Isibaya star, Abdul Khoza, gets candid about his acting career, and reveals future plans of stepping behind the camera, as director and writer.
By: Sihle Masuku
Main photo by: Otsile Moloto
Dressed by: Edgarsfashion and Topman
In 2011, at age 24, Abdul was crowned the winner of the television acting competition show, Amstel Class Act, Season 2. Since then, the Durban-born actor has been making great strides.
He now plays one of the most loved and hated characters on television, Qaphela, on Mzansi Magic‘s (DStv 161) hit telenovela, Isibaya.
Despite his lengthy time on the show, Abdul shares that he finds joy in portraying different characters.
“I didn’t go into acting to be just another actor,” he says. “I want to be the most memorable actor, and I always want to challenge myself.”
He continues: “I chose acting because of the challenging, and also exciting, opportunity of having to create a new character, every single day.”
Blacklight spoke to the man about his unconventional rise to stardom.
Blacklight: Are you a person who sets yearly goals?
Abdul: Yes. Each year, there needs to be some form of growth that I must try and achieve, both personally and professionally. For instance, lately, I have been focusing a lot on my music career.
BL: How do you personally measure success?
A: Because our work involves the public, everytime someone compliments me on my performance, on any role, I view that as success. Even if I move or touch one person, with any of my characters, that to me is success.
BL: What led you to enter the ‘Class Act’ competition?
A: For me, Class Act was more of a calling. I was a fireman and we had just come back from an incident and this advert came on TV, and it was the Class Act ad. The following day I decided to go and audition, and the rest is history.
BL: Before being a fireman, you were in the army. What did those experiences teach you about yourself?
A: Those experiences made me realise that I am a very brave person. Being part of such services also taught me a lot of discipline, which is something I use in my acting, today. I have the ability to perform my own stunts and to focus under pressure, and there is a lot of pressure on any set, but you still have to perform at your highest level.
BL: What do you know now, that wish you knew before winning ‘Class Act’?
A: I wish I had known that it’s hard to get credit from a bank, as an artist – whether it’s car finance or a bond. Although now there are more ways of going about it, I wish I had had that financial education quite earlier on in my career.
I also wish I knew about the amount of time that you are taken away from your family, which can be a lot. I left the army to be a fireman so that I can be home with my family, but acting sometimes takes me away from home. Sometimes your loved ones have to suffer for you to be the star.
BL: You are quite a versatile actor, what draws to the characters you get to portray?
A: When I portrayed a gay character on Intersexions, I wanted to stretch myself, as an actor.
Playing someone who lives a double life was quite a challenge because it was like playing two different characters. This was a person who was hiding who he truly was from the world, that’s a tough position to be in.
With Qaphela I get to be dark and I am enjoying the colours that I get to paint with that character.
It’s always a challenge, but I love to be challenged, even physically that’s how I keep fit otherwise training would get boring. So challenging myself is always the option for me.
BL: Where do you draw from when portraying a character that is so different from you?
A: In life, you don’t need to have gone through an experience to know what it’s truly like. You can also share someone else’s experience, through someone telling you their story or through observation. I grew up in the township, and I experienced and obsevered a lot .
If you grew up in the township, there is no way you have never witnessed or experienced a mugging. I am not saying that’s life in every township, but it happens around us.
Living in that kind of environment, you get to see life happening around you. Because of that foundation, it becomes much easier as an actor to be in the moment and to tell the truth because you have seen a lot.
That allows you to become more powerful in your portrayals, and that reaches people on a deeper level because it comes from a real and truthful place.
BL: You and your brother “Sthembiso “SK” Khoza, are both on hit television shows, currently. What is it like to have a sibling in the same industry?
A: We have always done everything together, as kids, but we never dreamt that we would end up in the same career, as adults. We are always supportive of one another.
Even when we were doing martial arts, he would support my fights and I would support his. I also supported him when he broke into the industry, as a presenter, and now he’s evolved into an actor, and I am proud of him.
It’s very exciting to watch my show, and to have his show follow right after. There is no rivalry or competition, because we always knew from an early age that we will always be different.
We are not twins, we have different personalities, and we balance each other out. He knows my weaknesses and he balances them out. We are a good team.
BL: Going forward, what is the bigger vision for Abdul?
A: Going forward, the vision would be to eventually have the opportunity to direct. I would really like to direct because I am a writer, as well.
I would love to direct one of my projects because I really have a good eye when it comes to storytelling.
I also want to see my music reach the masses, because I am making it with the purpose of inspiring the youth and to touch souls that need to be touched.
There are many things I would love to achieve, but those are the most pressing ones, for me.