Faces of 2013: Second chances
Armed with lots of chutzpah, Dumi Masilela looks forward to a year of success and lasting fame. Lesley Mofokeng meets a new star
Dumi Masilela had the world at his feet, literally.
But it all came crashing down when the promising SuperSport United marksman was involved in a horrific car accident in 2008 that left him bedridden for months.
He couldn’t play football for three-and-a-half years.
As soon as he got his strength back, he was up for his next challenge – winning the coveted Idols singing talent search.
He missed the top 10 spot by a whisker, but his appearance in the last 18 stage of the competition made an impact.
Today, he stands on the eve of his debut as an actor on e.tv soapie Rhythm City.
Masilela has been cast as Sifiso Ngema, a 23-year-old street kid who hustles his way through life.
“From a young age I knew I had a destiny ahead of me. When the accident happened I was bitter and frustrated, but I (later) understood that God needed three-and-a-half years to deal with me and sharpen me for where I needed to be,” he says.
“Once I understood that, it made everything better.”
Masilela was still in the Idols contestants’ house when he received a phone call from Rhythm City asking for a meeting as soon as he was done with the talent show.
When he was voted out of Idols, he met with Percy Vilakazi, one of the writers of Rhythm City, who told him about Sifiso.
“He is an interesting character to play and I relate a lot with him. He is poverty-stricken on the outside and stands at the robots looking for a job. And, while I couldn’t play soccer for all those years, I was poverty-stricken inside.
“There were things I wanted to do but I couldn’t because life had taken away that opportunity. I relate with him as far as that fighting spirit is concerned and never giving up,” he says.
Already feeling at home on set, Masilela says last year presented him with great opportunities for someone who was only a footballer and an amateur pianist.
“I went into Idols and did a convincing job and a miracle such as Rhythm City popped up. Every morning I wake up I can’t believe this is my life. It’s so motivating and overwhelming when hard work pays off and someone believes in the little you can do.”
He continues: “I didn’t go to Idols to win the competition. I went there to leave a mark and to be remembered. I knew that Idols was not a platform for my music and my sound, but I needed to take out what I needed for my music career.”
Masilela says he never had a plan for his life. As a sixth grader, he wanted to be a doctor, but when he got to Grade 8 he got a sports bursary.
“Everything I’ve done – singing, soccer and acting – was never a conscious decision. I am living my life as it comes, per experience, and using all those things to better empower myself as a young man.”
He gets philosophical when talking about his destiny.
“My life is a journey and I don’t know how it’s going to end, but if acting is my experience and my season now, I am going to learn as much as I can to empower myself as an entertainer and a performer.”
In addition to acting, Masilela plans to release a music album too.
» Masilela debuts on Rhythm City on Friday at 6.30pm. Follow him on Twitter @DumiMasilela1