Thapelo Mokoena: The toast of the town

Actor and now businessperson Thapelo Mokoena is enjoying a hot streak with success in the world of acting and hospitality. Picture: Supplied
Actor and now businessperson Thapelo Mokoena is enjoying a hot streak with success in the world of acting and hospitality. Picture: Supplied

Actor and filmmaker Thapelo Mokoena has had an enterprising end to 2019, and a promising beginning to the new year.

The actor from M-Net’s recent successful miniseries Trackers, which brought author Deon Meyer’s tale of terrorism and crime to life, has opened the doors of a beer tap room and eatery in Cape Town called Ukhamba Beerworx & Taproom.

This week he announced that he's joining the cast of UK series, Bulletproof 3, in which he’ll star alongside Ashley Walters and Noel Kano Clarke of Top Boy fame.

Mokoena says things began to fall in line for him late last year.

“I went to see a casting agent over there about the project, and I started getting introduced to it while I was wrapping up Trackers. It is a really cool concept," Mokoena said.

Asked about the specifics of the third season of the show Bulletproof he very cryptically said: “I play a character, a South African and yeah, so it begins. I cannot tell you too much of the details. It’s a British series and follows the lives of two cops and how they solve crimes day to day. It’ll be interesting to see it play out in South Africa as the story ventures here".

He will be starring alongside Ashley Walters and Noel Kano Clarke, who you might know from the Netflix series Top Boy.

Rather excitedly, he says: “It’s crazy man, the more I’m doing research on their characters in the show and learning about the people behind these, the more impressed I get. We also met recently. They were told that the UK wasn’t ready for two black cops in leading roles and they pushed for it all the same and challenged the norm quite bravely".

On Trackers and bringing the Deon Meyer classic to the small screen?

“Trackers was a complete dream. The number one show of the year, the highest streamed show on Showmax. It was great to know the story was well received and entertaining and enjoyable. It was great to adapt one of our most famous books. I’m sure it is a big reward for Deon Meyer.”

His eatery and tap room were open in time for the holiday rush last year.

Ukhamba Beerworx & Taproom has its own brew and it's with this that Mokoena and his partners looked to pair with an experiential space for their beverage.

He also included proudly African cuisine to this idea.

Mokoena claims to be in the business of people.

“I enjoy going into business with strong individuals who are passionate about what they are doing, masters of the crafts. I was introduced to the Beerworx team and a concept was presented to me and I was hooked when I heard about it and the people behind the product.”

Mokoena explained that the African aura Ukhamba has is what makes it special.

The existential actor is very focused on the human element of his business and the connection he shares with his partners and patrons.

“I want you to come into the taproom and feel like this is a piece of Africa. If you’re a tourist we want you to experience Africa in a dish, in a brew or a grape as my wine is also sold there and our partners the Bosman Family Vineyards.

We will also have J Something’s Gin, Just Gin. He is also an African brother who is excellent at what he does and a friend to me. I am big on collaboration.”

He said he is ooking to the rest of the year.

“The focus is mainly going to be on creating and growing the business venture. The Ukhamba space is an important space surrounded and filled with art energy. It is a haven for me to express myself.

“I can’t promise an Ayeye 2 but you never know”, he said jokingly in reference to the smash hit series Ayeye which he starred in circa 2015.

If the audience wants it he is always open to it but until then, one of the most loved faces on local TV will be focusing on growth by getting a few film-related projects off the ground and, of course, focusing on family.


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