Mampho And Rainn Brescia: The Globetrotting Mother-Daughter Duo We Can Take Lessons From
On a bright and crisp late afternoon in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, actress Mampho Brescia opens up her home to Batswadi Magazine. She greets me while standing in the courtyard of her home, dressed in an oversized “Red Hot Chilli Peppers” lounge hoodie and boho-patterned leggings, looking vastly different from the glamour goddess figure seen online and on our TV screens. In spite of her laid-back outfit and bare face, the star, as cliché as it sounds, is much more striking in person. The glamour that seems to have left with her fashionable clothes and hairstyles basks and revels in the natural glint of her gently slanted eyes which rest on her high cheekbones. In the courtyard, she is accompanied by talent manager Lesego and 9-year-old daughter Rainn, a wispy and whimsical girl who plays with slime and makes it a point to provide insightful and corrective ad-libs throughout mom’s interview.
Fans and followers of Mampho know her as the ultimate girl’s girl in entertainment who’s formed an enviable sisterhood alliance with prominent industry women such as Terry Pheto, Kgomotso Christopher, Thembi Seete, Rosette Ncwana and many others. Her impressive vita covers prominent works in South Africa’s soap opera canon and includes roles in Isidingo, Generations, Jacob’s Cross, Isibaya, and most recently Netflix’s Shadow and Savage Beauty (out 12 May), not to mention her movie roles in films like District 9, The Jakes Are Missing, I Am All Girls or her role alongside Dustin Hoffman in the HBO series Luck and Eraser: Reborn (a Warner Brother’s film coming out on HBO Max this June). She’s also been a LUX influencer and became the first South African to be named a Brand Japan Ambassador in 2018. Even as a successful powerhouse in the entertainment industry, her daughter only knows her as the mom who enjoys staying in bed and asking for cuddles from her every morning. And even though she’s a “woman who belongs to the world”, as described by her friend Terry, Mampho seems more mesmerising at home where she admits to struggling with the aspects of parenting that require one to be more selfless.
“I think when I had a child I realised that a great deal of life becomes less about you and that’s my struggle. It took me and my husband forever to have a kid and so for a long time, the world revolved around me. Then Rainn came and there was a new princess in town. When you’re parenting, you can’t do small things like sleep as long as you want, you have to play even when you don’t want to and you have to rework your entire schedule to fit someone else’s life. In a way, Rainn taught me how much of my life was about me. I guess parenting gives you a sense of your own flaws which can be challenging. However, it also gives you the opportunity to endeavour to change if you want to evolve. It’s a lifetime journey of learning and adjusting,” she says.
Fortunately, the stunning actress doesn’t have to do it all alone. The support of her husband, Nicola Brescia, keeps Mampho in constant awe over his stellar parenting skills. “I think he plays a more significant role when it comes to parenting. I don’t know how he does it, but parenting is so innate for him whereas for me I really have to make an effort. He’s less selfish than I am and more selfless,” she says. When I ask her to describe her parenting style, Rainn, who’s been relatively quiet since the beginning of the interview, shouts out “strict!” from a distance away.
“Why am I strict, Mama?” Mampho asks Rainn, laughing. She confidently answers that mommy shouts too much. “I am strict though,” she admits, “I have to be the stricter parent because her father is so lenient with her and I have to try to create that balance. She has him wrapped around her little finger.”
Rainn, who is infinitely charming and curious, is like her mother in the sense that she too is a girl that belongs to the world. Around the time when Mampho was Rainn’s age her parents, who lived under a racist regime that was resolved to quell the knowledge and aspirations of black people, were just as eager to expose Mampho to the world through books, education and history. “My parents wanted me to be exposed to a world that was bigger than where we lived and where we existed,” she says. In adulthood, she‘s been able to exercise the love that her parents gave her for culture and the world not only by exploring the world on her own, but by spoiling her child with the gift of travel. At 9-years-old, Rainn is truly cosmopolitan.
“I enjoyed going to Dubai,” says Rainn. “There’s Legoland, and my cousin and my friend are there. I also like Italy because there are so many toy shops there! Seriously, there are so many toy shops and the food there is super yummy. I also liked going to Austria and the Maldives. A place that I haven’t been to yet that I’d love to visit is Portugal because my cousin from my dad’s side is there.”
“I want her to understand the world, not from a narrow perspective, but from a place of bravery,” Mampho explains. “I want her to be comfortable going beyond her environment and to dare to be different if that’s what she wants to do. I think travelling can give important lessons in that.”
Rainn, who enjoys getting Starbucks and shopping for clothes, is very independent, according to her mom, and she does a seemingly good job of insulating herself away from the complicated world of adulthood. When I ask her what she thinks of her mom being a celebrity, she initially furrows her brows with question and is forced to think long and hard about what mom does for a living.
“I don’t really pay attention to work, because I’m a child. I think mommy stays in bed, asks me for cuddles every morning and asks dada for wine sometimes,” she says.
“Oh wow you’re selling me out. That’s not my job Rainny,” says Mampho, laughing and hiding her face. After a few clues left by myself and Lesego, Rainy remembers that indeed, she has seen her mom on Netflix acting and that she’s been on the set of Isibaya but that she was more interested in a room that contained lots of toys and candy. She remembers that it was alright seeing her mom on Netflix, but also recalls how she had to leave when there were guns, not because she was told to, but because she doesn’t like guns.
Apart from not impressing her daughter with her acting gigs on Netflix and TV, Mampho does enjoy kicking back, lounging and practising self-care. “I love being in my bed and in my bedroom. It’s a place where I can think about my life and plan what’s up next. Sometimes when I’m not rushing to set and working all day, I’ll be here at home planning and strategising le motho waka about our future and what it looks like.” Part of her self-care routine includes the use of her soothing boob masks and inner fragrances, which she showed off recently on an episode of Downtime with Somizi.
“I partnered with Godessa, a company that does the most amazing feminine products,” she explains. “The inner perfumes and boob masks are basically for your self-care and cosmetic needs. I love them because they’re beauty products, but they’re very healthy and aren’t gonna mess with your acidity. It’s all-natural stuff and essential oils that we’re using to help enhance our pheromones and how we feel about ourselves as women. It’s about being able to take the time to just delve into that state of self and love yourself, because we often take care of our hair or our face, but we neglect other parts of our bodies like our breasts or our vaginal areas and those are significant parts of our bodies. I’m trying to sort of blast that taboo that we can’t talk about or pay attention to those parts of our bodies.”
This Mother’s Day, a day she will likely spend celebrating with close friends and family, Mampho’s memory will linger back to her late mother, whom she credits for her own sense of strength and fighting spirit. When I ask her about memories with her mother that stand out, she recalls a time when she was being mistreated by a white teacher as the only black child at a catholic school.
“I had this abusive teacher who literally used to terrorise me. I just remember telling my mom that I’m done and that I can’t take it anymore. Then one day my mom came to my school. She kicked the door down and came in like a soldier and gave that teacher a piece of her mind. She was this tiny black woman who stood up to a white woman in a white world so that she could defend her child. That was a defining moment for me it really instilled strength in me and shaped how I saw the world and how I thought of myself because that was the last time anyone terrorised me.”
As the interview draws to an end, Rainn makes a kind request for mom to leave. She talks to me privately about the plans she has for her 9th birthday party which she’s apparently banned adults from attending. “It’s “top-secret!” she says, before outlying her plans to stay up late with friends to watch movies and pull pranks.