AFDA alumnus Thabo Malema wins at 17th Naledi Theatre Awards

May 18, 2022 | Alumni, Awards, News, School of Live Performance

AFDA is proud to announce that AFDA alumnus Thabo Malema won the Best Performance in a Play award for his role in “A Better Life” produced by the Market Theatre at the 17th Annual Naledi Theatre Awards held on the Mandela Stage at the Joburg Theatre on 16 May. Thabo shared the award with Andre Odendaal for his role in “Dop” produced by the Market Theatre.

Since graduating from from AFDA with an honours degree in Live Performance Thabo’s career has been on an upward trajectory. He is best known for his starring role as Khaya, an idealistic dreamer who sunk his entire inheritance into a DVD store with African-themed DVDs that no one wants to rent, in the SABC1 sitcom Single Guys.

He had a major recurring role in the HBO/BBC series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, played Young Gisani in the award-winning feature White Lion (2010) and had a role in Warner Bros’ prehistoric epic 10,000 BC.

Thabo has had guest starring roles in numerous television series including Silent Witness, Strike Back, the anthology series eKasi: Our Stories, the SABC1 drama series Intersexions and a two-episode turn on the SABC1 science fiction police procedural Room 9.

In 2020, he starred in the sex comedy film “Seriously Single” co-directed by Katleho Ramaphakela and fellow AFDA alumni Rethabile Ramaphakela. It was released on July 31, 2020 on Netflix.

On stage he has also starred in the theatre plays All Balls, Umuzi ka Vusi and Woza Albert.

“The 17th Annual Naledi Theatre Awards for the first time spanned two years in review, given that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns decimated the industry and severely curtailed the number of productions available to review” said board member, Chris Avant Smith, he continued “Dawn Lindberg also foresaw the need to review those productions performed online specifically made to be streamed and that were not performed before a live audience. To this end the category VOLT (Virtual On-line Theatre) was created just for this period.” Chairperson, Kgomotso Christopher chimed in “What amazed the judges was the tenacity of the industry, where theatre practitioners continued to create excellence in theatre, despite terrible odds, “excellence” being the guiding factor governing the awards”.

The Naledi Theatre Awards was founded in 2004 and is recognised as the Premier Awards Event on the Gauteng Theatre Calendar.

It was founded by the late Dawn Lindberg, together with her husband, Living Legend Des Lindberg. Naledi’s mission is to recognize and reward excellence in the Performing Arts, to raise the profile of Live Theatre and to create awareness of the abundant talent alive and well on our SA stages. The Naledi Theatre Awards has honoured in excess of 70 Lifetime Achievers: veteran artistes, technicians, and administrators who have dedicated their lives to SA Theatre, and also pays tribute to people in the Arts who have taken their final bows during the year under review. The Naledi Theatre Awards normally covers professional productions from the period 1 January to 31 December of the previous year and the Naledi Judges typically evaluate over 100 productions in approximately 38 categories.


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