WANDILE MOLEBATSI (Muntu Ndebele)
Wandile has been involved in the South African television and film industry for the last fifteen years. He began his career in commercials as a young child with brands like Rice Krispies, Wimpy and Bakers Tennis Biscuits. During this Wandile also worked on numerous films like Born Free ( A New Adventure), Cry the Beloved Country, The Lil’ Misfits amongst other. This was followed by a many years at Mnet’s KTV as a kids presenter. While at KTV Wandile began his career in music with the band UJU.
With a career that began in a small rehearsal room in Johannesburg’s Newtown district 6 years ago, the band has attracted an eclectic underground following and critical acclaim from numerous dailies, magazines and electronic media. The band has played in both small venues and festivals. The band’s debut album FREE was released on the 3rd of April 2010 under the Sony Music Label.
Alongside Wandile’s love for music has been the growth in his acting career with the challenging roles that he has played leading in numerous local and international dramas like: Soul City, When We Were Black, ER, Life is Wild, Intersextions, Rhythm City and Skeem.
Wandile is currently playing Blessing in the new MNET Soap, The Wild.
JASON HARTMAN (Norman Knox)
One of South Africa’s most successful and promising Idols winners, Jason portrays the role of Norman Knox – one of the real-life child actors who starred in e’Lollipop-, says that during his Idols adventure, acting was not even a consideration. “I received a call from film producer André Pieterse soon after Idols was over. He had seen me on the reality TV show and was really impressed by the way that I handled the whole situation when Sasha-Lee was first announced as winner, only to be revealed soon after that M-Net made an error and that I actually received the most votes. This resulted in us both being crowned as the 2009 Idols winners and I was more than willing to share the honor with Sasha-Lee, which really impressed André. He also added that I had a wild look in my eyes, which he was adamant would be perfect for playing the role of Norman,” Jason says.
With no acting experience, and a very busy schedule, Jason was skeptical at first. “I had my doubts at first whether I could pull it off, but what an opportunity! I loved it! My first and only acting experience was the front end of a horse in a school play when I was 12.” But always up for a challenge, Jason accepted the role. “I just played every situation out as if it was real. There were some intense moments in the film where I had to go deep emotionally, but I was able to tap in relatively easily because of the hard times I had been through in my own life. And what an incredible journey it has been! I got to know how it all worked and was in the zone rather quickly. Thankfully, Idols taught me a lot about being in front of the cameras and dealing with pressure.”
Canadian director of A Million Colours Peter Bishai says he was initially cautious when he learnt that Jason was an ‘Idol’. “But, during his audition I was blown away by the naturalness of his performance in the audition. He wasn’t self-conscious which is the number one mark of a true actor. He has a pure instinct.”
Jason says that watching the entire crew work together to create a motion picture was enlightening. “Everything was so organized and ran like clockwork – I got along so well with everyone. Looking back, those were some really incredible times. I especially think the stunt scenes were some of the highlights as they were awesome – we did some hectic fight scenes and I loved working with the professionals.”
However, with demands as a performer thanks to his Idols win, time was also an issue for Jason. “I’ll never forget those working hours. I was touring the country opening for Kelly Clarkson and had to keep to a tight schedule. I had to rehearse and sometimes worked up to 20 hours a day. It was really tough, but I managed to pull through in the end,” he says.
Although he is enjoying tremendous success as a musician, singer and songwriter, the acting bug has definitely bitten Jason. “I loved the whole experience and would jump at another acting opportunity.”
He recalls fondly when he first saw e’Lollipop at school at the age of nine. “I really loved the movie. To this day, I remember that tyre scene so well when the character that Norman portrayed got hurt and was at death’s door.”
Jason was born in 1979 and was raised in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg as a result of his parents’ (Sam and Lyn Hartman) divorce. Attending boarding school in the Midlands, he excelled at sport, but his love of music was very evident from a very young age. “My father always played in bands on a part time basis, whilst running his business interests. After I matriculated, together with my younger brother Scott and my dad, we formed a band. We spent the following ten years intermittently eking out a living on the road and playing for corporate functions,” he reminisces.
“I was 29, somewhat disillusioned with the music industry, when I decided to give Idols a bash. It was my last chance due to the cut-off age of 30. My initial confidence soon began to wane when the contestants were whittled down to 100. There were some of the best singers I’d ever heard,” he says. However, Jason went on to make it through each week (without ever landing in the bottom three) after which he walked away as joint-winner with Sasha-Lee Davids in May 2009. Although Sasha-Lee was initially announced as the Idols winner, broadcaster M-Net publicly admitted that a mistake was made as not all text messages sent before the cut-off time were received in time (with Jason in the end receiving 54% of the total votes). “M-Net decided that as the results were so close, with only a 200 000 votes difference, the fair thing to do would be to declare it a tie. And so we made world history as it was the first time worldwide that two people won the Idols competition together!”
Since 2009, Jason has made a whirlwind of appearances, gigs and tours playing in almost every town and province in SA and Namibia. His first single, “Break the Silence”, topped the radio charts across the country (including the Nokia Top 40 SA). His debut album “On The Run” (released in 2009 by Sony SA) featured songs that he mostly wrote and performed himself, achieving similar chart success with subsequent singles released. He was also the opening act for US Idol Kelly Clarkson during her South African tour, amongst others.
After receiving the Freedom of the Town of Howick alongside Pixie Bennett, with the last person achieving this being former SA President Nelson Mandela, it was not the last time that Jason and Madiba would have something in common. A Million Colours also heavily focuses on the time period prior to and after Mandela was released from prison and became the leader of the Rainbow Nation, effectively bringing an end to Apartheid.
