Nearly 2 decades ago, Thapelo never thought he would become an actor. He actually attributes his professional acting career to the decision to move to Johannesburg 17 years ago to pursue his studies in… accounting. 

When dreams become reality

“I always had a knack for the performing arts but I wasn’t aware of actual film institutions where I could pursue it as a career until I moved to Joburg and saw all of the opportunities,” says Thapelo. 

Originally from Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Thapelo chose to study accounting because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. 

“I’d just turned 18, a small town boy moving to the big city, and felt pressured to choose a path. Accounting seemed like a promising choice. Once I got to Joburg, I popped into a film school I’d heard about and saw people doing what I wanted to do.”

He currently owns a production company, Easy Sundays Productions, and has played various roles in movies and television series, such as presenting the first season of the South African version of the reality competition Fear Factor in 2005, Cedric Fatani in Wild at Heart and Elias Motsoaledi in the 2013 film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. 

How one book confirmed his career choice

His latest starring role is in the major new M-Net production, Trackers M-Net’s biggest production shot in high definition and one that will air internationally. The 5-part series is based on the South African crime novel of the same name by famed local crime novelist, Deon Meyer. 

“Starring in the adaptation of a book by one of the greatest authors in South Africa is what any actor dreams of,” says Thapelo, who read the book about a year before shooting started. Thapelo plays Quinn Makebe, an ambitious senior intelligence agent in the Presidential Bureau of Intelligence who is trying to prevent a terrorist attack in Cape Town. 

“When the role of Quinn came up, it was exactly what I was looking for – an opportunity to play a complex character. I knew that it would take my career to the next level

“Although I’ve been blessed with many great roles, Trackers is the most riveting production I’ve been part of. It has literally changed my life and it’s all thanks to one of the country’s greatest writers who decided to pen it,” Thapelo says.

Practical advice

“If I could now talk to myself when I was on the verge of switching career paths, I would tell the 18-year-old me one thing: “Stick to your goals and dreams because they are valid.”

When it comes to personal finances, his one piece of advice to anyone who wants to pursue their dream career, is learning to manage their finances as early as possible.

“How you deal with money is a beautiful part of coming of age. By the time I was in film school, I was already working as an actor and trying to understand money better,” he says.

“I’m from KZN and when I got to Joburg, life got real. I had to pay rent and buy groceries and monitor my spending. One thing I wish I’d known earlier was how money works and how to make it work for you.”

Simplify your studies. Live better.

Thapelo’s success is proof that pursuing your dreams pays off. What are your dreams for your career? Whatever it is, set realistic, time-bound goals to help build the life and career you want. 

Capitec clients get 50% off Educate24 online courses and R4 000 off GetSmarter course fees, helping you reach your career goals. Time is more valuable than money, so start now and take this advice from Thapelo: “If you have a big dream for your life, keep moving toward it and never forget why you want it.”

This post and content is written, sponsored and provided by Capitec.