A very down-to-earth and truly hard-working man, Presley Chweneyagae is a South African actor who has become one of the most popular faces on TV in the country. Having spent over two decades in the industry, he is now a respected veteran who has starred in so many productions, establishing himself as one of the most talented men in the business. In the process, he has won over many fans who now monitor his every move on social media.
Known for his grit and passion, Chweneyagae has been involved in the making of some of the most popular and successful movies and TV series in South Africa and has won prestigious awards for his works. One of his very popular movies, Tsotsi, for which he played the title character, won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film in 2006. Through his career so far, Presley Chweneyagae, who is 38 years old at the moment, has gained some international recognition and still pushing strong.
Presley Chweneyagae Hails From South Africa’s North West Province
Presley Chweneyagae was born in Mahikeng, a popular South African city commonly known as Mafikeng, which is the capital city of the country’s North West province. It was also here that he grew up with his family. The actor was born on the 19th of October in 1984, during the monstrous Apartheid regime, a system that institutionalized racial segregation in South Africa. Growing up in the city at the time was quite a fascinating experience for the young Chweneyagae.
Presley Chweneyagae was born to a mother identified as Agnes Keagile. She was a policewoman. The woman was his biggest supporter as a child. While keenly watching him as a kid, she discovered his talent for acting and helped him build on it. However, details about the identity of Presley Chweneyagae’s father remain quite vague at the moment.
Chweneyagae is not an only child; the popular actor has three siblings. However, unlike their famous brother, not much is known about what they do for a living.
He Got His Name From An American Legend
Presley Chweneyagae was named by his mother, Agnes Keagile. According to reports, before she gave birth to her son, Agnes Keagile was so fond of Elvis Presley, the American singer and actor who is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century and is dubbed the “King of Rock and Roll”. She considered him to be one of the world’s greatest ever musicians.
As an ardent music lover, Agnes Keagile was so in love with Elvis Presley’s magic and musical prowess that when she gave birth to her son, she decided to name him after the singer. Hence, the name Presley Chweneyagae.
He Began Acting From A Young Age
Presley Chweneyagae always had an interest in acting since he was a very little boy. In school, he got so fascinated while watching other people act, thus, he got involved with the drama group and started honing his acting skills. Soon after, he joined the drama group in the church and did really well at it as they staged shows on Sundays.
While this was happening, his mother was taking careful note of her son’s skills and talent. Being a lover of the arts herself, she decided to help him become the best at what he does. She got her son enrolled in acting classes. Even though he already loved acting, going for acting classes as a child further helped the young Chweneyagae realize he was meant to take acting very seriously in life and make a living off the performing arts.
Enrolling in acting classes was not enough for Presley Chweneyagae. His mother later enrolled him in a drama school that was owned by Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom, a popular South African stage director and playwriter. While at the drama school, he became very good at acting, and before long, he started finding work as a theatre actor.
Presley Chweneyagae’s Journey As A Professional Actor
Before he became a movie star who mesmerizes fans on TV screens, Presley Chweneyagae was first a stage actor. After finishing drama school, Presley Chweneyagae began to act on stage around South Africa. He was very comfortable with this because it was something he had been doing all his life; from acting on stage in school church to acting on stage in drama school. He was just a teenager at this point but he was already so immersed in acting.
Chweneyagae appeared in many theatre productions before he started landing movie roles. It is noteworthy that while doing his theatre work, Chweneyagae was also attending auditions for movie roles as he sought to transition into television. It was not long before he got his chance.
How Tsotsi Shot Chweneyagae To The Spotlight At Age 21
After acting in plays and theatre productions for much of his teenage years, Presley Chweneyagae finally landed his first feature film role in 2005 when he was cast to play the lead and title role of Tsotsi in the film Tsotsi, a drama/crime movie directed by Gavin Hood and produced by Peter Fudakowski. He was about 21 years old when he landed the role. When the movie was released in 2005, it became a massive hit all over South Africa and beyond and gave Chweneyagae global recognition.
The movie received widespread critical acclaim and Chweneyagae’s performance as the title character was hailed by many critics who praised his believability. Chweneyagae’s performance was more awe-inspiring when it was found it was his first feature film. The film was so successful that it emerged as the winner of the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, becoming the first South African film and the first African film not made in French to win the prize. It was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The huge success of Tsotsi, as well as the incredible portrayal of his character, announced Presley Chweneyagae to the world in style and he was generally looked upon as South Africa’s next big thing in the movie industry. It was clear that he had begun his film career with a bang and the future was very bright for him.
Chweneyagae’s Other Movie Roles
Following his much-praised performance in his first feature film, Presley Chweneyagae has since gone on to star in other movies, telenovelas, and TV series. In 2006, he starred in the TV series When We Were Black, playing the role of Poet. He starred in the series from 2006 to 2007 across four episodes.
