It's a moment he will never forget – the day he proposed to the love of his life. Now, they’re expecting their first child and preparing to walk down the aisle. Skeem Saam actor Clement Maosa (31) is living his best life.
And it’s partly thanks to his late friend Akhumzi Jezile, who was at the forefront of planning the special proposal. Akhumzi died the day Clement’s family paid lobola. "We are living on borrowed time. His death really made me value life more," he tells Move! Now he celebrates every moment and is especially eager to be a father.
THE ROAD SO FAR
Family has always been important to Clement. He grew up in a village in Limpopo, raised by both parents. His father, William, worked at a farm and his mother, Girly, was a domestic worker. This meant they spent most of their days away from home, leaving him with his sibling Matilda, who is two years older than him.
His mother died when he was in matric and a month later his father died too. At the time, he was getting ready to start studying towards a law degree at the University of Limpopo. "I attempted suicide twice after losing my parents. I felt like I had nothing to live for. Little did I know that my purpose is bigger." Varsity life also wasn’t easy. "I remember I wouldn’t have money for food. I would eat noodles, at the time when a packet cost R2," he adds.
He persevered and graduated with his LLB. But his passion was for acting. He’s done and enjoyed a few plays in high school. So while completing the final year of his law degree, he decided to try his luck at a few auditions. His first big break in the industry almost didn’t happen because he didn’t have money to make it for auditions in the city of gold.
Read more: Clement Maosa welcomes his baby boy
"I didn’t have money to go. I had no friends and relatives to help me out. I needed about R350. When I told the casting director that I would not be able to make it, I dropped the call and cried the whole night. When the sun rose, I continued to cry," he recalls. Later that night, the casting director called again and told him they still wanted to see him.
"I got money to get to the audition, but I didn’t have any money to get back home. I had to tell the casting director yet again that I had nowhere to go because I didn’t have money." A decision about who was going to get the role would be made that night. They made a plan for him and he was booked into a guesthouse for the night. If he didn’t make it he was going to be on the first taxi back to Limpopo in the morning. "While I was in my room a thick pile of scripts were dropped off. All 13 episodes. I didn’t sleep that night – I fell in love with Kwaito," he says.
ON PLAYING AND RELATING TO HIS CHARACTER, KWAITO
Eight years later he’s a fan favourite on one of the most watched TV shows in Mzansi and has over one million followers on social media. "From Kwaito, I’ve learnt that some times being strong and tough is the only option you have. Because being black comes with its own challenges – not being treated fairly and being made to feel like you’re not enough, especially if you are from the village," he says.
Clement tells us that Kwaito is the epitome of that life. His character grew up without a father and is always envious of his neighbour, T’bose, who had everything. Kwaito was never lucky in life and still needs to take care of his mother and sister. When it comes to struggles, Clement can definitely relate to his character. To those who don’t know his life story, it may seem like he’s had it easy.
But that is far from the truth. "Growing up as a villager, coming to Joburg after losing parents as a teenager and coming into this industry, people don’t take you seriously and call you a village boy.
"I mean, not affording a car and having to get in a taxi and hearing people mock you and saying things like, ‘So this is a celebrity?’"
He’s always about working extra hard to prove he can do it and says it’s not all about the money. "There is this notion that when you are on TV you have got to have money, drive a fancy luxurious car, wear labels some and live the opulent lifestyle," he adds. Someone once actually asked him how much he gets paid. "Even with those ridiculous questions, you have to find a way to be polite and remain humble."
"Everything is a hustle. If you have only one source of income it is not enough," he tells Move! Clement has now ventured into music. He features on the King Monada track, Good Life. And he also has a single called Rhythm of Your Heart.
A lot of his fans were surprised when he ventured into music but it’s always been something he loves. As if that isn’t keeping him busy enough, earlier in the year he summited Kilimanjaro in support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s well-known initiative, Trek4Mandela, that seeks to make a difference in the life of girls.
"I have been giving motivational talks for the past seven years and it is so heart-warming to see how many lives have been touched by my story. Summiting Kilimanjaro resonated well with me. I really wanted to challenge myself and be an inspiration to others.
"It was also affirmation of the message I always preach, that there’s nothing you can’t achieve. That you can make it. Your background does not determine who you are."
Do you need someone to reach out to? Contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 567 567. Their 24-hour helpline is 0800 456 789.