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Meet Angela Matemotja of Matemotja Productions in Hawthorne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angela Matemotja.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Angela. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in the former U.S.S.R. into a bi-cultural and bi-racial family, my perspective and experiences in this world have never been quite “ordinary.”

My black South African Father was a part of the political arm of the ANC, which helped him escape from the political oppression to study in the former U.S.S.R. In Kiev is where my father met and married my mother, a young Russian woman whose family settled there after the war. Kiev is also my birthplace.

As a consequence of my father having to live in exile, by the time I was eight years old I’d lived in Russia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Arriving in America speaking only Swahili and Russian, I immediately realized that I did not fit in with other kids. By the time I was a teenager, feeling like a misfit and growing up in the South Bay during the Reagan era, I naturally fell into the punk rock scene. Punk rock and Ska music expressed everything that I was and everything that I felt.

The legitimized anger echoed in bands like Crass, MDC, Uniform Choice, TSOL, The Specials, SSD Control and Operation Ivy was something that I related to on a visceral level and was not hearing about in popular culture in a way that I could understand. These early experiences, coupled with my empathic nature helped me form my outlook on culture and race and led me into the arts.

I started my career in entertainment as an actor. I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and have appeared feature films. Some credits include the role of ‘Christina’ in Tyler Perry’s The Single Mom’s Club, and alongside Kevin Hart in the indie comedy film Something Like A Business.

In television, roles include appearances on the CBS mega-hit comedy How I Met Your Mother, Amazon’s top cop-drama Bosch, ABC’s long-running series Castle and edgy sitcom Don’t Trust The B, and Ryan Murphy’s modern laugher The New Normal on NBC.

Behind the scenes, my directing debut was in the theatre back in 2005, when I earned an NAACP Award nomination for directing the stage play Sunshine For a Midnight Weary. Since then, I’ve started writing and directing films.

My mission as a filmmaker is to explore the social, subcultural and international aspects of our nation, one story at a time. I’ve been sharing this mission since 2011, through my work with Matemotja Productions. Our world is in crisis and I believe that art can heal. We as artists, have the power to encourage dialogue for understanding, acceptance and compassion.

I believe stories that shine a light on issues such as police brutality, racism, homophobia, mental illness, homelessness, religion discrimination, addiction, equal rights for women, incarceration, child abuse, and elderly abuse; can help educate, inspire change and elevate our consciousness.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As an actor, I often felt my skills were under utilized due to the fact that many of the roles I went out for were either maids or nannies which I beleive is due to my race. Typecasting is definitely changing in Hollywood, but I grew tired of waiting to be considered for more interesting roles and decided to start creating my own films.

My most recent feature film ELEVATE, (available on Amazon Prime) is a piece that I wrote, directed and starred in. It was incredibly fulfilling to create a leading role for myself.

As filmmakers, there are many obstacles as well. Getting “eyes” on my projects is a challenge. As I continue to grow and learn, I hope to get better and more strategic as a filmmaker to ensure my projects are seen worldwide.

Please tell us about Matemotja Productions.
Cultivating a Cinematic Culture of Compassion, One Story at a Time. That is our mission statement.

At Matemotja Productions, we seek to produce socially conscious films that reveal the often untold stories of our subculture. By embracing internationalism and shedding light on the different social aspects of the world, we will cultivate a cinematic culture that inspires dialogue for understanding, acceptance and compassion.

I am most proud of our most recent film, which is a comment on post-apartheid South Africa, homophobia and food addiction. We’ve won a handful of awards at different film festivals and ELEVATE can be viewed on iTunes, Amazon Prime, and most other online platforms.

Our next feature film deal with themes of racism, police brutality and child abuse.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Ultimately I’d like to be able to finance our own projects by aligning Matemotja Productions with organizations that support film production companies that focus specifically on creating socially conscious content.

This is easier done with documentaries, but it’s something that we are exploring to ensure we continue creating thought-provoking, socially important films. With every project we do, so much is learned and I imagine we will continue growing and learning.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Matemotja Productions, Dele Ogundiran

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