Getting to know Thabo Malema – the man driving around SA with 'missing' Kitt

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Actor Thabo Malema.
Actor Thabo Malema.

He is that guy. The Michael Nyathi driving around town with the talking car in a chicken TV ad.

He's even brave enough to take on American movie star, Michael Knight, as he tries to win back his precious Kitt. But Michael Nyathi maintains that Kitt was not stolen and has decided to move to a better life in Mzansi. 

Actor Thabo Malema is having fun with the 'role' he's playing now. 

“Kitt wasn’t taken care of in the States so at the border he found amapiano and Chicken Licken, stoko (women) and thought Mzansi is too colourful so decided that he is not going back. When you get to the place of honey would you go back to the desert?” he says laughing.

We catch up with the actor.

“Please don’t mind me. I am indoors, warm and eating chocolate while we chat,” he quickly explains. 

It is rest day for Thabo, who finished shooting a short film the previous day. There are a few things on the pipeline for him, he tells us.  And he does not mind being busy. 

Read more | Thobani Nzuza on his new role on DiepCity

Recently he has been quite booked and busy. He's worked on Scandal!, the canned telenovela Lithapo and The Estate.

He doesn’t take any of the opportunities for granted, especially in an industry where being too picky about what roles to play isn’t quite a realistic thing to do. 

“I always pray for positivity, positive vibes, favour, work and wealth-unapologetically.

“I am available to any storyteller who has a good story to tell and appreciates my worth,” he says. 

A few months ago, Thabo was playing a Captain Bohang on etv's Scandal, a role he manifested and prayed for. 

“Scandal was one of the best things to have ever happened to me in my career. I had been trying to get into soapies until Scandal! happened,” he says. 

He gave the character his all, especially in light of gender-based violence wreaking havoc in society. He was an abuser on the show. But viewers of the show did not take kindly to his character, even threatening to boycott the soapie. 

“I was broken-hearted. All I want is to be given any role so I can pull it off. Why must I be a half abuser if the character in real life is brutal?

“When people were angry, I was disheartened as they were directing the hatred to the actor and not the character,” he explains.

It was a good thing that ended on an unexpected note and as a result Thabo says he even lost a good working relationship with a separate brand he was working with. 

“Yah neh, the power of social media,” he sighs. 

Read more | From Isibaya to The Estate – actor Sdumo Mtshali on his love for storytelling

All isn’t lost for him. “After all that I drink my rooibos and I pat myself on the back and say well done. If you could provoke them emotionally to a point where it is taken that deep, then you are doing a great job,” he adds. 

It is moments like these in his career that remind him of his why. 

“I don’t treat my craft as a job but rather as a passion,” he says. 

It is more like purpose. He was meant to study electrical engineering. 

“I never saw myself as an engineer. I have always been an entertainer at heart,” Thabo says. 

Although he didn’t know of acting to be a career, he knew he didn’t want to be an electrical engineer. 

“I lied to my parents. They gave me money to apply at a university and they asked how the application process is going. I had to tell them that I did not apply.

“I was in trouble for a bit but here we are, today they are proud of me,” he says. 

Read more | Shona Ferguson reflects on tough beginnings – 'I don’t listen to anybody’s opinion about my life'

In his third year while studying towards his degree in Performing Arts, he landed a role in a Hollywood film shooting in South Africa, Primeval Kill. Two months after that, he was on another international film 10 000 BC. That for Thabo will always be an affirmation of his path in the industry, no matter how tough it gets. 

Having a solid support system has been his treasure throughout the 16 years he's been in showbiz, where the ups and downs are often not predictable. 

“Every artist in one way or another has been frustrated or depressed. In my circumstance, my family was crucial. 

"When I wanted to give up, they refused to give up on me. Meanwhile, when people see you in the streets, they want to see Michael Nyathi who drives Kitt, so if you see me in a taxi tomorrow are you going to judge me?” 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24