The #HustleTales of Donald Molosi, Actor and Writer

Brief Bio:

I am a classically-trained actor and I also write plays and fiction. I perform around the world and I am consciously doing more work within the African continent as of last year. This past year, 2015, I was privileged to have my short story “Beetroot Salad” longlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize. My other short story, “The Biggest Continent” won the Bessie Head Award. I am currently running a theater company called Folk Tale in Botswana that does exclusively untold African stories.
dm logo

Current Location:

Santa Barbara, California

Current gig(s):

I am currently in pre-production for an off-Broadway theater show and I am also promoting my new book called We Are All Blue.

Current computer(s):

MacBook Pro

Current mobile device(s):

iPhone

One word that best describes how you work:folktale

With a smile on my face. I try not to strain, to work hard without being miserable. That is not one word but I think it gives insight into the vibe I jibe with.

Any tips/secret techniques for being able to constantly keep a smile on one’s face?
I am a spiritual person and I am driven by gratitude. That means I try to see beauty around me and always remember that there is something or someone for me to be grateful for, and that is what makes me smile even on days when I would honestly rather stay under covers all day. I find that making time to be still and to be in meditation gives a needed break to our frantic lives. Another thing is that I am unattached to material possessions and that greatly reduces one’s stress. In my relationships and friendships, I give without expectation of receiving anything back and that is the most freeing way of seeing life and it is guaranteed to make for more smiles than frowns.

How did you end up at your current gig?

I have been performing off-Broadway for a decade and so to mark that decade I am sharing the plays I wrote and starred in off-Broadway. It is a special project, this book. It is a critical love letter to Africa and its diaspora to – in the words of Marcus Garvey – “rise, you mighty race!”

Are there any career decisions/life choices/failures that were fundamental in making you the person you are now, doing what you are doing now?

I am no stranger to being under-estimated. Every time I am under-estimated I find quick inspiration to be better. So, for me, the fact that I was never the popular kid in school or the noisiest person in the drama studio always means that I get under-estimated. And that truly inspires me in some elemental way. I do not believe in failure so, yes, I have had lessons along the way like balancing art with business, but I do not consider them failures. The joy of the projects I am working on now is how unpredictable they are because being underestimated means that I constantly have the potential to surprise. 

Is your startup (or whatever applies here) able to fully support you or do you have side gigs to sustain you as it grows? Any stories of some of the struggles/sacrifices you’ve had to make to see this dream come to life?

I find that being involved not just as a performer but as a producer and writer is financially helpful. I am also a motivational speaker for corporate events and I have always felt that as long as I am inspiring people with my work, I might be adding something worthwhile to the world. 

How did you end up in motivational speaking?
I realized that I had lived many lives and I had many stories to share for the good of others. I am also in a trade where compassion or empathy are the cornerstone of the trade. As an actor and writer, I am always sensitive to the plights and joys of my fellow man and so motivating people came from my realization that so many people walk around carrying so many frustrated dreams for fear of ridicule. So, I wanted to see if sharing my stories of the many lives – good and bad – that I have lived could lead someone to dream fulfillment in their own daily life. It is one of the ways that I try to add to the healing of the world. We have done an excellent job hurting each other as humanity and so I want to be part of that global catharsis.

Donald performing ‘Today Its Me’, a play about Philly Lutaya’s life

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Voice notes. I compose music all the time and always have to use it so that I do not forget the melody. I also love the Calendar a lot.

What’s your workspace like?

Neat but with big stacks of paper, mostly scripts I am reading or writing. I run a theater company so I am always editing and compiling things for the company’s upcoming seasons. There is always music playing in the background, especially music that calms me down like something by Pastor Bugembe. His song called “Komawo Eka” is one of my favorites to fire myself up before I sit down to work.

How big is the team of people you work with and what’s your formula for managing them?

Less than 10. I allow them to play to their strengths. That makes them truly creative. I am clear with my expectations and my vision and I am a leader who takes in as much feedback as I can. I find that the most effective thing is to always have a vision that everyone can be a part of.

What’s your best time-saving trick/life hack?

Responding to all long emails at airports and on planes. It always feels better responding to a long email when I don’t feel like I am taking away time from something else. When I am stuck on a plane I don’t feel guilty about spending a long time responding to emails.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

A physical diary. I like the tactility and the satisfaction of crossing out a task with a pen!

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

None. I live a simple life.

What everyday thing are you better at than most?

Time management, baby!

How did you manage to get this good at time management?
It was out of necessity. Late submissions or procrastination can literally cost me my career. I also believe that timeliness and time management come more naturally to me since I am a perfectionist in all that I do and it is just a personality trait. Also, I am constantly watching people in my life die and my awareness of mortality makes me not want to spend my finite time in this world being something I am not, wasting time, arguing about senseless things, begging and so forth. I choose to spend my finite time on earth being productive and useful to the next person as much as I can be.

How do you recharge?

Yoga and lots of sleep.

What do you listen to while you work?

Mostly I listen to high life music of the 1950’s.

blue black white motswana we are all blue

Donald Molosi’s Books

What are you currently reading?

The God of Small Things. I am reading it again. 

What usually leads you to buy a book?

Usually the blurb or, rarely, a name as well if I have encountered the author’s work before.  But it is mostly whether I care enough about the story enough for me to spend hours reading it. 

Books you’ve read recently that have impacted on you deeply?

Americanah by Adichie

What kind of impact did they have?

It showed me a reflection of my life in the US as a teenager and in my twenties. I felt validated, I felt my experience as a diaspora African validated somehow. 

Any mentors/role models that you are working with/have inspired you and what lessons have you managed to learn from them?

Tsitsi Dangarembga is one person I would love to do work with. She is a living legend in our trade and I find much inspiration in her every time we speak.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Very much introverted.

What’s your sleep routine like?

Go to bed early. And then rise early.

How do you strike a balance between work, family, friends and other social obligations?

I prioritize and I also go with what I really want to do. It is my time and no one has any right to force it out of my control. Don’t try to be everywhere at once. You will get burnt out.

Who would you like to see answer these same questions?

Jennifer Makumbi

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

You are worth it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I am excited to chat with you and I hope that people will find me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram as ActorDonald.

Donald Molosi on CNN African Voices

If you have any additional questions for Donald, feel free to drop them in the comment section below. He will try and answer those he can. Click here to read other Hustle Tales

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The Hustle Tales (adapted from LifeHackers, How I Work series) asks people that are doing epic things how they go through their daily routines to make sure whatever is needed to get the job accomplished is done. If you are interested in doing one these interviews or know someone you think should do one, inbox us with the details and we’ll see if we can make it happen.

Written by Hustle Tales

The Hustle Tales (adapted from LifeHackers, How I Work series) asks people that are doing epic things how they go through their daily routines to make sure whatever is needed to get the job accomplished is done.

If you are interested in doing one these interviews or know someone you think should do one, inbox us with their details and we'll see if we can make it happen.

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