I’ve interviewed Thapelo Mokoena several times over the past few years.
The actor has been honing his craft in a myriad TV shows – aYeYe, Generations, Intersexions, Kota Life Crisis, Mtunzini.com and Isibaya, to name a few – and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
That’s not forgetting his flair for presenting.
However, he isn’t content being in front of the camera.
He wants to build a legacy behind it too. And he’s doing that through his production company, Easy Sunday Productions.
“I’m producing some made-for-TV films for Mzansi Magic. I have been doing so for the past couple of years. I’m also developing a feature film script for the National Film and Video Foundation. It’s my second big feature.”
Mokoena says the project will start in the next 18 months.
“The main part, as a film-maker, an African storyteller and a dream-maker, is constantly championing the SA narrative with my production company.
“It’s important to me, whether we are telling the story for Africa or the world, it needs to be a human story that people can relate to.”
The interview isn’t as much about that, as it is about him bagging the lead in e.tv’s new telenovela, Broken Vows.
He said: “I’ve just wrapped up my nine-year journey with Hunter’s.
Every good thing must come to an end at some point.”
He was fulfilling his mandate with High Rollers, when the project came up.
“I was wrapping up my last weeks on High Rollers. I put in my resignation just before they announced the cancellation of the show.
“By that time, I was already on my way out. All I remember was not being able to find time to go to auditions as I was busy with High Rollers and some corporate stuff in Durban.
“And so on one of the longest days on the soap, I finished just in time to see the Broken Vows people at Clive Morris Productions. It was after hours.”
It wasn’t long before the brief left him excited and even more eager to find out more. He was sold on the script and character.
Peeling back the layers of his character, Uhuru, he says: “I’m one of those actors who is particular about the kind of roles they pick and associate themselves with.
This character brief jumped at me. I was like, man, I have to play him.
“He’s not your typical telenovela or drama-series character. We have definitely not seen a lot of characters like Uhuru on screen.
“To give you an idea of who he is, he is a journalist. He’s somebody who travels the world, covering these stories while being true to the masses.
That is what attracted me to him. He’s nothing like anything I’ve played before. I was not going to play the role of a ladies’ man or pretty boy who ends up with the girl.
“He isn’t prim and proper, in a traditional sense. He might be a sex symbol but not an obvious one.
He is simply a man with a mission. He is against everything corrupt society is about.”
There’s also an interesting back story about his recent assignment in the Congo, where he was looking into a blood diamonds syndicate. Things got a little hairy.
In returning home, he is glad to bond with his mother, sister and adopted sister.
“He comes back to see a long-lost love. The moment they lay eyes on each other, old feelings surface.”
Without letting the cat out of the bag, his love is close to the family. Some might even say, too close for comfort.
Broken Vows revolves around two sister-friends running a wedding-events company. And every day, they straddle that thin line between love and hate.
This telenovela has strategically-placed twists that explore unrequited love, deep dark secrets, shameless lusting and melodrama.
Uhuru plays a huge role in unearthing those twists.
“Being who he is, he has to find a way to unravel the truth, dig deep and find his own truth.”
Oh, he’s also returning for a third season of his Sinawe 72 reality show on e.tv.
Broken Vows debuts on e.tv on Monday, April 10 at 8pm.