FEATURE: Thabo Malema on the new enemy, his dream and COVID-19

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Creatives Under Lockdown is a SABC News feature, which focuses on issues affecting artists. This week actor, Thabo Malema , shares his experiences of being part of local and international productions.

Actor Thabo Malema who plays Mfazwe on SABC 2’s series Lithapo. Credit : Instagram @Thabo_Malemasa

Thabo Malema’s acting profile encompasses work in both local and international productions. He has starred along some of Hollywood’s favourites, including Jill Scott in the drama series The No 1 Detective Agency and Dominic Purcell in the movie Primeval Kill. Locally, he has shared sets with veterans including John Kani in the movie the White Lion and played the character Mondy in the historic movie Kalushi. He was also part of the award winning movie, A Million Colours.

Malema says the most challenging character he has had to depict was Jojo in the movie Primeval Kill.  “It was my first Hollywood appearance. I was still very young, intimidated by the scale and magnitude of the set, the level of professionalism the big stars that I grew up watching, now I was starring alongside them. So settling and finding my footing and place and really doing the character justice came after some time.”


The film Kalushi, which tells the story of anti-apartheid activist Solomon Mahlangu, went on to win the Golden Horn Award for Best Achievement in Original Score in a feature film  and the Best Film Award at Egypt’s Luxor African Film Festival. Malema says playing Mondy was a blessing. “He was a loose cannon Mondy, and I enjoyed playing someone who was actually out of my comfort zone. He was quite militant, a doer without thinking and generally aggressive. So, it was nice being thrown into the deep end of playing such a role. “

Youth Month 

This month South Africa remembers the youth of 1976 who stood up against the apartheid regime. The commemoration comes as South Africa is faced with a high youth unemployment rate. “Young people are faced with financial struggles beyond freedom. Young people are finding themselves to be more and more frustrated not knowing their place in society. I think the new enemy now is social ills that affect all communities that being unemployment, abuse of drugs and lack of opportunities for certain people,” says Malema.

Impact of coronavirus 

The world is currently facing the battle against the coronavirus. In South Africa, there are 908 coronavirus related deaths. The lockdown to curb the spread of the virus has negatively affected different sectors of the economy. It has left some artists jobless. “The production I was working on was shutdown and as a result one had to stay home. In my line of work you don’t get paid if you don’t work. So, I find it to be very challenging, it has been frustrating financially, as an artist it has cheated me of my daily bread.”

The Mabopane born artist aims to win the Best Actor Oscar award some day. “And I believe I will.”

Q: What is your favourite genre of music?

A: I am 80s so Kwaito is still my top one, followed by other genres. But I’m open to any type of music as long as it hits home, it touches one in one way or another.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: I love spending time with family. I love sports, in particular soccer. I love reading, a bit of pantsula and gumboots dancing. I love physically orientated activities.

Q: Which books are you currently reading?

A: I am currently reading Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill and The Power of No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy .

Below is a podcast with Thabo Malema: 


Related : Part 1 :Starving artist’ a more meaningful phrase amid lockdown

Related : Part 2: ‘I don’t know myself outside my world of acting’

Related: Part 3:  Letshego Zulu on fitness under lockdown 

Related: Part 4 : Uzalo’s Wiseman Mncube shares his journey

Related : Part 5:Artists advised to spend prudently in order to survive rainy days