Jesse Suntele
Picture: Instagram
Jesse Suntele Picture: Instagram

Jesse Suntele: 'Youth are challenged with where we fit in'

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Jul 1, 2020

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The multi-talented Jesse Suntele, who won BET's Top Actor competition in 2016, currently stars in’s “Rhythm City” as Nqabayomzi, Suffocate’s long lost son.

He chatted to us about being a young actor on TV.  

Which has been your favourite character so far?

My first ever significant role was when I played a police officer in “The Queen” and it’s the most popular character I played up to now. 

He was a serial killer disguised as a police officer and to date that’s one of my most favourite characters just because of how dynamic the character was, there were so many ranges.  

On the one hand he was this super innocent police officer fighting for justice and on the other he finds a victim and switches into this monster and that was very interesting for me mentally, to see that character come alive.

What type of roles do you enjoy playing on screen? 

I like playing roles that are dynamic, characters that have a side to them that you never see coming. 

I don’t enjoy playing roles that are very predictable as many actors would agree- we don’t like to play characters that are in a box. I like shocking people, shocking myself and playing characters that are outside of my box, if I could put it that way.

Do you prefer younger or older roles? 

It’s kind of a compliment to be offered a character/role that’s older than you. That means you clearly have the skills or mental ability to channel an older person. 

And if you’re asked to play a role that’s younger than you it’s also interesting. It’s quite something to know that someone either views you as younger than you are or that they believe that you can channel an inner younger you.

Your thoughts on Open Up The Industry?

The entertainment industry as a whole has always been a popularity contest to a certain extent and I would like for it to not be a popularity contest and just let work speak for itself.
But the fact of the matter is it’s always been that if the more people like you, the better it is for you in the entertainment industry.

That very problem it makes it difficult for the people who pay and by that I mean the people who put the money up these shows and productions it makes it difficult for them to open up the industry because they make an investment and they want to see a return on that investment, the safest bet for them is to go with a face or an actor/talent that can guarantee them the ROI.

Personally, I would love it if the industry was more open, there’s so much that this industry has to offer for all of us, there’s no such thing as one person failing because somebody else is succeeding and I would like to see a lot more people brought in who have skills all around the industry not just in front of the camera but behind it as well so, yes, agree with #Openuptheindustry.

What are some of the greatest challenges/issues for youth today? 

Identity. I think now more than ever, the youth have the challenge of trying to figure out where in history and where in society they belong. There's a shift in mindset with the youth of today than the youth of yesterday. 

We have a new energy to carry new things, to discover new things, to change things and the challenge we face is getting the rest of the world to agree with us.

But while we carry this energy, the world is still run by older generations of people, in government, corporations and in entertainment. And the things we try to do with our lives aren’t cut and dry as our parents might think they are.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I see myself changing my career to not just in television but television and film, and also my music career is something I’m really focused on, getting out there more, I’d really like to put out some really nice work in the music industry.

Any advice for youngsters? 

We now live in a generation where so much things are possible, the internet was once something that was looked down upon, youngsters need to realise that the power of the internet is the most powerful tool we have in the entire history of the human race and youngsters need to realise that:

Social media is a tool they can use to empower themselves. 

Patience. Sometimes young people have the right formula. They are just not patient or you may be doing the right things but you just stop before you get to your destination, so patience, that’s the key ingredient that will get you towards success.

Your dream role?

I would love to be in a comedy, something very left of the margin like "Insecure" or "Atlanta" and also star in an action film. I’d really like to challenge myself, I’d like to see how I react under the pressure of knowing your lines, knowing your character while under physical strain.

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