THE NEXT! | THABISO RAMOTSHELA

Thabiso
Creative Director: Ayanda Sithebe, Producer: Felicia Naiwa Sithebe, Concept and Trainee Creative Director: Tumelo Mogoane, Article by: Karabo Mokoena, Photographer: Katlego Mokubyane, Wardrobe: Rirhandzu Phanga, Makeup Artists: Glenda Mhlongo & Mamello Mokhele, Production Team: Tshepo Marema, Glen Nkuna, Bonolo Maswanganye, Tumelo Mochochoko, Zintle Dingilizwe & Koketso Modisapudi

Thabiso Ramotshela: The Innovator

Thabiso Ramotshela is an actor and model whose impeccable acting skills have won the hearts of South Africans. His portrayal of Morena on The River has garnered him a great supporting network of audience members. This role drew significant attention to his life, prompting questions about his journey before stepping into the limelight. We’ve seen Thabiso playing many roles, currently as Mahlatsi Maleka on Youngins, an intelligent young man who challenges the status quo and takes his marks far too seriously—far from the stereotypical nerdy pushover.

Thabiso’s innovative approach to acting sets him apart. His performances are dynamic and captivating, consistently drawing audiences into the worlds he creates on screen. Beyond his acting, Thabiso is a heartfelt speaker with profound opinions and ideas, often sharing insights that resonate deeply with young people.

Thabiso’s journey in the entertainment industry exemplifies the forward-thinking spirit of South African youth. His creativity and willingness to explore uncharted territories make him a true pioneer. As he continues to break new ground, Thabiso embodies the innovative and progressive spirit of a new generation of South African actors. You will most likely find him jamming to the sounds of the late Kiernan Forbes while he debriefs from an intense scene.

There’s a consistent calm energy that fills the room as Thabiso joins us on the couch. He leans in, his body language indicates a sense of readiness and preparation. After a few laughs here and there, we get into it:

What’s one word you would use to describe this phase/part of your life?

Evolution. I’m evolving into the ideal person I want to be, who I want to be and why I want to be that and that is created by all the pain, happiness, joy, discouragement and fortune I’ve received from the Most High God. So everything I’ve gone through so far has led me to understand that whatever it is that I’m going through in this moment, especially even sitting in this room, being a part of this amazing project, is part of the evolution of where I want to be and who I want to be.

Thabiso Ramotshela Image by Katlego Mokubyane for Actor Spaces

So, you just received the news that you are going to be celebrated as part of “THE NEXT!” What was your initial reaction and what does it mean to you to be part of that cohort?

For me, it’s all about being a part of history in the making as well as showcasing my empire and legacy, but in the same breath giving back to the youth and helping them understand who they are and who they desire to be. One thing I love about Actor Spaces and The Next is the fact that they dwell into what people fear the most and that is being different. We fear what is not normal or what is deemed as society’s perfection. So the minute you voice your opinion or you voice the way you feel they say you’re crazy. So with The Next, based on what I’ve seen, the concept they focus on is just about the freedom of being yourself, the freedom of being an artist, the freedom of knowing that you are a canvas. It’s based on creation and evolution in that sense. So being a part of this project is quite extraordinary. When I received that call, I was the happiest kid. I was on the phone call with my mother and we were talking about other things then next thing you know my agent Anna is calling me and she was like “Hey look you’re going to be a part of The Next, are you excited?” At that moment it didn’t sink in but I knew for a fact it was just God, that’s it. So all glory goes to God.

This campaign speaks to young actors who will most likely create an impact as it pertains to the future of this industry. As an actor, what do you think makes you stand out in your craft?

Being crazy and being unapologetic. It is also about always telling myself and believing that I am the greatest of my generation and I am the greatest to set foot in my industry in my generation. So I grew up listening and watching people like Michael Jackson, Kanye West, the people that were deemed the greatest in certain moments. I always just dreamt of being one of the greatest. I’m not afraid to create. I’m not afraid to step into what people fear the most, and that’s the mind. I’m not afraid to go through that trauma again. Nor am I afraid to kind of sacrifice myself on the altar for the kids to have a voice, feel what they need to feel. I study the craft to the T. I study it and then I add my own thing. I add music to it. I add modeling poses to it. I add animals to it. I add a lot of things to just create a perfect concept for kids to kind of follow into. So I think giving back and being crazy is what makes me different from everybody else.

What does acting do for you that you could never find in anything else?

