Young PE actor and entrepreneur’s star on the rise

Zwelethu Mlonzi
Zwelethu Mlonzi

Port Elizabeth-born actor and entrepreneur Zwelethu Mlonzi is one of the more recent faces to grace South Africa’s hit soapie Generations: The Legacy.

Mlonzi plays Thabo Gumede, a financial adviser with a hint of villainy who is poised to stir things up as his history with the notorious Jack Mabaso surfaces.

The 34-year-old, who was born in New Brighton, said he felt honoured to have joined the cast of one of the country’s most-viewed and loved soapies.

“After I auditioned for the role last year, I got a call saying I had made it,” Mlonzi said.

“I thought I was just going to make a brief appearance, but as days went by at the shoot I realised they were writing in the character, because people loved what Thabo was doing.”

The Bay’s rising star completed a diploma in performing art at the well-known Stage World Theatre School in Port Elizabeth before heading for the bright lights of Cape Town, where he acquired a diploma in film acting at City Varsity Film School in 2006.

Mlonzi chuckles as he recalls his first audition while a student at City Varsity, when he landed the role of a gangster.
“From then on I never stopped auditioning,” he said.

Shortly after graduating he scooped a supporting role at drama series Diver Down as one of several young characters who had to undergo gruelling military training.

However, Mlonzi’s first big break came when he joined SABC1’s drama series, The Interrogation Room, to play the lead role of a police constable.

Mlonzi has been relishing his return to the small screen after a break of several years, having in the meantime founded and developed a media company called Leyo Afrika Media, which is based in Newton Park, Port Elizabeth.

“Leyo Afrika will always be my baby.

“When I moved back home from Johannesburg I saw the need for a company that would change people’s lives through the creative arts and media, so I put the two together,” he said.

One of the goals of Leyo Afrika Media is to enrich communities through dialogue and this is being realised through its online radio portal In4Radio.

The black-owned media company receives support from the Seda ICT Incubator Hub at the Land Building.

Mlonzi said he had a great working relationship with the Incubator Hub.

“As an entrepreneur you may be faced with challenges on a daily basis and Seda has tried its best to ease the journey by providing my company with office space, connectivity and partnerships,” Mlonzi said.

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