Mohale Motaung. Picture: Bab Makhubu

South Africa was first introduced to Mohale Motaung when news broke that he was the mysterious man dating media personality Somizi Mhlongo. 

Fans went crazy when Mhlongo, who has never spoken publicly about any of his relationships, took to Instagram to announce it.

Now more than two years later, Motaung has become a celebrity in his own right after appearing on Mhlongo’s reality show 'Living The Dream With Somizi' and amassing almost 350 000 Instagram followers.

Now the 24-year old is making a name for himself. It was recently announced that Motaung will join the second season of 'MTV Shuga: Down South'. Motaung will feature on the popular series as an openly gay character called Odirile. 

'MTV Shuga' first aired in November 2009 and starred Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. The series has moved from Kenya to Nigeria, where it was named 'MTV Shuga Naija' and has featured stars like Tiwa Savage and Chris Attoh. In 2017 it moved to South Africa.

Following on from a successful first season in South Africa, the new season sees characters like Ipeleng, Q, Zamo and Reggie moving on after graduating high school in Zenzele and trying to navigate their way through the hardships of studying, working and starting businesses in downtown Johannesburg.

Motaung said he had been in Durban when auditions were held, but managed to audition by sending a video. “There was no way I was going to make it to the auditions so I called them and asked if I could send a recording and they agreed. Some time afterwards I got a call back saying the part of Odirile was mine.”

Motaung said he had been fascinated by the script because it would educate young South Africans. “In terms of the character Odirile, he is a business economics student and is very smart. He falls in love with Reggie, but Reggie has not disclosed his sexuality to his friends or family because he is scared.

So there is the issue of coming out. Odirile also supports precautionary HIV medication like PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) so that’s a big theme in his storyline and I really like that because so many people do not even know about PrEP.

“Like me, he is very confident, he likes helping people around him and he is not afraid to speak about sex or his sexuality. He is open and very confident about being a young gay man just like me.

“As an openly gay man, I’m fortunate to have the support of my family and my fiancé, Somizi, but not all South African youth, especially those growing up in conservative and traditional households, experience the same level of acceptance.

“That’s why programmes like MTV Shuga play such a crucial role in informing the youth and helping them realise they are not alone and for me, it’s all about edutainment,” he said. Although this is his first acting gig, the art is something Motaung always wanted to get into and he plans on learning all the ins and outs. “I had friends who studied drama so I often went with them to the State Theatre in Pretoria and I loved it.

“It’s just never had my full attention until now. I am going to take classes with some of the best coaches so that I become better at it,” he said.

MTV Shuga: Down South 2 premieres on Tuesday, February 12 on MTV base (DStv channel 322) at 9.30pm.