It allows me to bring a smile to people’s faces. It’s not even about fame. I know a lot of people say that, but for me personally, it was never about that. What is fun about it is that I get to learn. I never liked learning in school. I was never the best student in my class. But the minute I fell in love with acting, I learned from that. And being able to hear people in my family giving me ideas on how to play certain characters has really been a great thing to experience. Every character I’ve played is basically a reflection of who I’ve been around. My dad grew up struggling. My dad grew up hating himself. My dad grew up not knowing where he stands with the world. So having to see my dad cry right in front of me because of the scenes that he’s seen me in and he can relate to it, that’s enough for me. That’s everything I wanted to do for everybody. It’s basically just being the remedy for all the broken hearts. So yeah, that’s all I’ve always wanted to do. That’s what acting is for me. It’s not about the awards or anything like that. I mean, those are nice and everything. But people chanting your name, saying “you saved me”, “you changed my life”. That’s everything to me. That is absolutely beautiful. I’m not going to lie. That is everything.

What do you remember about the day you went to audition for the role of Morena? Did you walk away feeling very confident about it?

Wow, okay. So the craziest thing is the amount of people that auditioned for Morena. If I’m not wrong, I think I got there and there were like at least a hundred people outside of the room. I was anxious. I didn’t think I had a chance because it was my first audition for my first role. The fact that I got a call back was amazing. But anyway, I just got into the room and Paddy Mash was the Casting Director. When I walked into the room, I felt so intimidated by his presence. He asked me some questions about myself and then he said I must play it. So, I was auditioning with this guy. I was really nervous and he just calmed me down. He said if it doesn’t go my way then there’ll be plenty more to come. When my audition started, for some odd reason I didn’t remember any lines but it was such a God moment. It made sense. Everything just came together. A character in me just came out that I did not understand. And Paddy just looked at me with a smile on his face and word is that it is hard to get Paddy to smile in the audition room. On my way home I wasn’t sure what had happened. The next morning, I felt compelled by the holy spirit to charge my mum’s phone and in a few hours my mother came to me crying and telling me that I got the role.

 

How would you describe your evolution as an actor over the years? What do you know now that you did not know two years ago?

I know now that everything happens for a reason. It is not about what you’re dealt with but it is about how you deal with it. And I had to learn that through being on one of the biggest sets in South African history which is The River. It wasn’t easy because I was really challenged to grow. Through that, I learnt discipline, honor and that everything is like a magnet- whatever you apply your mind to, you shall attract. And that’s because I was around people who were twice my age and I learnt how to be a better performer through them. Now, I actually sit back and I’m grateful for that experience because it truly shaped who I am as a performer today.

What is the best feedback you have ever received as it relates to your craft? Who was it from and how did it impact you?

I’ve had a lot of feedback from a lot of people. But one that really stood out was from Thembinkosi Mthembu and Sindi Dlathu because I really admire them. They watched the show and they both said “Buckle up and get ready for Hollywood boy” and that was it. However, it meant the most when it came from my mother. My mother has a great sense of things. So, when she says something, I know to believe her. I waited such a long time to get the approval from my mother. At the beginning of this year, when I moved into my place, my mum called me and she was crying then she said “Buckle up and get ready for Hollywood son” and that’s when I knew that it must certainly be written in the stars.

What practices have you put in place for yourself as a performer that are non-negotiable?

For me, it’s showing up prepared and knowing my lines. I also allow myself the freedom to create and live in the moment. It’s also about trusting God’s instincts and going into prayer.

Thabiso Ramotshela Image by Katlego Mokubyane for Actor Spaces

How conscious are you of the digital era and the role it plays within the creative realm? And how have you used that to your advantage?

I’m honestly not sure if I have benefitted anything from social media. I don’t go to it, instead, it comes to me. I’ve never really made it a priority. I believe in my capabilities as an actor and so far, that is what has created an audience for me.

There’s a specific monologue on Youngins where you recite the poem- it has brought about a lot of interaction on social media. How did you prepare for that? And how did you respond to the way the audience reacted to it?

I connect quite personally to the characters that I am given. I think I knew exactly what Mahlatsi was gonna do the minute he got up in front of the class. I created the character from scratch so I knew what the performance for that specific scene was gonna be. Mahlatsi is a protector and he wears his heart on his sleeve, so I knew that that had to come across. Another thing is that the script for that monologue was actually given to me on the day that we shot it. I think it was like seven pages and I sat there and I was like “God, I can’t do this so I’m gonna leave it to you”. When it was finally time, I got up there and I just showed up and everything that was said there literally came from God.

What is your take on youth day? What does it symbolize? And in what way do you think the history of this day has been preserved by the youth of today?

So, I grew up being told one thing about youth day and it always involved apartheid. I think as much as we commemorate the lives of the people who died while fighting for the freedom that we have today, we should also take time to celebrate the legacy that comes with it.

Thabiso Ramotshela image by Katlego Mokubyane for Actor Spaces

 

 

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