Kgosi Mongake on starring on ISONO: “I am dedicating this character to Moonyeen Lee”

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BET's Isono actor Kgosi Mongake .
BET's Isono actor Kgosi Mongake .
Kgosi Mongake / Instagram

He was first introduced to South Africans as the young Andile in the television mini-series Hopeville in 2009.

Since then he’s been spreading his wings and has starred in a number of local TV series, documentaries, and internationally acclaimed feature films such The Bang Bang Club and Invictus.

Now, actor Kgosi Mongake is back doing what he loves as Zakwe in BET Africa’s first original daily drama, ISONO, after a break from our screens.

Read more | FIRST LOOK: Gripping new local drama 'ISONO 'coming to BET Africa

“I love acting, I love doing it and it is what I went to school for. And the fact that I got a role on BET is an overwhelming feeling. At first when my agent called me it felt surreal because I’ve been trying to get a gig for quite a long time.”

It feels good to be back, he says.

“I sometimes forget that I’m appearing alongside big names such as Khulu Skenjana and mam’ Nthati Moshesh.”

Read more | Sandile Mahlangu on joining Scandal!: “I was one month away from not being able to pay rent”

Life has been tough on young Zakwe, but he has proven to be tougher. On ISONO, viewers will get a chance to see the world unfold through his eyes.

“Zakwe is a teenager, and a lost soul from the streets until he is introduced to the main character, Mam’Mary (played by Ntathi Moshesh).

“From there, he experiences certain things for the first time – a home and a place of safety. Zakwe takes viewers on his journey from the streets, going to school, to falling in love and how he finally detaches from who he was before ‘finding a home’ and becoming a more stable person,” Kgosi says.

“Every time when you see him there’s something new with him. He’s a very versatile character; rebellious, humorous but one character that viewers will get to know as more and more layers of him are revealed.”

He loves getting the chance to play this versatile teenager, even though he hasn’t been a teen in years.

“Whenever I act or portray a character, I always keep in mind the fact that there’s always something you borrow from yourself as an actor. So there’s things that I borrowed from Kgosi and it’s a pleasure being the vessel that gets to tell his story.

“I hope that South Africa and the rest of the world, since its’ going to be on an international platform, and other black boys relate to the story. I know that my job is to bring light on the series, either through laughter or just in the telling of his story.”

The show was set to premiere on 27 July but was delayed due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus in the country.

It features other heavyweights such as Bongani Gumede, Hamilton Dlamini and Rami Chuene. He’s learning a lot from them, Kgosi says.

“This series is not only an opportunity where I get to tell stories like Zakwe’s on an international scale again, but I have been learning so much from the other actors on the show. Rami and I have quite a few scenes together and I’ve learnt so much from her in this time,” Kgosi says.

Read more | Legendary SA casting director Moonyeen Lee dies from Covid-19 complications

He wouldn’t be where he is without legendary casting director Moonyeen Lee, who recently passed form Covid-19 complications, Kgosi shares.

She believed in him.

“Moonyeen was my everything. She got me a scholarship that launched my acting career. I’m under her agency, I’ve done five international movies and a host of feature films and without her I would never be where I am.

“Even this opportunity on ISONO, when they look at my resume and considered me, it was because of her. Moonyeen is one of the people I will always be grateful for,” Kgosi says.

“She took me out of Gomora and took me to the National School of the Arts and my acting career took flight because of her believing in me. I was devasted when I heard of her passing and it’s painful to thank her now that she is gone”.

He will honour the person she was to him through every character he will portray moving forward.

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