‘Adulting’ star Luthando 'BU' Mthembu on his thriving career in the industry

Published Mar 15, 2023


Up-and-coming actor and musician Luthando ‘BU’ Mthembu is working hard on establishing himself as a well-known name in the entertainment industry.

Born in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal, Mthembu, also known as BU the Zulu Vegan, became known to Mzansi as a contestant in the third season of “Big Brother Mzansi”.

He has since gone on to show that he is quite a talented individual with his exploits in music and acting.

The 32-year-old actor has had roles in “Ayeye: Stripped” and “Redemption”, which he auditioned for, something he is a firm believer in, and he has an EP on the way.

Critics might argue that Mthembu is landing his acting gigs because he was on “Big Brother Mzansi”. It's no secret that reality shows are known to be platforms for individuals to kickstart careers in the entertainment industry.

When IOL Entertainment asked Mthembu whether the show afforded him that much-needed visibility to open doors, he said: “Yes and no”.

“Yes, because I was more visible, opening doors, no. It doesn't take you being visible for you to be taken seriously. People only take you seriously if you take yourself seriously,” he explained.

“There were so many contestants in the ‘Big Brother’ house, and not all of them utilised the spotlight in the same manner. I am not comparing myself to anyone. However, I have utilised the spotlight in my manner the way I have wanted to.

“I am proud of how it’s panning out because this is what I wanted. Maybe someone else wanted another thing. I took myself seriously.

“I worked on a craft, sacrificed what needed to be sacrificed and put in the hours, which is the most important thing. Hours don’t lie. The hard work pays off no matter what.

Having quit his corporate job to go for his dreams, it’s safe to say that the hard work is paying off.

In March, Mthembu was announced as part of the cast of “Adulting”, the first Showmax Original from Tshedza Pictures, as toy-boy Vuyani. This is his third role since the competition reality show, a year ago.

Initially, he didn't get the role, it pushed him to go back to the drawing board. He saw an acting coach, and when an opportunity for a second audition came along, he improved.

“He is an immature person. Anything goes. He wears his heart on his sleeve. I have never played an immature character before until now, and I enjoyed tapping into that childlike ability that I didn't know I possessed so well.”

The different sets that he has been a part of have allowed Mthembu to work with talented individuals such as Tina Jaxa, Stha Kgoroge, Themba Ndaba and Rosemary Zimu.

On his journey, he has made connections with different individuals within the industry who have taught him a lot, especially how to hone his skill as an actor.

Mthembu hopes to portray roles that are unorthodox and will not allow viewers to box him.

“I want to play every role, from speaking about apartheid in South Africa as a political figure to play a gangster to play a female even, a role that's just unorthodox. Like a hobo, somebody on the street who worked their way up.

“These are the type of stories that resonate with me the most because they don't allow the viewer to typecast or box me into ‘oh he's gonna act, this what we gonna see.’”

His musical persona, LuDo BU, is a shortened version of his name. Last year, he dropped a hip-hop single, “The Packager”, featuring Sizwe Alakine (formerly Reason). They even released visuals for it.

Collaborations are divine and not in Mthembu’s hands. He explains that even though he may approach an artist hoping to collaborate, things don’t always align.

“I’m trying to relate to you on a human level first, and then we can work together, and they didn't see that.

“I missed the mark with a couple of artists that I did approach. Initially, however, when I finally got to speak to a select few that I did choose to go with, I felt a common hunger.”

In February this year, he released “Repackager”, which features Khaeda, Leezy Lindokuhle, M.E, Pot3nt, Shefsnow and Solo Sae, with visuals being released shortly after.

Having worked with Reason, Mthembu wanted to share the spotlight with other people who would bring something else into his life and vice versa.

“I believe in quantity and quality matching,” he said.

Mthembu is an independent artist but has a distribution deal. He remarks that he finds the question about being signed to a label or being independent funny and doesn’t think it matters.

“I’m signed to myself. I’m not signed to anyone else. My boss is Luthando Mthembu. As an artist, I am LuDo BU, as an actor, I am BU Luthando. I've learnt to compartmentalise and separate the three aspects of me: as a businessman, as an actor and as the brand, the musician.”

The Zulu Vegan is a simple, low-key person who loves going to the park to meditate as a method of relaxation. He is a very spiritual and guided individual and loves gymming, yoga and stretching.

As for what is next, Mthembu is keeping it a secret but notes that his “goals and ambitions are not limited” and, as such, he could be coming with something unpredictable.