The Queen’s Joe Kazadi on the darkest time in his life as a homeless man


It took being homeless in the streets of Johannesburg for actor, Joe Kazadi (28), to get to see his dream of being an actor come alive.

Sleepless nights with rats in an abandoned building and cardboard as his bed blanket became all he knew in a bid to make a name for himself in the city of lights - Johannesburg. Years later, he is part of the acclaimed telenovela, The Queen, where he shares a production with the finest talent in Mzansi.


Life for Joe, better known as Thabiso on The Queen, was not at all rosy. He grew up in Congo but when he was 12 years old, he moved to Durban with his mother and siblings. “When I was 18 years old, I started working as a chef,” he says.

Just about a year into the job, Joe says a patron at the restaurant suggested that he try out modelling. “She said that I didn’t belong there and I had the body and looks of a model,” he says. With nothing to lose, he decided to give her suggestion a try.

He signed up to a modelling agency and within months got his first gig. “It paid me way more than what I was getting as a chef. I decided to take a leap of faith and move to Johannesburg in 2009 and see how far this would go,” he says. Joe had nothing to lose, especially because he was already fired at work.


Without a cent in his pocket, he had an unplanned trip to embark on. “I asked a friend for money and he gave me R120,” he says. This was not enough for the bus fare but after pleading with a generous bus driver, he agreed to let Joe sit in the trailer, where luggage was.

“He would come check up on me when the bus stopped along the way. I was squashed in there but made it safely to Jozi,” Joe adds.

“I slept in an abandoned building with rats creeping all over my body. That was definitely the darkest time of my life. But that experience made me numb to fear.” Many viewers might only know him now, but Joe has been on many product in sets, from the time he was an extra. He was an extra for years before making a breakthrough. “It took me 10 years to blow up, but it has been worth the wait,” he says.


Joe plays Thabiso on Mzansi Magic’s telenovela. Apart from this role having been a big deal for him, he says the storyline touches on a very sensitive topic in society. Thabiso raped Goodness, played by Zenande Mfenyane.

 “Where I am from (Congo) rape happens more than it does in South Africa, so it gave me absolute privilege to drive a conversation about this injustice against women,” he says.

“The response to this has been a bit strange in that men are somewhat annoyed with me, maybe because they are not happy that I am exposing it through my character. But women on the other hand embrace me for it.”