"It was the longest audition of my life." - Top Actor Africa winner Jesse Suntele

Written by TVSA Team from the blog Interviews on 25 May 2016
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23-year-old Jesse Suntele took the title of Top Actor Africa in the Season 2 finale on Tuesday (24 May), beating his fellow contenders Alex Khayo and Shamilla Miller.

He won $10,000 (R156,000) and a 12-month contract with international talent agency J. Pervis Talent Agency, which will give him access to Hollywood auditions.

I caught up with him to find out what his next move will be and had a chuckle when he started our convo by describing his experience on the show as being "The longest audition of my life," - because it's true. It lasted 13 weeks!

As you'll see, he took a leap of faith by giving up his role on Ashes to Ashes and the leap paid off for him...

Jesse on set.
Tashi: So how are you going to leverage your win?
Oh geez man, we all know that the creative industry is a fickle industry - today you're hot, tomorrow you're not - so it really depends on all the work that I put in so I have a few things in the pipeline that I want to work on.

I really do want to get into film and I really want to get into series but I think that by the end of this year, if I can get onto a series - that's the plan. That'll be my next step I think. Just to make sure and to convince myself, as well as the public, that I deserve the win. I just need to put in the work and not treat the win as a win but treat it as a foot in the industry.
Series that Jesse would love a role on:
Locally Internationally
Isidingo Sci-fi series like Fringe or The Tomorrow People's telenovelas and dramas Action/crime drama series like CSI and NCIS
Anything on BET Anything on BET

Tashi: What's the story with your role as Kabelo on Ashes to Ashes?
It's a recurring, featured extra role so every now and then when the character comes on he has lines and sometimes he doesn't but I left Ashes to enter Top Actor.

As a creative, people forget about you very quickly so I needed to make sure that my career grows and goes forward and doesn't stay stagnant and I think my character felt very stagnant.

Season 2 came along, the contract and everything were looking the same and as much as I appreciated the role, I had to sit down with myself and decide if I'm willing to do this for longer or take a leap of faith and venture into something that could potentially be bigger, that could solidify my position in the acting world so I took the leap.

It also took up a lot of time - we shot about four days a week, sometimes five - and it was going to be very difficult to juggle the two. I told them, "Listen, I have an opportunity to make something bigger happen in my life," and they totally understood.
Flash fact: Jesse trained as a sound engineer before going into acting.

Tashi: What's your No 1 acting tip? If you were to say, "This is the most important thing you have to do," - what is it?
You know what they always told us on the competition and the thing is... it takes a while to understand what this really means... but my No.1 tip would be: don't act, react.

In real life, when you have a conversation with someone you don't wait for them to finish what they're saying and then have your answer or your reply waiting.

The best thing to do when you're acting is to know your lines obviously but you need to treat the conversation as if it was a normal conversation - only react the way you normally would. Don't have any preconceived notions as to how to take this scene on, just be natural, be yourself.  

I'm quizzy to see what happens with him next. Season 1 winner Altovise Lawrence landed a hosting gig with BET after winning the show and she's debuting on Scandal! soon.

What will happen with Jesse? Watch this space.

Actors in this post: Jesse Suntele

Shows in this post: Top Actor Africa

Channels in this post: BET Africa

1 Comment

25 May 2016 11:37

shamilla should hav won not jesse

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