Cleo Rinkwest (also Cleo Mmaletsatsi Moloi; born 26 August 1988) is a South African actress, writer and producer. Cleo was born in a small town called Lenasia and raised in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg.
Cleo’s first on-stage performance was at the age of 6 and despite a wardrobe malfunction, she continued to perform until the curtain was drawn. Looking back, she can see how that would be a defining moment and a foreshadowing of how she would endure and grow in her love for serving a story and the audience regardless of the obstacles she’d face.
Cleo began her formal performance training at the Ennerdale School of Dance at the age of 10. At the age of 16, she had become the recipient of numerous regional and national ballroom and Latin American dance championship titles.
Upon completing her high school career, she took a gap year in the USA to travel, work as an au pair and study part-time. She took a couple of short courses through the UCLA extension TV writers program. It was then that I discovered that she wanted to pursue storytelling studies full time. She applied to SCAD (Savannah School of Arts and Design, rated 25 schools in the world by the Hollywood Reporter) - she got accepted but despite a year-long process was unable to secure funding to attend.
However, upon her return home to SA, she was discovered and introduced to Shakespeare by acclaimed veteran actress Dorothy Anne Gould under whom she continued her acting training and mentorship.
In 2012 Cleo was cast in Sophocles’Antigone, in which she played the namesake of the play. Shortly after, she received a nomination for her role in As It Used To Be – a short film by French director Clement Gonzales that has been selected for 81 festivals and has won 37 awards worldwide.
She also appeared as the lead in the SAMA nominated act, Mi Casa’s music video titled Heavenly Sent. In addition, Cleo has had the fortune of working with Samuel L Jackson, India Eisley, Callan McCauliff, Luthuli Dlamini, Shona Ferguson, Connie Ferguson, Tiffany Barbazano, Frank Opperman, Ralph Ziman, Cindy Lee, Catherine Stewart and Thandi Brewer to name a few notable performers and directors.
At 23 Cleo was the youngest writer to work on the BAFTA-nominated soap, The Wild, head created by Rohan Dickson (Reyka, Desert Rose) who mentored her in the development of her voice as a writer. Her other writing credits include Safta award-winning series Soul City, Zone 14, Isidingo, Ashes to Ashes, Inkaba, Zabalaza and Keeping Score in which she portrayed gymnast, Jin Jai Kim. In 2021 Cleo completed story consulting and character development for All The Lost Girls, a thriller series being developed and produced by Beyond Reel Entertainment. Cleo is also part-owner and creative director of Moloi Moving Pictures.
She has been married to Lehasa Moloi since 2013 and together they enjoy a full life with their two children Letsatsi and Lenyeloi.