'Makeba' charms 'Mandela'

A KWAZAKHELE-born jazz artist who stars in the movie Long Walk to Freedom could not believe it when internationally acclaimed actor Idris Elba complimented her on a song she had performed on the set.

Nomfusi Gotyana plays the role of Miriam Makeba in the movie, which is already making waves after it received an eight-minute standing ovation in Toronto when its trailer premiered.

The movie, which features Elba as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela and Terry Pheto as Evelyn (Mandela's first wife), is a chronicle of Nelson Mandela's life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

Gotyana, 27, said she met Elba in one of the make-up rooms on the set.

"It was a very stressful day because of our workload. It was my first time shooting a movie and I was scared. I saw him [Elba] and I greeted him in passing. He stopped and complimented me on one of the songs I performed earlier. At the time, I did not know who he was but I was well aware that he was the lead actor.

"It was only when my manager, Philip de Villiers, told me about him that I got butterflies in my stomach.

"For him to remember me after my scenes was a real honour," she said.

The talented Gotyana did not have to audition for the role of Makeba. One of the directors saw a clip on YouTube where she was performing one of Makeba's songs.

"They liked what they saw and offered me the role of the young Miriam Makeba.

"It was very exciting to be featured in Nelson Mandela's movie. I enjoyed playing Makeba because she was very upfront in South African politics.

"People will love this movie. It is very emotional and touching. I only saw a clip from my manager's laptop and I understand why one of the trailers got a standing ovation in Toronto," she said.

The movie will play at cinemas in November.