INTERVIEW WITH JABULANI MTHOMBENI
Working as an Actor can be both challenging and fulfilling at the same time, as the work often comes with a lack of stability. In this interview, Jabulani Mthombeni who is an ACTOR explains how he managed to build a career for himself in an incredibly competitive industry.
Question 1: Can you take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers, especially, with regard to your name, place of birth and what you do as a creative person?
Jabulani Mthombeni is a 33 years old gentlemen who was born and bred in KZN, but later on moved to gauteng by his dad at a tender age of 10. He pride himself of been born in the home of Champions. So basically I live 2 different life style, when I’m in KZN I am a Zululandian, in Gauteng gautenenian���
“As creative person, I’m a Performer as well as an Actor. I do theatre and television work, that’s my profession! I’m a Songwriter who have written songs and have sung them, which I still do”, said Jabulani. There’s a lot that he does in the creative space though his chief aim is to perform as an actor.
Question 2: What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day.
Mthombeni’s job involves lot of respect, hard work, dedication, determination, passion but most of it all love, because when you love (or love) something you always think about it in a positive way and you don’t mind investing time on it. Whenever you are given a character or a role to play, it is advisable that you do research, go all out and see yourself as that person? I’m telling you, you will smash each and every character you get.
Question 3: You are a PROESSIONAL ACTOR (THEATRE PRACTITIONER |TELEVISION ACTOR | RADIO DRAMA | STAGE PLAY), which role best describes you here, and why?
For me all of them describe me, you see I started this whole performing thing in the community spaces from the townships, joined competitions in Gauteng and winning them. So in the ground you are not entitled to one role, we are taught to be versatile especially in this industry. Until I went to big theatre spaces in Gauteng that’s where I met big people, just to name the few, the likes of abo Bab u Hamilton Dlamini, John Kani, Ausi Matlakala the iShashalazi Theatre Practioner…, But for me theatre is the magic of all the spaces of telling stories, when you have started there nothing can stop you.
Question 4: You have a wealth of knowledge in the arts, can you briefly tell the audience what you’ve studied, when did you study and at which institution you’ve studied?
Studied performing arts at Wits School of Arts in partnership with Jo’burg Theatre for (three) 3 years, and I started this journey of education in 2014 and completed in 2016. And I also went to study film, TV Production, and Sound at “Revolution Media Academy” in Braamfontein just to add some more skills in working behind the Camera to enhance my knowledge in performance or acting.
Question 4: How did you get here or what made you to focus on the above (the career path you have undertaken) as a young man.? What skills do one require(s) to be able to work effectively and efficiently in all the roles you occupied?
Mthombeni advised that when you (have) love of something, nothing can stop you from pursuing whatever you have passion of. I started acting at an early age, I think I was 6 year old by then, in KZN. My love for acting was fueled by my love for radio drama which I did not like missing despite having to walk long distance to reach home. “So this thing of loving acting started there and it grows until I wanted to see myself one day participating in those stories because those time we did not have television at home. Radio was the thing for us so big up to Ukhozi FM”,as he appreciate its contributions in his life.
In this dispensation or rather the 4th Industrial Revolution era, access to information is made simple for all from different walks of life. The skills required in what I am doing is love and the willingness to study in order to get more knowledge and skills required to enhance and develop one’s characterization. Read, read, read, read books all the time!!
Question 5: I can see that you have a background in Radio Drama, can you briefly tell us about it and your reasons for leaving it (if no longer involved in Radio)?
“I love radio very much and wish I could return fully one day you know, I have other prior commitments, in the form of theatre which is taking most of my time”, said Mthombeni. You see when you are a Radio Drama Storyteller, all that is needed is the proper (usage of) a home language which (mostly) depends on the radio station and the character you are portraying. Characters in radio dramas should be able to change their voices in addition to been able to change characters. Be a fast good reader as well.
Question 6: Can you briefly tell our audience through your experience with Joburg Theatre, Market Theatre, and Wits Theatre?
Started seeing theatre spaces even before I went to study my acting, because ever since from high school I have been doing community stories so they would take us to theatre spaces to compete for art national festival in graham’s town, Zwakala Festival, Ishashalazi Theatre and Poetry. Working in theatre spaces have taught me some invaluable lessons of been able to work using Conventional drama elements rather than using poor theatre approach as in the case of Community halls.
Question 7: Wendy’s Talent Agency is one of the reputable agencies that works to develop and or nurture talents, tell us what you got there and when did you get involved with them?
I had my encounter with them when I was still studying at Wits, so the owner of the agency once saw me performing in Joburg Theatre and later (she) approached me and scheduled an interview with me. You know how agencies are operating.
Question 8: What are the highlights of your career to date? Take some time to talk us through the following Projects with regard to the roles and characters you have played in the roles: I’ve done a lot of Shows, Theatre Pieces and TV Productions of which some where successful whereas some were not because they didn’t meet the criterion for funding by Mzanzi Magic. But recently I shot with the “Queen” playing a character of a Street Vendor who was selling Mjekejeke (IMBIZA), and this was a “scripted role”. I did also a lot of background for TV series with the likes of ISIBAYA in order to understand the atmosphere of the Set and Studio spaces and how actors do their thing just to engage with them.
