SHE’S a bubbly young woman who’s spent most of her teenage years in front of cameras, but away from the spotlight, actress Mikateko Hlabangwane (19), who plays Mary Masangwanyi in Scandal!, lives like any ordinary teenager. The teen from Centurion has mastered juggling university and a busy acting schedule.
Mikateko joined the soapie in 2014 when she was only 15. She’s always loved acting, but it was a school teacher who helped her realise her dream when she saw how talented she was, Mikateko tells Move!.
The teacher helped the actress join an acting agency and it wasn’t long before she got the role as Mary. Mikateko can face the pressure of studying and acting because her family and Scandal! colleagues have been supportive.
“Juggling acting and my school work is really tough, but I believe if you genuinely love something you find it in you to make it work. It’s just all about prioritising and at this point, my school work is my priority,” she says.
WHAT A SCANDAL!
She’s Mary’s polar opposite, Mikateko says. Mary is shy and nerdy while Mikateko is more outgoing. “Mary is smart and hardworking – sometimes I wish I was as smart as her. I feel like she’s a very uptight person and unrealistic though,” the engineering student says.
Something she has in common with Mary is their view on men. “Just as Mary is always so concerned whether the person who wants to date her is serious or just full of games, I also wouldn’t want to be in a relationship unless it’s serious.”
Mikateko wants to follow in her aunt Kurisani Mashele’s footsteps. She’s also an engineer. “I have always looked up to my aunt – she is doing so well in life and puts God in everything she does.”
DOING IT ON YOUR OWN
Playing Mary has taught her a lot, Mikateko says. Fans will recall that in the show Mary is a hostess at a club and wanted the job so she could meet high-profile people.
But she got more than she bargained for when she was publicly humiliated after a video of her being intimate with a married man went viral. She tried to commit suicide as a result. The storyline taught her many things, including the realisation that nothing in life comes easy, Mikateko says.
“Girls compromise themselves for the sake of money. A lot of girls need to love and value themselves enough so they don’t end up choosing paths that will lead to their own downfall,” she says. “Girls must stop depending on men. Selling yourself off just so you can get money won’t get you anywhere in life. Just prioritise education.”