The Queen’s Joe Kazadi on the darkest time in his life as a homeless man
Joe Kazadi. (PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)
It took being homeless in the streets of Johannesburg
for actor, Joe Kazadi (28), to get to see his dream of being an actor come
Sleepless nights with rats in an abandoned
building and cardboard as his bed blanket became all he knew in a bid to make a
name for himself in the city of lights - Johannesburg. Years later, he is part
of the acclaimed telenovela, The Queen, where he shares a production with the
finest talent in Mzansi.
LEAP OF FAITH
Life for Joe, better known as Thabiso on
The Queen, was not at all rosy. He grew up in Congo but when he was 12 years
old, he moved to Durban with his mother and siblings. “When I was 18 years old,
I started working as a chef,” he says.
Just about a year into the job, Joe says a
patron at the restaurant suggested that he try out modelling. “She said that I
didn’t belong there and I had the body and looks of a model,” he says. With
nothing to lose, he decided to give her suggestion a try.
He signed up to a modelling agency and
within months got his first gig. “It paid me way more than what I was getting
as a chef. I decided to take a leap of faith and move to Johannesburg in 2009
and see how far this would go,” he says. Joe had nothing to lose, especially
because he was already fired at work.
Without a cent in his pocket, he had an
unplanned trip to embark on. “I asked a friend for money and he gave me R120,”
he says. This was not enough for the bus fare but after pleading with a
generous bus driver, he agreed to let Joe sit in the trailer, where luggage
“He would come check up on me when the bus
stopped along the way. I was squashed in there but made it safely to Jozi,” Joe
“I slept in an abandoned building with rats
creeping all over my body. That was definitely the darkest time of my life. But
that experience made me numb to fear.” Many viewers might only know him now,
but Joe has been on many product in sets, from the time he was an extra. He was
an extra for years before making a breakthrough. “It took me 10 years to blow up,
but it has been worth the wait,” he says.
Joe plays Thabiso on Mzansi Magic’s
telenovela. Apart from this role having been a big deal for him, he says the
storyline touches on a very sensitive topic in society. Thabiso raped Goodness,
played by Zenande Mfenyane.
“Where I am from (Congo) rape happens more
than it does in South Africa, so it gave me absolute privilege to drive a
conversation about this injustice against women,” he says.
“The response to this has been a bit
strange in that men are somewhat annoyed with me, maybe because they are not
happy that I am exposing it through my character. But women on the other hand embrace me for it.”