Getting to know Muvhango’s Thabelo Makakavhule

2018-03-17 12:56

Johannesburg - Every day after school he heads to the set to play Mudi on Muvhango – and it’s such fun it doesn’t feel like work.

When the school bell rings he parts ways with his friends, who head home to do their homework and play soccer in the street. But for Thabelo Makakavhule, it’s a different story. There’s a car waiting to take him to the set of one of Mzansi’s most popular soapies.

For this nine-year-old, the day’s work is about to begin. 

Thabelo plays Mudi on Muvhango, an old soul viewers were first introduced to when his shrewd businessman father sought custody of him following his mother’s death. The calm and pensive Mudi seems like a mini version of his dad, the fearful KK. But it’s actually a case of the apple falling far from the tree, Thabelo says when we meet him at his home in Dube in the heart of Soweto.

“Mudi has the makings of a businessman, so he’ll probably wind up in business like his father. But unlike his father, Mudi is a real sucker for philanthropy. Una u pfela vhutungu vhathu nahone u funesa mafhungo a u takula tshitshavha (He has ubuntu and loves empowering people).

“He’s the sort of guy you’re likely to see helping out at a soup kitchen, the kind of guy who sticks up for the poor, a world-peace kind of guy with a desire to clothe and feed the needy. So he’ll be a businessman with a conscience.

“Perhaps – and I might be speaking too soon – that’ll be the source of conflict between him and his father,” says the young actor.

Casually clad in jeans and a hoodie, Thabelo seems more fresh-faced than the boy we see on TV, but he’s as eloquent as his character.

“He’s always been talkative,” says his mom, Karabelo Qhobela (39), who’s sitting in on the interview. “When he was about four years old he could pronounce English words. He could also read very well from a young age. It’s almost as if it was written in the stars that he’d wind up in the performing arts.”

The child actor joined Muvhango a little over eleven months ago and quickly endeared himself to fans who can’t get enough of his rapport with his on-screen father, played by Macdonald Ndou. Thabelo’s character was conceptualised when the show’s writers wanted to reveal a different side to KK’s cunning, cut-throat character.

He beat 15 other aspiring child actors to bag the coveted role and the show’s producers can’t stop praising the young star.

“He’s so much at home,” says Amanda Ngudle, the show’s publicist. “He goes through his lines like an old hand.” Thabelo couldn’t be happier. “It’s great being part of the cast and interacting with experienced actors. It’s all new to me but I love going to the set and working on our scenes.”

 Thabelo was born in Soweto to a working-class family. His dad, Langanani Makakavhule (52), works for the Gauteng department of health while his mom is a housewife. He’s the second eldest of five children – Vele (14), Dakalo (7), Lutendo (3) and baby Rofhiwa (3 weeks). The acting bug has bitten Thabelo, a grade four pupil at Tsumbedzo Primary School, hard.

“My agent, Ntuwiseni Mulaudzi, who is also the headmaster of my school, was instrumental in getting me into acting,” he explains. “Last September he got word that Muvhango was looking for a nine-year-old boy to play Mudi.

Before I knew it we were at auditions at the SABC. They gave us scripts to read and Macdonald conducted the whole audition.” Thabelo had long been a fan of Muvhango and Macdonald had always been his favourite actor but he says he wasn’t nervous to audition for him.

“I read for my part and left. There were callbacks and I went again. This time Ndalamo [Lesley Musina] conducted the audition. I read for my part and I was getting ready to leave when my agent got a call to say I got the job. “I was so happy. We had to go to the production office immediately to get the script and start working on my part.”

“His gift of the gab got him this job,” Karabelo interjects. “He’s a great mixer. He’s not scared of crowds. I always knew he’d end up in showbiz or entertainment. This job is his first gig and he hasn’t had any formal training.”

Although viewers were only introduced to Mudi in February, he started working on the character in October last year.

“The first time I saw myself act on TV was a mixed blessing,” Thabelo says.

“I was happy, but not too happy because the very first performance wasn’t that great. But after the first episode I

Despite Thabelo’s misgivings, it was a proud moment for his father. “I was so happy because he’s the first person in my family to appear on TV. He’s the first celebrity in the family. I was so happy for him. But as much as I’m happy with his TV work, I also encourage him to concentrate on his education.”

He may be a rising star but away from the set – the lights, camera and action – Thabelo is a regular kasi kid who enjoys spending time with his friends. “It’s interesting to play KK’s son all right, but not much has changed in real life.

Other kids get curious about my TV gig. They ask me about the job and what it feels like. I try to answer all their questions but not much else has changed.” He still attends school every day and shoots his scenes after the final bell has rung. “Shoots take anything from an hour to three hours. I only do afternoon gigs unless I’m on holiday. The production people come fetch me after school and sometimes we only shoot for an hour because everyone tries to accommodate me.”

Thabelo won’t tell us how much he’s made since joining the show but says the money comes in handy.

“A touch screen phone is probably the most expensive thing I’ve bought for myself since I started earning money,” he says.

“Knowing I can buy data for my phone is great!” He also gives some of his earnings to his family. Apart from growing fame and some money on the side, he describes himself as “just a normal boy”. “Half the time I’m usually out loafing around with my friends. We play a lot of soccer and I also enjoy running,” says Thabelo, who excels at school athletics. If he doesn’t choose acting as a career he may become a professional athlete, he says.

 “I have my life ahead of me so I can take my time thinking about it. It’s too early to decide on anything yet.”

PHOTOS: Papi Morake

Read more on:    tv  |  muvhango

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