Describing himself as “just an authentic, down-to-earth guy who happens to be muso”, there is no doubt that Jason will creep even deeper into the hearts of new and existing fans with his powerful portrayal in A Million Colours.
MASELLO MOTANA (Sabela)
Masello is a multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary artist who is most popularly known for her television work. She has appeared in the South African Emmy nominated TV drama “Home Affairs” and the multi award winning daily series “Isidingo” and she recently appeared in an international mini series, “Rough”. she has also appeared in “Yizo Yizo 3”, “Justice for all” and “Scandal”. She recently presented two seasons of SABC 2’s arts and culture magazine programme “Artcha”.
Motana is a published poet who represented South Africa at the “Poetry Africa 2006”. She was also the featured poet at Letta Mbulu’s “Music in the Air 2003” concert where she also opened for Busi Mhlongo. She opened for Sibongile Khumalo at the launch of the "Eskia Mphahlele Foundation".
Her work has been published in anthologies such as “New Horizons- an Anthology of African verse” and “Timbila”. Her prose work has been published in “Chimurenga”, “Rage” and “Real Magazine.”
She is also passionate about language development and translates and consults on the 3 Sotho languages.
She is also a sought after jazz vocalist who performed for Bill Clinton at the gala dinner hosted by CNN International Bureau Chief in Johannesburg - Charlayne Hunter-Gault. She is currently working on her debut album which will be out soon. She has performed at various corporate functions such as the “ Newtown women in the arts lunch 2007”.
STELIO SAVANTE (Major Dixon)
Stelio became South Africa's first male SAG award nominee for his role on Ugly Betty in 2007. He recently completed New York charity performances of the 9-11 commemoration play ''110 Stories'', starring opposite Billy Crudup, Katie Holmes, Samuel L Jackson, Melissa Leo, Cynthia Nixon, Jeremy Piven, Tony Shalhoub, & Kathleen Turner. Stelio produced ''110 stories'' and also produced and performed the play's Los Angeles debut at The Geffen Playhouse in 2010, reprising the role of notorious photographer Bolivar Arellano opposite Ed Asner, John Hawkes, Diane Venora and Michael Beach. For his work in this role, he was recently acknowledged alongside Ray Romano, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney on BIO channel's two hour prime-time special "When Pop Culture Saved America: A 9-11 Story". His TV credits also include recurring roles on "Ugly Betty", "My Own Worst Enemy" and memorable guest star roles on "Law & Order SVU, NCIS", "Without A Trace", "Law & Order Criminal Intent", "Suite Life On Deck" & JJ Abram's "Undercovers". Film Credits include "What if", "Corrado", "My Super Ex Girlfriend" & "Astoria". A student of Robert X Modica & Deborah Kampmeier, he has a long list of New York stage credits including "Mortal Coils", "Murder In The First", "Arabian Night" and "The Case Of Kaspar Mayer". His next project is the feature film ''Jimmy'' based on the Robert Whitlow novel with the same title. The film is written and directed by Mark Freiburger. Stelio will also star in "Trust In Her" which he is producing with Tracey Edmonds. Stelio co-wrote the drama, now in the late stages of development through Edmond's Our Story Films.
Mpho Osei Tutu
Mpho began acting when he was eight. A familiar face on South African stages and screens, he is also a voice artist who can be heard daily as Gift in the award winning SAFM daily drama Radio Vuka. Mpho is also a screenwriter and has penned episodes of acclaimed local series Rhythm City, The Lab, Hopeville and A Place Called Home. He was also on the directing team of the popular Zone 14, on which he also wrote. A burgeoning independent filmmaker, Mpho has produced a few award winning short films.
On stage, acting roles include Ramabanquo in Pieter-Dirk Uys' MacBeki, Tumi in Paul Slabolepsky's For Your Ears Only, Winston in the South African classic The Island, with which he has toured the UK, the US and Greece, and multiple characters in his self-penned one man show Convincing Carlos.
On screen roles include Charlie in Charlies Hair Salon (Laugh Out Loud), Mpho in InterSEXions and Desmond in the International Emmy Nominated Home Affairs.
Bongeziwe Mabandla was born in a small town called Tsolo outside Umtata in the Eastern Cape in a single parent household. At an early age Bongeziwe showed a great love and passion for music.
He attended the Lady Grey Arts Academy where he was exposed to different art forms and this is also the place where he learnt guitar. Bongeziwe then went to study drama and music at AFDA in 2004 at this stage he started to develop his own style mainly in an unplugged manner. His preferred manner of language in delivery is Xhosa sometimes fusing English.
Bongeziwe’s music has a very heavy folk sound and is very much influenced by the artists like Tracy Chapman, Simphiwe Dana, Jabu Khanyile, and Lauryn Hill.
Matshepo Maleme is a South African actress best known for her starring role as Zandi (short for Zandiswa), a young woman who leaves the Eastern Cape for the Western Cape hoping to make it big in the modelling industry, in the SABC1 drama series Bubomi Sana, in 2004.
She is also known for her role as Mapule in the SABC2 soapie Muvhango and as Bokang in the mini-series After Nine, which aired on SABC1.
She currently stars as smart, streetwise tavern owner Thuli Malinga in the Mzansi Magic telenovela Inkaba, from 2012-2013.
Maleme was born in the Free State in 1980 and spent her first few years with her grandparents before moving to Johannesburg with her parents. She made her debut in Bubomi Sana and later got a role in Muvhango, a Venda drama on SABC2.
In May 2007, the M-Net soapie Egoli cast her in the role of Thuli - a replacement housekeeper for her mother at the Edwards house.
SeSotho is her mother tongue, but she also speaks English and Xhosa