Actor never looked back

AWARD-WINNING actor Mduduzi Mabaso, known as Suffocate in the popular soapie Rhythm City, was born in Alexandra on 18th Avenue.

Many might remember him from other television shows such as Yizo-Yizo, Zone 14, and A Place Called Home. He has featured in theatre shows such as Shaka Zulu, Cry the Beloved Country and Madiba's Magic. He has also starred in the internationally acclaimed films Hotel Rwanda and Catch a Fire.

But it was undoubtedly Suffocate that made him a household name and won him a South African Film and Television Award as Best Supporting Actor.

Mabaso, who still lives in Alex, says he is very comfortable there and does not see himself leaving the township.

"I might find a quieter place in the future, but my life will be in Alex."

From humble beginnings, Mabaso did not grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has and continues to work hard. Though one of the country's most sought-after actors, he remains humble and rooted in Alex and its people, whom he says helped shape his career.

He draws inspiration from the people around him. His parents managed to send him to a good school where he got a decent education. He would like to continue studying because he believes education is the key to success.

Mabaso's first encounter with acting was when he was asked to replace a main character in a school play. He has never looked back.

"It was not a smooth ride, but I managed to pull it off. I went to countless auditions and didn't get the jobs, but I never stopped pursuing acting.

"There were days when I thought an office job would be better than acting because the rejection became way too much for me."

When a friend advised him to join an agency, Mabaso approached Moonyeen Lee Associates.

The Alex community benefits from his career because he shares his experience and expertise with the youngsters in the area.

He also writes and directs plays and his play, Tasha on the Rocks, played at the local civic centre. He wants to continue writing plays for young people and also to train them.

Like many actors, Mabaso dreams about playing a lead role in an international movie.

Besides being an actor Mabaso is also father of two, Ntokozo and Njabulo, whom he says have groomed him and changed his outlook on life.

"Being a father is more than just growing a beard. One needs to be responsible and to provide for his children."

Mabaso's message to people who look up to him is that they need to go to school. He says that it is important to mix talent and creativity with hard work.

"Aim high and go above all expectations."

Mabaso is not only a good actor. He has a golden voice too and he can belt out a tune or two.