Actor Thabo Mkhabela has lit up Mzansi with his role as Leshole Mabitsela on popular soapie Skeem Saam, with the star believing that he will forever be remembered for his character in the same way Connie Ferguson will always be known as Karabo Moroka.
Fame came suddenly for Thabo and he told TshisaLIVE that he was often mobbed by fans who thought his character was real, and who thought they owned him.
“When people meet me on the street they think I am Leshole. They treat me as if I am Leshole. People think they own me. They tell me to jump but forget that I am a real person. I don’t mind it much because I love the role.”
He recounted a time when his character pretended to be someone else online, a practice called catfishing, and he was reprimanded for it by fans in real life.
“They would come to me and shout at me. They would tell me how to behave and tell me what I was doing wasn’t right. They don’t mean harm, they are just excited. But something needs to be done to educate people. They need to know what happens on TV isn’t real.”
He believed the role has set him apart and made sure he will always be remembered in TV folklore for his character.
“I don’t like thinking about the future too much but I think I will always be Leshole. The character will stick with me for the rest of my life, long after I have left Skeem Saam. Something like Karabo. People just like him so much.”
Thabo’s character was once again the talk of social media this week when he again fell on to hard times. Fans were devastated by his misfortune and flooded social media with posts pleading with the show’s writers to give him a break.
I swear if something bad happen to Leshole I'll stop watching skeem Sam.He didn't fast for more problems or skeem Sam writers need to balance us nifuna sithini?huh pic.twitter.com/ogppu98cSM
— Nzulu_lorna mbewu (@MbewuNzulu) February 7, 2018
What did Leshole do to deserve this, @SkeemSaam3 ?
Homie just tryna work himself out of a vicious cycle of poverty and you keep pushing the young man further down, why is that?#SkeemSaam pic.twitter.com/WWmnZHjFxg
— Marvin Gay (@Queen_Finxa) February 8, 2018
Thabo said he felt sorry for Leshole and the bad luck he always has.
“He really was given a rough deal. Whenever he tries to do something right, it just goes wrong. It is an exciting character to play.”
The actor is hesitant to see himself as a celebrity and said the hardest part of being famous was the expectation it created.
“The most frustrating thing is the expectation. People expect you to act a certain way or live a certain way. They expect you to drive a certain car or dress in fancy clothes because you are on TV. You have to make a conscious decision not to fall into that trap. It is not in my nature to be a show-off so that helps me stay humble.”