Could Ezra Mabengeza be the loveliest actor ever? Quite possibly. If he’s not literally ‘sending sun from L.A.’ via an attached video on email, he’s effortlessly spreading his infectious zest for life. Since embarking on a career in modelling, the following years have seen him take on the roles of actor, photographer and recently – entrepreneur. Born in South Africa during the apartheid, he provides an inspiring take on life, whilst also talking fashion, personal style and his home town.
You’re originally from South Africa, what series of events led you to the U.S. of A?
I received a modelling contract to come here, when I was in Paris at Success Models.
You’re currently in L.A., what are you up to on the west coast?
I am here for “pilot season” where I intend to land breakthrough roles.
You studied politics and organisational psychology, is academia something you’d like to return to in the future?
I am always engaged in academia; in fact, my ultimate mission, which I am working on now, is the establishment of an unprecedented Art and Leadership Academy, situated in South Africa, THE FR55DOM INSTITUTE OF THE ARTS AND LEADERSHIP ACADEMY.
How long have you been modelling and what has it taught you about yourself?
First of all imagine this, I’m from a country where African people were treated like nothing, the idea was to destroy our identity. Modelling afforded me the experience of having time to restore my identity! Ha, this not what you hear often about modelling right? LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT! (shoutout to Talk Talk) and thanks to my older brother for introducing me to the untouchable British bands that were coming out at that time behind our “apartheid iron curtain.”
Does your modelling background ever help when acting and vice versa?
No not really, modelling and acting is different. Modelling involves very very little soul, while ‘acting’ – because you are not pretending, you are conveying truth through a particular character or a set of circumstances – involves your whole self, it’s incredibly spiritual!
You’re also a photographer – do you have a preference when it comes to being either in-front or behind the camera?
No, I don’t have a preference, both are extremely gratifying. Thank Creator I was born to grandparents who told me that I am a part of the universe and the universe is me! My grandfather, on his death bed, when I was 6 years old, reminded me never to let the western mindset that ‘you must choose one thing’ enter my consciousness, we are infinite!
You have a great sense of style, who are your top menswear designers of the moment?
Thanks, once again, to my grandparents and parents for the sense of style that they gave me. My favorites are without a question; Vivienne Westwood, Tom Ford, the LVMH group, Façonnable, Kenzo, Hans Ubbink and Jil Sander. The Scandinavian brands are also phenomenal!
On your LinkedIn page you say “creatively my mission involves Humanity.” What do you mean by this?
I will never forget being on Trafalgar Square and meeting a Lithuanian friend, when he shared with me the struggle for Lithuania’s independence and how he knew everything about South Africa’s struggle! It proved everything that I was taught by my grandparents – to never utter hate of anyone, and not to let this energy enter my body, our real church!
You are quite hard to track down online – in terms of a personal website, Twitter e.t.c. considering our highly connected society, you come as a bit of an anomaly. Is your lack of Internet presence a conscious decision? If so, why?
I was raised in the bush, nothing will ever be greater than touch, intuition, using our senses – all the finer details you will miss because these items of “modernity” rob us of our ability to be in the moment! I cannot “act” without this ability!
What upcoming projects do you have in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
I am working on having fundraisers for my FR55DOM INSTITUTE OF THE ARST AND LEADERSHIP ACADEMY in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Finland, Germany, Holland and Iceland. This is a united creative initiative and I need support – donor spaces, beverage donors and ultimately investors.
What do you miss most about your home town?
The people, we don’t walk past each other without acknowledging each other and I miss speaking Xhosa, one of the most beautiful languages in the world!
What would be your dream movie role?
Anything directed by Mike Leigh, Frank Darabont, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg, The Coen brothers, Steve McQueen, … I also wish Winona Ryder would make a comeback! Ha!
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the moment!
Words / Jade Thompson
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