- The Cave Production: I had a slot with them in Theatre spaces in Gauteng, Joburg Theatre, Market Theatre, Hillbrow Theatre, WITS Theatre in addition to working with many artists.
- Ishashalazi– Is a theatre and poetry program wherein artists compete for Gauteng top 10 and the selected shows are taken to the camp to be equipped with the skills in performance. The shows and individuals whose shows wins the program the same are taken to “Art National Festivals in Graham Town”, where there’s scout across the globe for the talent. There’s prices for the shows that wins and awards for best actors and actresses are bestowed to the best performances and shows.
- Phoyisa– (a 2022 series) its meaning and language in relation to the character played. It’s starting April 2023 I’m not sure with the actual day but it’s going to be on your National Channel 157 Moja Love. There I’m playing a character of a guy who’s in love with a lady who went through a lot, but I was later accused of killing her. There’s too much of investigations happening here, hence its title, “Phoyisa” because there’s police doing justice. It’s a very interesting story look out for it. I’m playing Stukie”, said Mthombeni.
Question 8: You’ve won in a competition conducted by IMTA and DREAM FACTORY. In addition talk to me about the AUDITIONS | TALENT SHOWCASE to be hosted from 25-29 June 2023 in New York City, United States of America.
Last year 2022 September, I got an opportunity to participate in the auditions competition for Gauteng, so if I’m selected there was going to come again and audition for Gauteng, yes I was selected, I smashed it, than we went to the next level for national auditions for South Africa, I also nailed it to the next level until I was shortlisted to the actors who will be auditioning for the international showcase in America for June 2023, so I also won, the audition were held in Krugersdorp’s Casino’ That last auditions is the one from which I got a callback that I must to go to the United States of America, New York City to showcase my talent. But I am looking for a Sponsorship for this one because it’s massive, Flight and Accommodation, Food and Training, International Photo-Shoots will be included in the package of R89 507,25.
Question 9: Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it? For now I’m looking for the Sponsorship to my trip to the United States of America to showcase my talent, so that’s the challenge I’m currently working on. If only I can get one my life would change not only my personal life though but my community will change because I believe that a development must come within the community. Other than that the challenges I always face as an artist for me are not over my shoulders because I believe that everything has its time as long I’m on a right track, will prosper no matter what challenges we come across are not permanent.
Question 10: You are a man of many talents: I can see that you also have played Sipho’s character from “Nothing but the Truth”, a play by John Kani: kindly tell the readers when was it and the purpose thereof?
It was in 2011 when I got an opportunity to be a cast for the script, it was also a competition brought by the program called GOMMAC in Gauteng, the competition was very huge and very interesting in that there was an opportunity to go play and teach it at high schools as they were doing “Nothing but the Truth” as a drama book. We once performed it for Badirile High school and other neighboring schools. I got a certificate of performing well and I was grateful for everything. The purpose of the competition was to scouts the talent from young upcoming actors and actress but sadly unfortunately we had to be replaced with other production that was playing Wza Albert because one of our cast member fall pregnant and we had to go to the art national festival but the lady was playing Thando was playing the character with a 3 months pregnant so thy had to replace us and there was no way that we can look and cast other character because of the short space of time, the lines was gonna be too much. I was very angry for her, but I had to accept and move on.
Question 11: I can see that you have also CAST at the QUEEN (last year) in 2022, can you talk to us about the character you had played therein!
Was cast for the character of a street vendor selling Mjekejeke (Imbiza) the home remedies for man basically I’m a traditional healer there. It’s scripted. The character was very nice nothing was challenging because I did my research about the character so everything was sweetest.
Question 12: Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?
Yes, there’s always changes; you see our industry evolves every time hence I believe that learning must not stop for artist because when we learn we grow and we are able to meet the required standards that is needed in the performing arts. The technology has produced different kind of people, some are called influencers so nowadays we must be informed and engage ourselves to this things in a positive way.
Question 13: You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to a 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Respect yourself and others, know what you want in life and stick to your definite chief aim no matter what. Just know that good things takes time, especially when you are coming from the humble beginning, and even if you get to the limelight learn to stay humble and keep on moving because the sky is the limit. “Always know what you want and move to that direction”, said Mthombeni. Take risks that can benefit and make you grow but obviously golden rule risk.
Question14: Who is your role model in the creative industry, and what is it that they are doing?
Samuel L Jackson, the late Menzi Ngubane and Jimie Bartlett. But I also look up to Dr John Kani
Question 15: Can you talk to me about your motivation and or inspiration to keep you going when the going gets tough? That nothing is impossible in life I believe that you are what you think you are. Love of the industry keeps me going.
Question 15: When was memorable moment for you during the working of the projects, and why?
Working with the well good professional experienced actors and actress is the most amazing and memorable thing ever.
Question 16: Which qualities do you think make a great (artist) and or creative person?
Respect, determination and love for the craft in addition to having the willingness to learn and accept changes. Be able to adapt fast in everything.
Question 17: Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job? Yes. Go to school to further your studies, associates with the right people and have love for every being, never judge anyone.