Mlamli’s long journey to your TV screen

Mlamli Mangcala

Mlamli Mangcala has kept audiences glued to their screens with his comical yet captivating portrayal of a cowardly police officer, Captain Sithembiso, in popular Mzantsi Magic show, The Queen.

But breaking into the industry was not an easy journey for Mr Mangcala who is not just an actor, presenter, motivational speaker, MC and business man also a qualified radiographer who runs his own practice – Mlamli Diagnostic Centre and X-ray services in Litha Park.

The multi-talented performer has proved to be versatile in this industry and has invested a lot in his craft over the years. He was born in Ashton just outside of Cape Town, where he spent most of his childhood years, raised by his grandmother.

His parents got divorced when he was six years old and in his teenage years Mr Mangcala moved to Kraaifontein and enrolled at Matthew Goniwe High School in Site B.

Having grown up poor, he made a pact with himself that he was going to cut free from the cord of poverty, which he believed could be done through believing in God, and getting an education.

But, failing matric in 1993 knocked his confidence and derailed his plans to further his education.

He then worked as a petrol attendant in Kraaifontein

before getting a job at Shoprite in Bellville in 1996, which proved to be a turning point in his life.

He vividly remembers one day after an incident at work he decided that he needed to go back to school, describing himself as “a prisoner of hope”.

Towards the end of the same year he started at Shoprite, he enrolled at Head Start college in Salt River with the assistance of a close friend with whom he had gone to initiation school.

This, he says, provided him with an opportunity to apply to study a three-year diploma course in radiography at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). It, however, took him nine years to complete his studies. He then moved to the UK in 2004 and worked as supplementary a radiographer for four years.

Acting, however, was something he had started doing at high school already, having made his debut appearance on Unyanya Womuntu, a Xhosa TV drama in 1998.He also did commercials and took on small cameo roles.

He said when he came from the UK he did short drama films for overseas productions.

It was in 2007 that he got his major break when he played seven characters in one show and he got the job. He performed the show at Green Point Stadium from 2007 until 2009.

But he says during that time he also got a role on a documentary called More Than Just A Game commissioned by FIFA. He has also appeared in 90 Plein Street, Matatiele and Intersections.

“My cousin Amanda Quwe who is also a seasoned actress paid for acting trips as she strongly believed in me.

Arts industry is very dangerous industry. You might get a gig today and never get a gig again,” he said.

And, he warned: “Fame is not equal to money.”