel you when all else around you fails.
You also have an interest in motivational speaking and guiding people. Which areas garner your interest and why? Marriage – Getting married is not an achievement – because that’s’ easy… but staying happily married is. Why the fuss? Because there’s nothing easy about staying happily married. It worth it, as long as you both try. There’s no perfect “how to” manual and this gives us the opportunity to explore the many different ways of how we can try and find the happiness in marriage every day.
Purpose – You cannot exist in this world just as a statistic. You have to find out why you are here and how you will get up and act upon purpose to fulfil your destiny.
In closing, are you open to your children choosing similar career paths that you and Ofentse are involved in? We would not allow them settle on this particular career without exploring other types of careers first, either by research or internships. They have to find their own passions and find a way to make money out of that. If they choose a path similar to ours, then so be it. I just hope we will have become great industry icons to look up to, by then.