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Lesedi Matsunyane-Ferguson: Born to be a star

The acting bug bit Matsunyane-Ferguson young, which is no surprise considering this heir-raising dynasty

Emmanuel Tjiya S Mag Editor-in-chief
Seasoned actor and businesswoman Connie Ferguson (right) with her daughter Lesedi Matsunyane-Ferguson.
Seasoned actor and businesswoman Connie Ferguson (right) with her daughter Lesedi Matsunyane-Ferguson.
Image: Steve Tanchel

Lesedi Matsunyane-Ferguson feels like a “bad b*tch”, the type you see in trap music videos.

She loves her music-video-vixen transformation, draped in a custom David Tlale leotard. The body-hugging and see-through catsuit champions her hour-glass curves, so much so that she has no time for the signature DT antelope jacket paired with it.

Everyone on set is obsessing over how ridiculously hot she looks, while she admires herself in the mirror and takes as many snaps as possible.

She’s so sizzling that if you looked up “badass” and “boss lady” on Urban Dictionary, you’d be welcomed by her face. Heck, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion should have cast her in the WAP music video.

The 30-year-old daughter of the legendary Connie Ferguson confesses to me how special the moment is — it’s been over two decades since they did a mother-daughter shoot.

“It’s quite full-circle and interesting to see the two different generations. We are very different, but we complement each other,” Lesedi says.

When they emerge from a changing room in almost identical Mantsho kimonos, with the label’s designer Palesa Mokubung helping them get dressed, the resemblance is uncanny.

Lesedi is rocking more funky braids, and Ferguson has been given a complete overturn from her typical clean, slicked back hair. “Less Armani (sleek and elegant) and more Versace (vampy and edgy)” — that’s her beauty brief for the day, so Ferguson disappears into a voluminous 1960s bouffant.

Image: Steve Tanchel

"Of course, there is constant comparison and pressure with being Connie Ferguson’s daughter. It’s as though they expect me to either be like her or be something better — be it in the way I look, how I dress or in my career,” Lesedi says.

Lesedi is showbiz royalty. Her father is actor and director Neo Matsunyane, associated with productions such as Skeem Saam, Scandal!, and Muvhango.

Her stepfather is the late actor and filmmaker Shona Ferguson, whose memorable TV credits include Isidingo, The Wild, and Rockville.

Her aunt is veteran radio and TV broadcaster Kgomotso Matsunyane. Her half-sister is actor and theatre director Momo Matsunyane — Lesedi explains that she opted for Afda film school instead of Wits to avoid comparison with Momo.

At Afda, she studied live performance and motion picture.“Performance is all I know. I’ve known since I was a toddler, before I could even talk. I’d watch both my parents on TV and imitate them or recite lines,” Lesedi recalls.

Working for her family’s production house Ferguson Films, over the past seven years Lesedi has built a strong résumé and believes she has more than paid her dues. “I started from the bottom up… no two productions are ever the same, even if it’s the same company. It’s these different experiences and lessons that better you in your field.”

She began her career as a production assistant in season one of Igazi, where she was a runner, getting cast and crew coffee, printing scripts, and compiling call sheets. Next came production co-ordinator for season 4 of Rockville, after which she was cast co-ordinator for The Queen from season 1 to 5, being promoted to casting director until the show concluded in January.

In-between that she juggled other Ferguson Films shows, including being production manager for season 2 of Unmarried and casting director for drama series Kings of Joburg, which premiered its second season on Netflix in January.

Image: Steve Tanchel

“That was a very tough show to execute. We shot in the peak of winter and most of us got sick at least twice in those two months. The odds were against us, and it was a labour of love just to uphold my dad’s [Shona] legacy. This was his passion project, his baby,” she notes.

“I think he’d be proud of what we were able to do, but he will have a lot of notes, like for next time instead of A maybe let’s try B.”

When asked to weigh in on being a nepo baby, Lesedi chooses her words carefully, instead of giving a personal anecdote on the matter. “The whole nepo babies thing is tricky,” she says. “You have the nepo babies in the same industry as their parents, but who work hard and are talented. A great example for me is Tracee Ellis Ross, you forget that she’s Diana Ross’s daughter because of the work she has put out. But there are also those using their name to their advantage. Great on them, but talent will forever speak for itself.”

The mother of seven-year-old son Rowena has learnt many lessons from Ferguson, ranging from parenthood to beauty secrets.

“Motherhood is trial and error every day. There are days where it’s good and then bad. It’s a journey. The best advice I’ve received from my mom is to not be hard on myself, especially when he was an infant,” Lesedi says.

One of her most noticeable beauty features is her countless tattoos. For her, every tattoo tells a story — she classifies all the art on her left side as more “geeky”, showing me designs of the Marvel H.A.M.M.E.R and The Matrix code on her hand. Her right side is more “hippie”, including designs of a goddess, flowers, a panda, and a phoenix. But the most significant ink is perhaps the tattoo of Shona on her ribcage, which she got shortly after his death. 

“It was the most painful — don’t mess with the ribcage,” she warns. For now, Lesedi has taken a sabbatical from production and casting, her focus moving to acting. She has been to audition after audition.

“I want to create more stories for myself, as opposed to ‘the daughter of’. I know that is always going to come up, but I’m talented, I’ve worked hard, and those things will always prevail.”