Man Oh Man – Mpho Sebeng
MPHO SEBENG, 25, has been acting for 12 years and attributes this long-lasting relationship to his deep-rooted passion for storytelling. The The Throne actor gets candid with us
I almost went into politics, but my studies at Wits University didn’t work out. This happened during the height of the #FeesMustFall movement, which affected my credits badly. I remember going to my lecturer to query my mark on a philosophy test and while there, a stone came flying through the window. I had an epiphany in that moment — I didn’t need that degree because I already had all the knowledge I needed.
Apparently, I’m wise beyond my years. People always describe me as that guy who bumps hip-hop beats, then turns around and quotes great philosophers [chuckles].
I got into acting because growing up, I loved re-enacting whatever played on TV. My granddad worked at Universal, so he’d bring me movies every month. I guess that’s where my love for films stems from. I performed in a play in primary school and my mom invited her friend to come and watch me. The friend referred me to an agency, and I’ve been acting ever since.
My first acting gig was on Zero Tolerance, at age 12. It didn’t feel like work at all because I was on a natural high. It literally felt like I was playing around — and oh, I loved the attention and cookies that I got on set [chuckles]. Acting has been a roller-coaster ride. I’m young, with ample opportunities that lie ahead of me and I’m trying my best not to be typecast. In fact, I’d rather walk away from a production if it isn’t challenging enough. My favourite acting role so far is
a tie between three. I loved playing Nkosi on Saint and Sinners because I could reference a guy I knew in high school, so that made executing his story super fun. I enjoyed the research that went into building my psychopathic character, Lebo on Z’bondiwe. Neo on Ring of Lies was a dream come true lead role. Ring of Lies was my ‘Rocky’
moment. I loved the Rocky franchise and knew everything about it. When Ring of Lies happened, it felt like my prayers were answered because I remembered a conversation I had with a friend just before auditioning for the part. I told him that my biggest wish that year was to take on an athletic role as that would be motivation to start working on my body. Six months later, the Ring of Lies auditions were announced. My relationship with hip-hop is mad real. I love the culture and follow the genre’s key players, both locally and internationally. I love the stories told through the genre, and just thinking about the impact artists like Notorious B.I.G. and
Tupac growing I get out had up, of is my insane. bed dad every had But his I morning also own appreciate music with store. other ease, genres knowing because that each to my day dreams. presents Also, another my mom opportunity would lose her for mind me to if get I were closer to decide to get up not and to wake write up because early [chuckles]. I’d like to develop If I’m not my on own set, scripts I need someday. Not reaching I want to or do exceeding far more than my I full can potential fathom. They is my say biggest when fear. you know that you’re destined for greatness, your potential will complete continue until to you haunt succeed. you. Therefore, you will not rest or feel My friends family are and my the biggest tight circle support of structure. All the friends I regard as close are people I grew up with. They keep me grounded by reminding me who I am because they obviously knew me before the fame. If entertainment didn’t work out, I’d go into business. Or maybe I’d try my hand at being a priest, which is weird because I have a love-hate relationship with Christianity and religion. The hatred is largely informed by the pastors who take advantage of people’s faith, naivety and desperation for salvation. Just like any other black child, my grandmother would drag me to church every Sunday. I still go to church for motivation, not the religious aspect. When everything gets a bit much, I either cry, hit the gym, run or drive out. I let out steam by doing one of these activities.
The last time I cried was when I went through a friendship breakup.
I just couldn’t deal with how things had turned out between us. I always feel everything deeply, which is both a gift and a curse. I used to shy away from crying because it’s supposedly an unmanly thing to do. When I’m feeling really down, I’ll cry because I live in my head a lot and overthink things. Love, for me, is the truth. It encompasses everything because you can get far with money, but further with love.
Being on The Throne has been really awesome. I love playing a commoner, and being in love with someone of royal status mirrors many real-life circumstances that we find ourselves in. Just like with any other thing, in life, where you might not be seen as the perfect fit, go for what you want and infiltrate those spaces regardless. The main lesson I learnt from my character is to triumph over adversity and to never listen to naysayers.