Jafta Mamabolo has again been cast as a badass, in e.tv’s Rhythm City. Debashine Thangevelo spoke to the young actor about his inability to escape playing shady characters and his upcoming film projects…

TWENTY-SOMETHING actor Jafta Mamabolo isn’t doing too shabby on the work front. What’s impressive is that he tackles every role with such gusto that his character remains entrenched in minds of viewers.

And while his screen exploits may not be many, they have been impactful. He made his break-through as a young Kunene in the acclaimed homegrown movie, Jerusalema, and kept his foothold in TV with Soul Buddyz, Soul City and Dream World – not forgetting an array of presenting work.

And Mamabolo’s role as the menacing Matthew on SABC1’s Generations went down a treat with aficionados.

He says: “I was there (at Generations) on and off for about three years. I stopped at the end of 2012 and went back briefly last year. After that I did Dream World for SABC1. It was a modern adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Interestingly, he came to bag the role of Bonginkosi Mthombeni, aka Tsetse, in Rhythm City after someone he knew at the soap gave him the details of the open audition. Suffice to say, he nailed it.

On slipping into the skin of a crooked character again, he laughs: “My mother paid for all these expensive English classes and I never get to use it much. For some reason, they keep casting me as the bad boy. For once I just want to get a role where I wear a suit.”

As much as he dislikes the typecasting, the actor seems to revel in playing corrupt characters. After all, a working actor is a happy actor.

Rhythm City’s Tsetse isn’t a carbon copy of Mamabolo’s previous characters. Tsetse has a bit more charm.

He nods: “He is a very disarming character. Because he has been on the streets for so long he learnt to charm people for his day-to-day survival. He knows you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So in that aspect, this character is different.”

Most of Mamabolo’s scenes are shot with former Idols SA contestant Dumisani Masilela, who plays Sifiso.

The actor tells me they have been friends for about two years, so it made working together a breeze.

“Dumi is quite fun. I’m the only person who is his age on set. And I met him right after Idols.

“He is a cool guy and an eager beaver. And he is loud. A much louder version of me,” he shares.

All this time, though, Mamabolo insists he is a quiet guy. But he is betrayed by his constant quips.

As for his wardrobe, he says: “It’s like… oh wow! When Tsetse first comes on screen, he is out there. It has toned down a little bit. Did you ever watch Zoolander? It’s like homeless chic.

“It hasn’t transformed much because, obviously, he is still hustling. He just looks cleaner. And if anyone says I went method, they are lying,” he laughs.”

His character aside, the young man admits he is impressed by how the Rhythm City team operate.

He praises: “Rhythm City is basically like a film, but it is done with multi-cams and shot indoors. The people have been incredibly welcoming.”

Next on the stylish actor’s itinerary is Andani & The Mechanic, a coming-of-age tale, directed by Sara Blecher, whom he has worked with on other projects.

Of his character in the film, he says: “I play the younger brother of the title character. He is a hakuna matata kind of guy –incredibly loving and trusting – which is played up a lot as he gets betrayed.”

Mamabolo admits to being chuffed about working with Blecher again. After calling her his “muse” he revealed that she will also direct a film he is writing.

He is hoping, once he is done with the shoot for Andani & The Mechanic of course, that Rhythm City will have him back for further storylines.

For now, though, this rising star will be seen on our TV screens for the next six months.


l Jafta Mamabolo debuts in e.tv’s Rhythm City on Wednesday, February 26 at 6.30pm.