Man Oh Man – Oros Mampofu
The Scam’s Oros Mampofu, 29, on growing up as a pastor’s kid, finding purpose in fatherhood and navigating showbiz
People asking me what my real name is, is always a great ice-breaker. They find it weird when I say, ‘it’s Oros and that’s the second name on my ID.’ Nkhokheli is my first name but I’ve only used it in church — I’ve always been Oros. Growing up in a family home that had its doors open to everyone, no matter where they come from, made me who I am. I learnt to be approachable, warm, welcoming and respectful. It has really helped me in the industry that I’m in.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid came naturally to me because it was all I
knew. It moulded me because of the expectations that came with it and the greatness that was imposed upon me. I grew up knowing that I couldn’t mess up and always had to be a “super-being ”. Luckily, my parents found a balance between having expectations and giving us freedom to be ourselves. This enabled us to find our passions and paths in life. I thought I’d be prepared for the public space because I had grown up under the magnifying glass. I believed that I could take on the world and handle the pressure that comes with being a celebrity, but I was wrong. South Africans can be ruthless; the expectations imposed upon you can be overwhelming. People always seem to focus on the negatives even when you’re doing well. I love my fans, they’re amazing but fame can be a lot. After a few years of taking knocks, I’ve learnt that I’m human too. I now know that bad things happen because you’re human, and not because you’re a bad person. I’ve grown in the entertainment industry and learnt that how I react to situations is the most important thing. Being in the industry with my siblings has been a beautiful journey.
We don’t have any sibling rivalry or competitiveness amongst us, instead, there’s such empathy. We’re all in various stages of our careers and we know when to support one another. We’re lucky and blessed to have similar interests and connect the way we do, so we can do lifestyle activations under our banner –‘The Mampofus’.
Being part of The Scam was very
enjoyable. One of my third-year lecturers, Justin Strydom, was my co-star, which was a pleasure and a privilege. He was one of the people who gave me the tools I needed to get into the industry. Playing Monwabisi, who’s stubborn and very different from me, has taught me so much about grief. I have always wanted to portray a character that I can relate to on a cultural level, but that was far removed from who I am. I’ve had characters stick with me, and some in a bad way. I remember I only dealt with anxiety and having emotional dips after playing Jama on Skeem Saam. It was an out-of-body experience to watch my own memorial and funeral service on screen. I couldn’t shake it off. For a good two years, I met people on the streets saying that they thought I was really dead. That messes with your head a little. When going through dark times, I focus on the good. I think to myself, ‘I may not have this but I have my daughter. I may not have that but I have my family and the person that I love’. They are
the fundamentals that pull me through when things get hard – they centre me. The weird thing people don’t know about me is that I save all my original scripts and call sheets from the productions I’ve been a part of. Twenty years down the line, I want to have my own library collection of every project I’ve done and can have stories to tell at get-togethers. [chuckles] It’s part of building my dynasty. Fatherhood has been a real pleasure — my daughter is such a ray of light. It’s been challenging because her mother and I are trying to build this human. I’ve been learning and unlearning habits so she can take on my strengths and not my weaknesses. I’m constantly reassessing things because of her, and I now have a bigger purpose. Losing singer, Nichume Siwundla, has
been heavy on me. But, we’re getting through it as her close circle of friends. It’s not easy losing a friend you’ve known since way back. Her passing has taught me that life is fragile and things can turn around in a split second. I now know we all need help and we shouldn’t bottle things up. We need to learn to talk! A misconception doing the rounds about me is that I’m arrogant. When people meet me, they are usually surprised at how approachable I am. During a conversation, someone would say, ‘Oh, I thought you were some arrogant Cheezboy’ [chuckles].