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Prince Grootboom steps up and turns on the heat

The dancer-turned-actor is the ultimate seduction

Nombuso Kumalo Content Producer
The effervescent Prince Grootboom.
The effervescent Prince Grootboom.
Image: Steve Tanchel

Prince Grootboom’s arrival for his cover shoot sparks a cheerful welcome from his Jiva! co-star Noxolo Dlamini. Soon, the Santorini-inspired poolside at Villa Simonne Boutique Hotel in Houghton is abuzz with pleasantries and laughter. The dancer-cum-actor is an instant hit with the production crew.  

Once he jumps onto set, he charms everyone with his dance moves and photographs like a dream. Frame after frame, he’s serving magic, wrapping up his shoot in an impressive 45 minutes.  

“Dancing will forever be my first love; however, don’t make me choose between dancing and acting. If it weren’t for dancing, none of this would be happening,” he says. 

But it’s acting that has made Grootboom the one to watch. With the success of Netflix’s risqué drama series Fatal Seduction in July, the 25-year-old has become an object of affection for many viewers. His portrayal of Casanova Jacob Tau has garnered the attention of Mzansi. Who can forget the sexy promo material for the show featuring his perfectly contoured arms and sculptured shoulders between the sheets with co-star Kgomotso Christopher? The visual quickly went viral. 

When I corner him about being a heartthrob, Grootboom exhales and then grins. “The attention has been crazy. I spend a large chunk of my time indoors. Yesterday, I was at a friend’s birthday but couldn’t stay long because of the fans. It was my first time out as ‘Jacob’ and people were going nuts. I’m enjoying it, though. People appreciating what I’m doing means I’m doing a good job.” 

Fans gushing over ‘Jacob’ in public is something those close to Grootboom know all too well and about which his girlfriend of seven months constantly teases him. Sorry, he is taken!  

“The first couple of intimate scenes were uncomfortable. However, after a couple of weeks’ shooting, I got comfortable. It was always a closed set, which added to the comfort and safety when shooting nude,” Grootboom says of filming the show’s hot love scenes. “We rehearsed all the sex scenes two weeks prior to shooting. Kate Lush and her team of intimacy coordinators would fly in and help. We had to give our consent before we started shooting and wardrobe would be on standby, waiting to cover us after we were done. They wanted everyone to be safe. It was a beautiful seven months, and I would do it again.”

Image: Steve Tanchel

Grootboom still pinches himself about working with such established names as Thapelo Mokoena, Nathaniel Ramabulana, and Christopher. 

Growing up, Grootboom says he was reserved and private. A stroll through his Instagram page reveals how close to the chest he truly is. As a young man raised in Gqeberha, he was convinced professional cricket was his destiny — until Smooth Criminal awakened the dancer in him.   

“I remember watching Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal music video at 12 and being inspired. I admired Los Angeles street-dancing duo Krump Ceasare ‘Tight Eyez’ Willis and Jo’Artis ‘Big Mijo’ Ratti and how they expressed themselves, thinking how that could be me. The dancing aspect of my life opened me up. If it weren’t for dancing, perhaps I would still have been that reserved cricket player,” he admits.  

Grootboom’s relationship with music was influenced by his musician brother. And soon after he found his first love — dance, a gift he believes came from God. At about the same time, other interests began to rise in his heart. “As a kid, I always envisioned myself on Broadway, and we [he and his childhood friends] used to put on theatre productions in Gqeberha. We would lip-sync to the words and music of renowned playwrights. I believe that was preparing me for acting,” he says.  

With his passion for dance locked in his heart, Grootboom chased after a qualification in public relations. Dropping out in his first year owing to family issues, he picked up his academic pursuits in Durban. When he had another setback, he dropped out again, but scrummed into a unique way to make some quick money.

Image: Steve Tanchel

“Whenever the Natal Sharks would score a try, I would do push-ups and get R500. Soon after I became a cheerleader for the Sharks. I started dancing at corporate gigs and at Idols showcases,” he says. 

In 2017, Grootboom moved to Joburg. One of his first gigs was a showcase for DJ Black Coffee by choreographer Bontle Modiselle. “Joining the cast of Jiva! was because of Modiselle. When Netflix was looking for the character, she called me, saying, ‘They are looking for a character for Jiva! — have you acted before?’ I hesitated at first but then went for it,” he remembers. 

Grootboom went on to play the lead character of Makhekhe – a love interest of Ntombi (played by Dlamini). The casting director for Jiva!, Bonnie Lee Bouman, also did the casting for Fatal Seduction. She remembered Grootboom and asked him to audition for the role of Jacob Tau.  

Grootboom has also just wrapped filming 1Magic series 1802: Love Defies Time (where he met his actress girlfriend Banele Plaatjies). She accompanied him on set and captured behind-the-scenes clips on her smartphone while we took turns making fun of them for playing brother and sister onscreen. 

“We have finished shooting 1802: Love Defies Time. I got one week’s rest and began shooting another production. My lips are sealed on this — all I’ll say is that people will fall in love with [his character]. I’ve been dancing for 15 years, and it’s been a beautiful experience, especially with the doors of acting opening up. This year has been a blessing.” 

Image: Steve Tanchel