Cape Town - For a while he was on top of his game. His role as a successful businessman in one of Mzansi’s most-loved shows helped make him a household name.
Fans couldn’t get enough of the handsome actor who played Phenyo Dlomo in Generations, and every producer wanted a piece of him. Melusi Yeni was flying high and living the good life. But then he was fired from the popular show in 2013.
The actor hasn’t been seen on screen in two years – until now.
Melusi (41) recently joined Imbewu: The Seed and fans are delighted.
DRUM catches up with him at a coffee shop in Musgrave Centre, Durban, in between shooting scenes for the e.tv show.
His face is fuller and his goatee thicker but Melusi still has that megawatt smile capable of melting fans’ hearts. The actor tells us he’s thrilled to be working alongside acting heavyweights Leleti Khumalo and Thembi Mtshali-Jones.
“Working with these legends is amazing. I grew up watching them on TV and today I get to sit and chat with them,” Melusi gushes.
Like Leleti and Thembi, Melusi is a child of KwaMashu. It’s where he went two years ago to pull himself together.
At the time there were reports he’d been hospitalised for poor health, had money problems and had fathered a child he couldn’t maintain. But he’s put the drama that’s dogged him over the past few years firmly behind him. He’s a changed man, he tells us.
“I can now say I’m a fully-grown man. I’ve made mistakes on a personal and business level,” Melusi says.
“But I’ve taken full responsibility.”
The TV heartthrob shares a sober tale of flying too close to the sun. “Playing Phenyo was my major break. I kept growing and reached the peak of my career very quickly. At some point I was living a lavish and unrealistic lifestyle,” he says.
“In my mind I was the coolest guy on Earth, everyone wanted a piece of me.”
Eventually, Melusi says, things caught up with him.
“Jobs were no longer coming my way and when they did they were very slow and paid very little.
“I fell into debt and I couldn’t afford my lifestyle. “It was so bad I couldn’t even pay my car instalments. I had no choice but to take it back to the bank.
“Every day was a struggle. My life was fading away.”
He made a choice to go back home where he found comfort in family, friends and his girlfriend.
“They shielded me from all the negativity,” says Melusi, who isn’t ready to share more about his partner.