There are not too many rappers who are also actors and presenters in our local entertainment industry. So when Jesse Suntele aka JFlo took it upon himself to be all three, we couldn't help but take notice of the fact that this young man did not come into the industry to play games.
The entertainer recently sat down with ZAlebs for an exclusive one on one interview as he delved deep into his passion as an all-around entertainer. And if there’s one crucial fact we’ve come to learn about Jesse; it’s that most, if not all of his career breakthroughs stem from his calculative and strategic moves. Nothing he has achieved came from chance.
All the opportunities he’s been given, he has made sure to take advantage of and that mindset comes from him knowing exactly what he wanted to do since he was in high school.
Come to think of it, Jesse has kind of played or instead utilised his career like a game of chess.
The music career
You’d be surprised to know that although Jesse is an actor, he did not study drama after leaving matric, Jesse went on to study sound engineering, but that decision was also a strategic one.
“For me leaving matric and studying sound engineering was intentional, because I always knew that the end game, was to get into music. Whatever happens in between that was just the game, but I knew that the end goal was to get into music, so tv, modelling, acting, as much as I loved doing them I knew that they were a means to an end. And for me, it was to start my music differently in comparison to how other people were doing it.”
Jesse mentions that the career opportunities, especially his acting career have been a springboard in helping kickstart his career as a rapper.
“The demographics of people that watch me on TV is not the same demographic that is going to listen to my music, so that was a different move considering the type of music that I was getting into. I think a lot of people do use television to get a leg up in the industry, but for me when looking at the roles that I’ve acted in, the people that watch those roles are not the same people that will listen to my music. But I knew that at the end of the day, the exposure is still the same. It’s still going to get me at a place where If I have something to say, somebody is going to listen. So when I record music and release it, I know that there will be people who will listen.”
The pretty boy persona
One aspect of Jesse that no one can deny is the fact that he is a gorgeous man who is adored by many women across the country, especially when he takes his shirt off. But even though Jesse appreciates and understands that his looks have given him the upper hand when it comes to a number of opportunities that have come his way [like modelling] he is trying to steer away from the pretty boy persona.
“Part of the reason why I entered music competitions like The Hustle was because I wanted to move away from that (my looks). I needed people to know first hand that I'm making music because I’m good at it and if you don’t believe me, did you not see me on the Hustle? If I land a role on a specific show, it’s not because of my pretty face, did you not see that I won Top Actor Africa? So for me, I needed to make sure that I had evidence that I’m good at what I do, not because of my pretty face, that’s just the cherry on top. I don’t want people to wake up one morning and be like ‘eintlik why is this guy famous, why do we like him? Because that means tomorrow you can wake up and decide not to like me and I don't want that."
Director Bonga gives us notes on how he would like us to bring this story to life. It’s our job as actors to turn these visions to reality. Working together with the directors helps us make sure we do this to the best of our abilities. P.S. accentuated forehead lines symbolize deep focus and concentration 😁👍🏽 @officialrhythmcity
Jesse also shared that another thing he’s been doing to avoid having people only focus on his looks is that he now avoids shirtless scenes, sorry ladies.
“Nowadays I tell my directors that I really don’t want to do shirtless scenes, kissing scenes are fine but I’m really trying to stay away from the pretty boy persona. Especially if my character isn’t a pretty boy, if he is, then fine but if my character isn’t painted as the charmer boy then I would like for us to stay away from that. I really don’t want it to be a distraction," he said.
Jesse currently acts on Rhythm City and is thoroughly enjoying playing the character of Nqaba, [Suffocate's son]
Stay tuned for part two of our sit down interview with Jesse as he speaks more about his music career and plans for the future.
- What to read next: Kelly Khumalo on why he picked Jesse Suntele
Main Image Credit: Instagram/@Jesse_Suntele_