When one door closes, another opens. And that’s the case for Thato Molamu, who is one of the 16 axed Generations actors. He is now hosting SABC2’s new game show, What’s Behind the Wall?, and will star in SABC1’s forthcoming drama, Kowethu. In a heart-to-heart with the actor, Debashine Thangevelo got the lowdown on where his head is at…
DESPITE the media circus around SABC1’s Generations in recent weeks, Thato Molamu, who has become a household name as Nicholas Nomvete in the soap, exudes infectious positivity.
And his attitude has paid off. Three weeks ago, he auditioned to host SABC2’s game show, What’s Behind the Wall?, and got the job.
He says: “Me auditioning was not because of the Generations strike. As artists, we strive to do different things. An opportunity was out there and I thought, ‘let me go audition’. I was on a month’s leave at the time.”
Funnily enough, he found himself in the same boat as fellow Generations actor Katlego Danke, who was also on leave (albeit maternity leave in her case) when the 16 were axed.
Back to the game show, he says his schedule has been crazy, but exciting at the same time.
“The first season is 52 episodes in total. We have been shooting, like, five to six episodes a day. This is my first time presenting a show. And I haven’t had quite a lot of time to prepare. Also, it’s quite a technical game, where you have to understand the lingo of the game,” he offers.
“With presenting, you have to be quite sharp. It’s more theatrical and that is what helped me as I come from a theatre background. I have been doing it since 1996.”
When probed as to what the role of the anchor in this game show is (which celebrates South African culture in a similar way to e.tv’s I Love South Africa, which is presented by Masechaba Lekalake), he offers: “The beauty of the show is that it deals with the general knowledge of our country, which is something I am quite passionate about. I feel that South Africans don’t take the time to get to know the history of our country, our heritage and some of the most monumental places of our country.
“I always say that the only way you can become (truly) patriotic is when you know your country. We have such a rich history and diversity of cultures and 11 official languages.
“It’s like 30 Seconds on TV. You have a certain time limit with four possible answers. Also, of the 14 bricks, two are elimination bricks. It’s quite exhilarating.”
And he also features in SABC1’s new drama, Kowethu, in which he is paired with Thando Thabethe, who was recently seen in SABC1’s My Perfect Family.
Molamu shares: “I play an ex-lover of the talented Thando. I play this obsessive ex-boyfriend, which is why she left him. It is that kind of dangerous love.
“I’ve never played a character who has this monster within. I always love exploring any side that is opposite to me and takes me out of my comfort zone. That’s why, as actors, we do what we do.”
Back to the issue of being fired and whether, if the situation comes to a more positive resolution, he would return to Generations, he says, “Yes!”
“Honestly, I do love my job. That is why I stayed for so long. It’s a great show, a big show,” he points out.
“They say that with great power comes great responsibility and TV is a strong medium. I like to use that platform in a positive way. I look at my personal journey where people told me I would never make it, I would not act anywhere in the country, I would be nothing more than useless, for example.
“For me, that was a challenge to succeed. I looked at it as a positive thing because I knew I was destined for greater things. That’s what I like about Generations. It is an aspirational show. And it paints young black individuals in a positive light.”
During the interview, he spoke with such passion and commitment that you couldn’t help but salute him for his principles and talent. He ends with: “For me, it is not about going back or not going back as the industry is an oyster. Like I say, even from the collective (referring to the Generations Actors Guild), everyone wants to go back.
“With a soapie, you find a family. And you become part of that family when it grows, when someone stumbles, when someone cries…”
• What’s Behind the Wall? airs on SABC2 every Monday and Tuesday, starting tonight, at 7pm. Kowethu debuts from Monday, October 13, at 8.30pm.