Cape Town – Africa’s first mainstream superhero will not be decked out in a costume, cape and mask when Jongo makes its debut on TV next week.
The titular character Eli King, is urban, cool, and a hip hop dancer, the type of person you’d least expect to be a superhero.
For Pacou Mutombo, the actor who plays Eli, it’s the case of art imitating life. He is a professional hip hop dancer who has won numerous dance titles and appeared in a variety of television dance shows.
In fact it was his dancing that landed him the role and after being impressed by his natural charisma and charm the producers of the show rewrote the character of Eli to better mirror Pacou.
“It’s the type of story that movies are made of,” says Pacou.
When Pacou was asked by one of his friends to perform at an end of year dance school concert he initially didn’t want to. Little did he know that the performance would lead him to his breakout role.
“After my performance I was so exhausted I rushed to the other side of the hall and as I sat down, I see this guy wearing a cowboy hat, Gareth Crocker, running over to me and he said listen what you did on stage was amazing and we really want to use you for one of the things that we are doing next year,” says Pacou.
And the rest is history.
A comic fan himself playing the first mainstream African superhero is a dream come true.
“I never imagined that a character would be created based on who I am. The minute they told me they wanted to use me to be the first African superhero I was beside myself,” says Pacou.
Pacou describes his character as humble guy just trying to get by. He works in delivery and is trying to save up enough money to open up his own dance studio. When his father is murdered he finds a crystal that gifts him with superhuman strength and speed. He then sets out to find those responsible for his father’s death.
The physicality of the role was made easier due to his dance training.
“I didn’t have to go through much training, dancing really played a big role in the types of things that was expected of my character”, says Pacou.
When it comes to that all important superhero costume, he says it was not the route they wanted to take for the story.
“A costume was originally on the cards, there were even masks designed. But they decided not to go that route as costumes can become very cheesy. My character is a hip hop dancer they wanted to keep it very urban and cool and a costume just wouldn’t fit in with how the story unfolds,” he explains.
If Pacou could have a superpower it would be reading minds.
And who is this superheroes’ favourite superhero?
“I really, really like Goku from Dragon Ball Z,” he says.
Playing a superhero is indeed a life changing experience and Pacou isn’t quite sure how it will impact his life just yet.
“Eli is a good guy who works hard, and has good character and when he gets these superpowers he doesn’t let it change who he is. I hope my role inspires people to stay true to who they are and to keep doing what they doing until the right people see you. That’s what happened to me,” says Pacou.
Watch the trailer here:
Catch the 8-part series from Monday, 15 February on BET (DStv 129) at 21:05 on e.tv on 19 April at 20:30.
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