Thembi Seete turns to drugs, booze in new TV role

Singer and actress Thembi Seete during an interview with City Press on her new role in's soapie Rhythm City. Picture: Lerato Sejake
Singer and actress Thembi Seete during an interview with City Press on her new role in's soapie Rhythm City. Picture: Lerato Sejake

TV presenter and well-known singer Thembi Seete is joining soapie Rhythm City, where she will play a drug addict and alcoholic.

Interviewed at a Joburg restaurant on Wednesday, she could barely contain her excitement about her new role.

“I’m playing Bongi, who is in her late thirties. She’s a former child star who was once as big as the late Brenda Fassie or Whitney Houston. Bongi was once larger than life and untouchable, but in the end she loses everything she has worked for,” she said.

Seete started shooting for the series three weeks ago and will make her debut at 7pm on July 30.

She said the showbiz industry came with a lot of fame, money, loneliness and popularity.

“I knew this from an early age, when I was still with kwaito group Boom Shaka. I saw some of the artists who had all of this and lost everything, like Bongi has lost everything – she’s down and out,” she said.

Seete confessed that, growing up as a child star, she was herself faced with temptations such as drugs and alcohol.

“I don’t know how we survived that. I remember very well [the late] Lebo [Mathosa] and I were the only girls at Kalawa Jazmee when it started. But there was never a time when anyone took advantage of us,” she said.

“Our drug was music. We were always worried about our next outfit, hairdo, hit and the competition. Those were the things that kept us drunk.”

Seete said the only similarities between her and Bongi was that they both loved music and fashion and were always fighting to be at the top. But she said playing Bongi had not been easy.

“What makes it more challenging is remembering those artists who lost everything they worked for in their careers. I’ve witnessed people becoming big in the industry and the next moment they have nothing,” she said.

“Not even in a million years did I think I would bring what I saw when I was young into a character,” she said.

“As you know, in this industry it is very hard to find a character who is rich and telling a story many people will relate to. Many musicians and celebrities will relate to this character, not because they have landed in the same situation as Bongi, but because they have witnessed someone close to them going through the same life challenges.”

She said the storyline was entertaining and educational.

“Young people who want to be in the entertainment industry are going to take life lessons from Bongi – that being in showbiz comes with a prize.

“It’s not only about the glitz, glamour or being famous. It’s bigger than that. It comes with a big responsibility to sharpen your craft,” she added.

Seete is not new to acting.

She made her mark by playing Hazel in the hard-hitting SABC1 drama series Yizo Yizo.

She also portrayed Lerato in the SABC1 drama seriesGaz’lam and starred as Nina on the SABC1 soccer drama series Zone 14.

Seete's tips on aging gracefully

. Be comfortable in your own skin

. Have a healthy lifestyle

. Ensure you do a great deal of exercise

. Take good care of your skin

. Make sure you perform the three important skin routines – cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise your face

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