Mpopoma High School actor remembers meeting Cont Mhlanga Ashley Nkosikhona Mpofu (right) on stage with award-winning actor Gift Chakuvinga

Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
A TEENAGE actor from Mpopoma High School Ashley Nkosikhona Mpofu remembers the time when he met the late great arts doyen Cont Mhlanga and how that has stuck with him till this day.

The 19-year-old actor spoke on the sidelines of the four-day performance-based workshops that were hosted by local theatre group, Centre for Talent Development (CTD) at the Bulawayo Theatre last week. CTD which specialises in live literature projects (performance-based workshops) staged George Mujajati’s Rain of my Blood, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as well as Raisedon Baya’s Super Patriots and Morons and other set plays for the benefit of O and A Level students.

Mpofu recalled meeting Mhlanga and said the connection between them was instantaneous.

“Meeting Cont was a dream come true. I had always wished to meet him and when I did, I made a promise to myself that I’d forever keep every word he told me. I’m the actor that I am today because of people like him. He was my icon. He told me that I was born to act the very first time he saw me and particularly pointed at my nose saying it was that of a real actor.

“He also told me that I’ll be a star and it’s unfortunate that he passed on before witnessing all that. But I believe he foresaw it and it’s still going to happen,” said Mpofu.

He said Mhlanga was funny and always had something impactful to say.

“He was a living library and was always ready to engage, even on WhatsApp, you’d ask questions and he’d answer,” said Mpofu.

Mpofu played multiple characters including Alex, Tawanda and Francis in George Mujajati’s Rain of my Blood stage play. In the play, “I will wait” by Bertha Msora, he played Leo-James Chizemo.

The theatre fanatic also features in a radio drama called “Imfihlo Lezilingo” by Kundaimidzo Shamuyarira on Skyz Metro FM which is on season 3. He plays the Trust Mpumelelo character.

Mpofu’s acting career took off in 2018 when he joined the school’s drama club and since then, he has never looked back.

Ashley Nkosikhona Mpofu with the late Cont Mhlanga

To Mpofu, Mhlanga is one of the many individuals who have moulded him to be the creative he is today and he said he is grateful to fellow CTD colleagues, veteran actor Gift Charuvinga and Raisedon Baya among other individuals.

“At CTD, working with Gift Chakuvinga is something I’m grateful for. He’s a veteran actor and also my director. He’s one person who wants the best from you, always challenges you and wants you to grow. My journey won’t be complete without the mention of my teacher Mr Alex Mangoro who brought me to CTD. These individuals have played a critical role in my development,” he said.

The highly-ambitious actor wants to claim celebrity status by being in Hollywood and winning an Oscar Award. – @eMKlass_49

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