Mduduzi Mabaso: The humble star behind one of local TV’s most iconic characters

Cape Town - Speaking to Channel24, DStv Mzansi Magic Viewers' Choice Awards 2018 nominee Mduduzi Mabaso looked back on his acting career spanning well over two decades.

Best known for for his starring role as gangster Suffocate on the soapie Rhythm City, his other credits include Five Fingers for Marseilles, Hotel Rwanda alongside Don Cheadle, Catch a Fire, and Blood Diamond alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.

I first met Mduduzi in 2014, and was absolutely blown away by the star's humility and complete professionalism. Despite his high-profile celebrity status, he would always engage with his screaming fans, sign autographs and pose for selfies with everyone who asked him.

And of course, who can miss his impeccable fashion sense. Whether it's a club appearance, road show, red-carpet or media event, the actor is always dressed to impress in a tailored suit, and designer accessories. Even then, he would just brush off compliments as if he 'woke up like dis.'


The award-winning actor received the news of his DStv Mzansi Magic Viewers' Choice Awards nomination while at home, following a long day in studio.

"I think I was a bit surprised and shocked," he says.

About the prestigious nomination he says: "It's part of the reason why we do what we do, constantly perfecting our craft in order to make the viewers happy. It's great to be recognised and it confirms that I'm on the right path."

ALSO READ: Mduduzi Mabaso on a new Western movie: 'People will forget about Suffocate'

Mduduzi Mabaso
Mduduzi Mabaso


Surprisingly the Rhythm City actor says that initially he didn't consider acting as a possible career choice, saying that he wanted to be a soldier and train in the armed forces.

But he received an unexpected nudge in the right direction, saying: "It was by default that I ended up acting. Long story short, a lead character in the school play got ill and my teacher suggested that I stand in and the rest is history."

I've travelled with Mdu on several roadshows and have seen first hand the star-power of his character, Suffocate. I've seen crowds push through barricades, and even a lady drop her child at the sight of the actor!

Speaking about the success of his character on the soapie, and why he thinks he has garnered such a big fan-base, the 43-year-old says: "He is real and all his trials and tribulations are derived from real situations. He is very relatable."

Adding: "Also I don't take my craft lightly. I invest in my work or the character at hand and give it 200%."

ALSO READ: Check out these behind-the-scenes pics of State Enemy Number 1

Mduduzi Mabaso
Mduduzi Mabaso


For his most recent role as Luyanda in the South African Western Five Fingers for Marseille, Mdu received rave reviews.

The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017, with City Press citing the movie as "A trailblazer - a film that will set local productions on a different road to success."

CHANNEL24 REVIEW: Five Fingers for Marseilles

About the success of the film he says: "I mean each and every member of the cast was amazing and I guess it's true that hard work pays off in the end! Great feeling!"

The actor called his performance in the movie his "most challenging role to date," saying: "Not only did I have to speak Sesotho, the conditions out there were harsh! Snow wind, whoa!"

ALSO READ: Five Fingers for Marseilles makes R500k on opening weekend

But his all-time favourite role was playing Khotso in Skale le Meogo-The Stickfighter by Bomb Productions.

Mduduzi Mabaso
Mduduzi Mabaso


What's next for the award-winning actor? He says his dream role is to play a "madman or an absolute psycho."

Going about choosing a role he says that he believes most of the roles has chosen him, adding: "Together with my manager we really look for a challenge. I want a character that will challenge me and throw me out of a comfort zone. It's part of growth."

Aside from TV, Mduduzi has appeared in several theatre productions, including Cry The Beloved Country, Madiba's Magic and Shaka Zulu.

Comparing the two arts he laughingly says: "Theatre is raw adrenaline and there are no second takes. It keeps you on your feet. But TV allows you to chill."

Having been the industry for well over two decades, he says if he could give his younger-self advice upon entering the industry, it would be: "Be assertive and never compromise your values and beliefs just to get a job or role. Keep learning, gain knowledge and surround yourself with the right people."

Mduduzi Mabaso
Mduduzi Mabaso

To vote for Mduduzi in the category Favourite Actor SMS the short code 6C to 39201. Or dial *120*33033# on your and follow the prompts.

You can also vote for free on web and mobile at

(Photos: Gallo Images)