In 2007, he was cast to play the role of Mark Shinners in More than Just a Game, a Drama/Sport movie which is also a semi-documentary film showing how political prisoners on Robben Island in South Africa founded the Makana Football Association in 1966. The movie gained lots of popularity, especially because of the sentimental value attached to the story.
In 2009, Chweneyagae was cast to star in Menda City, a crime/drama film playing the role of Don P, one of the most feared gangsters in the township, with his partner in crime Zenzo Ngqobe portraying the character of JJ, a xenophobic gangster who hates foreigners with a passion. The film also gained some popularity as it explored societal issues that needed urgent attention.
The next year in 2010, Presley Chweneyagae starred in State of Violence, a drama/thriller film in which he played Boy-Boy. The film gained attention around South Africa because it focused on addressing various issues concerning violence in South African townships. The same year in 2010, Chweneyagae played the role of Egg in Africa United, an Adventure/Road film about a group of Rwandan children who travel 3000 miles across Africa to get to the South African World Cup. Africa United gained serious recognition around the world with The Daily Express describing it as “the feelgood film of the year”.
In 2011, the actor played Sipho in The Gentleman, a movie about a young man who is put in a moral dilemma and is forced to choose between saving his dying pregnant wife or going against his beliefs. The next year in 2012, he portrayed Joseph Phiri in Zama Zama, an action movie about illegal miners who make a living by mining the ore in both operational and abandoned mine shafts in South Africa.
In 2013, he portrayed a militant prisoner in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a British-South African biographical film based on the 1995 autobiographical book “Long Walk to Freedom” by anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African President Nelson Mandela, considered to be South Africa’s most legendary figure. The movie was very successful, gaining wide acclaim around the world and winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
Also in 2013, Presley Chweneyagae was cast in Avenged, an Action/Drama film to play the lead of Shoes Moshoeshoe. Avenged, a movie about an undercover cop who risks his career (and life) to settle a score, made a lot of buzz around South Africa, and Kurt Halfyard of Twitch Film called it “entertainment of the highest order”. The film reminded South Africans of how incredibly talented Chweneyagae is and his performance was hailed by many stakeholders.
How ‘The River’ Solidified Presley Chweneyagae’s Relevance In The Industry
Presley Chweneyagae had a brief hiatus in the industry after 2013 and some fans wondered what was happening to him. However, he made a comeback in 2017 when he appeared in an episode of the TV series, iNumber Number, playing the role of Shoes. iNumber Number was actually a television series based on the film Avenged. Chweneyagae reprised his role in the series.
In 2018, Chweneyagae proved, despite his brief hiatus, he was still a very relevant figure in the South African movie industry when he joined the cast of The River, one of South Africa’s most popular television series. Chweneyagae was cast to play the role of Thuso Mokoena in the series. The series is set in Pretoria against the backdrop of South Africa’s mining sector and tells the story of people from different backgrounds bonded together by lies and betrayal. Alongside Tsotsi in 2005, The River is one of Chweneyagae’s biggest works in his career.
Chweneyagae’s role in The River is quite big and he caught serious attention with his believable portrayal of his character in the series also known as Cobra. In fact, he caused so much stir with his acting that he became a topic of discussion almost every week among fans of the show on social media. Fans were also divided on whether or not to support his character and some viewers confessed they were losing their minds over his character’s very dubious moves. It was clear that Chweneyagae had become one of the most popular and notorious figures on The River.
Also, because the TV series became very popular around South Africa, Chweneyagae’s fame spread farther and farther because of his work on the show. The River became one of the most popular shows in the country, winning nearly 30 South African Film and Television Awards in the process and also clinched an Emmy nomination in 2019. The more The River gets popular, the more famous Presley Chweneyagae becomes.
Is He Still Starring In The River?
Presley Chweneyagae is still playing his role in The River. Since 2018 when he joined the cast of the series, he has appeared in nearly 700 episodes, making him one of the most featured faces in the series. Apparently, he is still going strong and courting more fans.
However, the star actor has revealed that he does not plan to continue acting for too long. In May 2021, he revealed that he plans to stop acting when he clocks the age of 40. As he is currently 38 years old, it appears fans have only a few years more to enjoy his acting prowess if he follows through with his plans.
Awards Won By Presley Chweneyagae
As expected, Presley Chweneyagae has won different awards for his works. Considering how successful he has become as an actor, this is inevitable.
- In 2006, he won Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Actor at the Bangkok International Film Festival for his work in Tsotsi.
- In 2006, he won the Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his work in Tsotsi.
- In 2006, he won the Best Actor Award at the Mons International Festival of Love Films for his work on Tsotsi.
- In 2006, he won the SAFTA Golden Horn Award for Best Actor – Feature Film for his work in Tsotsi.
- In 2019, he won the SAFTA Golden Horn Award for Best Actor – Telenovela for his work in The River.
He has also bagged some nominations.
- In 2020, he was nominated for the SAFTA Golden Horn Award for Best Actor – Telenovela
- In 2021, he was nominated for the SAFTA Golden Horn Award for Best Actor – Telenovela for his work on The River.