Growing Pains: Karabo Maseko Makes TV Comeback After A Career Stumble

Karabo Maseko (25) ascended to fame as a presenter on eTV’s youth shows, ‘Shiz Live & Craz-e World Live’, but when the channel abruptly pulled the plug on them, he faced a future of uncertainty. Now, he makes a glorious return to TV with a role on the local soapie, ‘Generations: The Legacy’. 

By: Thanduxolo “Thandz” Buti
Image by: @supax360

These days, Karabo cannot conceal his elation about his new role on Generations: The Legacy (SABC 1). But who can blame him; the young man was deep in the threshold of uncertainty after eTV dumped all youth content under Craz-e, in 2019.

“Ngijabul’ukufa (I am so happy I could die),” he tells Blacklight.

“We all grew up on Generations, and most actors have dreamt of being on the show. So, this is quite an honour for me.”

The young star made his debut on the popular prime-time soapie on 15 May, as the charismatic Luyolo. “The character I am playing, Luyolo, is a Rastafari and a doctor – which is quite rare.

“While preparing for the character, I dug deep into the Rastafari lifestyle. In the process I learned to love and respect the religion because I was able to get the ethos of the culture,” he explains.

“Luyolo is a well-travelled guy, and through his travels, he came across Rastafari and decided to adopt the religion. Him being a doctor, he kinda demystifies and debunks the notion of western medicine being the only method of healing. 

“He is just a sunshine and rainbows kind of guy.”

Karabo, cannot be deterred. (Photo by: @supax360)

Karabo cut his teeth as an actor on eTV‘s drama, Isipho: The Gift, which was abruptly canned last year in December. 

The young star says he was left distraught by the sudden ending of the show. “After Isipho ended I went back to my home in Middleburg, Mpumalanga,” he reveals.”I was in the process of moving the rest of my stuff to Mpumalanga when I got the Generations role. So I was able to move back to Johannesburg.

Blacklight: Were you surprised, when ‘Craz-e’ was pulled off the air?
Karabo:
Yes. For me, Craz-e was what YoTV is. I believe we need to have special programmes for the youth. I thought it would be one of those shows that would last forever.

I would say I grew comfortable on the show. Having a monthly income is a rarity in the entertainment industry, so I thought I would leave (the show) only when I was sure that I was leaping forward, or fully cemented myself in the industry. 

Funny! I was planning on leaving at the end of that year because too much of being on a youth show can sometimes block your channels, and I did not want that. I was getting ready to rebrand, but the end of the show forced me into it. 

B: What went through your mind after being told the shows that launched your career would be no more?
K: It was tough, but I did not think it – being unemployed – would last long. I told my agent to put me up for any available auditions. This was new terrain for me. I was with eTV for about four to five years, and I was young. Before, I never had to worry about not having a gig.

It’s tough to be a freelancer in South Africa. The glitz and the fame does not truly reflect the truth about the industry; it’s only a handful of people who get to live comfortably out of freelancing, and its people with years and years of experience. 

Some people think because you are freelancing you get to have multiple jobs, but oftentimes you have one major contract that helps you have some form of security. And when you lose that job, sometimes you have to wait for a long time for another gig – it’s tough. 

Karabo is focused on winning. (Photo by: @supax360)

B: What made you decide to go back home?
K: It’s always tough having to go back home, especially when you were on TV. I am from a small town, and when you come back everybody knows. Just thinking about the chattering (behind your back) in your community can be demotivating. 

At first, I thought it was not going to be for long. I thought I would use the time to reflect, reconnect and re-energise, but when it seemed to last longer than I anticipated, I started getting a little depressed.

I retreated to myself. I could not go outside for weeks on end because I was avoiding crossing paths with some people I grew up with, who now chill by the corners. In such situations, you fear that you will also end up chilling by the corner with nothing to do, and that’s what some people also expect. 

Luckily, I got the role on Isipho, moved back to Jo’burg, but that also ended so abruptly. I went back home again because I could not finance myself. I have a single mother who has worked hard all her life and I never wanted to trouble her by constantly asking for money, so I opted to go home until I could get back on my feet. 

I can respect people who decide to stay in the city and stick it out, but I care about my credit score. I am still planning to have a great future, so I am not going to compromise my credit score, or stress myself while I have a home.

B: How did your mother react to you coming back home?
K:
Every parent wants their child to be successful in whatever they are doing. However, a majority of black parents want their children to have security – and that means pursuing careers like being a doctor, lawyer, teacher etc. They want stability and a proper structure.

My mother is very real with me, but she also reminds me that if things are not working out that I have a home and a family that loves me no matter what. 

As people, we tend to dwell too much on negativity than on people who love and appreciate us.

B: What did you uncover about yourself, during that period of being home?
K: It taught me resilience and patience. Before, I was not patient; I always wanted things to happen now. I don’t like uncertainty, but when everything gets quiet you have to constantly remind yourself that everything will be alright. I never had to do that before.

B: How do you deal with criticism in this age of social media?
K:
I believe there is always more love than there is hate. There might be one or two negative people, but usually, it’s a lot of love.

As people, we tend to dwell too much on negativity than on people who love and appreciate us.

I also believe that the best way to learn and be better is by doing, and if you get criticism, it needs to be criticism that builds you, otherwise just keep on moving.

B: What is your motivation?
K: My future motivates me. When all is said and done, I want to leave a name and a legacy for myself. I want to be remembered. I want to build an empire, and eventually, I want to be a household name, locally and internationally. I want to show my family; my mom that she made the right choice by supporting me – ngifuna aphile soft (I want her to live more comfortably).

Karabo loves playing Luyolo on Generations: The Legacy’. (Photo by: @supax360)

My friends also motivate me. When you are surrounded by people who are progressing in life, you are forced to also do better with your life. It’s not even envying; it’s just seeing your peers doing great and being motivated to step up as well. 

B: What do you think makes you so special?
K:
I am always willing to learn, and everyone I have worked with can attest to that. Whenever I get constructive criticism, I lap it up and soak it in.

I don’t make the same mistake twice – I always do better. I love being good at something and winning. I grew up as an athlete, so that drive is still embedded in me. I want to keep getting better and better.

B: What advice would you give to people who are currently in a place of uncertainty?
K: We live in a time of great uncertainty and it’s hard to just ‘live’, let alone tackle the root of our uncertainty. There is also social media depression. I never thought we would live in such a time where there is something such as social media depression. 

You go on your phone and you see people living their best lives, forgetting that everything is filtered. People don’t live the way they present themselves on social media, that is why I don’t allow social media to define me. I like what it does for my work, but I am also able to switch off completely.

The best thing one can do in moments of uncertainty is to reflect. Remind yourself where you come from, how far you have come, and why you are doing whatever you are doing – that will make you certain about what comes next. Reflection and introspection are key, because they help you see all sides to every situation. 

Catch Karabo on ‘Generations: The Legacy’, every weekday at 20h00, on SABC 1. 

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