As the smirking devil on Bee (Vanessa Ntlapo) the boxer’s shoulder, Lemogang “Lemo” Tsipa brings a sly menace to the role of Smiley, the underground fight promoter in boxing action series Jab (2016-current). “Smiley is a gangster but not like a hardcore gangster; he’s more business-minded,” says laidback Lemo.
Where is Smiley from? KZN, but he came to Langa (in Cape Town) where he was seen as an outsider and he was bullied. How does he keep respect in the underworld? He does all the talking – then they know that if they mess with him, Smiley’s got his right-hand man named Samson (Patrick Lavisa) who does all the dirty work for him. How did they meet? In high school. Smiley was bullied for being the only Zulu at a Xhosa school (in Langa). Then Samson stopped the bullying. They combined Smiley’s brains and Samson’s strength to build this empire. And why the nickname Smiley? He smiles in situations where you or I wouldn’t. He knew that he was smarter than most of the people around him, so he just smiled when they dominated him because he knew that he’d get revenge. Now he has this conniving, dark energy. What’s key for understanding your character? His intellect. He thinks like a chess master, where he’ll sacrifice one of his pieces to lure you in and once he has you, you’ll do what he wants. What did you think the first time that you dressed as Smiley? He’s old school but still contemporary. His clothes aren’t really in fashion but because they’re well-fitting and well-cut, he looks good. I liked his shoes. I’ve got size 11 feet and it was difficult to find good shoes in my size but they (adidas high tops) were amazing.