He was a disruptive child in primary school and as punishment, his teacher made him participate in a school play.
At the time, nobody knew that the punishment would become a calling that would lead him to become a household name.
That little child has grown up and is now the much-loved Ntate Wallet on Skeem Saam, thanks to a teacher's punishment methods.
Actor Molefi Monaisa (47) speaks to Drum about his character on the show and how playing the role has been one of the greatest pleasures of his career. He takes us on a journey of how he went from a Tswana speaking boy in Potchefstroom to the English-speaking Wallet.
Having never set foot in England in real life, Molefi plays the tea drinking, briefcase carrying Ntate Wallet that has nailed a British accent to perfection.
“In his past life as a writer, actor and director, Wallet has been all over the world and spent about 8 or 9 years in England, in his mind he is a native there. Even though he is well read and well-travelled, he squandered it all and had to return home to Turfloop. It is sad that there are people like him who end up sitting in townships with fancy degrees, but they drank themselves into poverty.
“I remember when reading the script for the first time, I was like aah I know this guy. I know many of them. It is sad that people go through such hardship to end up like Wallet. A lot of the times their egos get the better of them and they do not listen to sound advice when they are squandering their wealth.”
Now Wallet has found love in the arms of Evelyn, played by Vele Manenje.
Evelyn is a former schoolteacher who is intelligent and well spoken. She is also a zealous reader with a fondness for poetry.
The two of them started a romantic courtship with their love for reading as the foundation.
“It is so strange to see Wallet in love,” Molefi says. “It is strange because she has been on the show since the first season, and we have never seen this side of him. I am very happy for him and as an actor, it is always important for me to portray him authentically without making him look like a buffoon because he isn’t,” he says.
In real life, there are people who think Molefi cannot speak any vernac because of Wallet.
“Even at shops I have noticed tellers speaking to the previous customer in vernac and when I come through, they speak in English and I’m no man, ke Motswana mos, kea bua (I am Tsawa, I can speak Setswana),” he laughs.
His shy personality makes him avoid large crowds and as a result, he does not even have any social media presence.
“It is intentional, and I prefer it that way.”