Fiche Personne
Théâtre Cinéma/TV

Zakes Mokae

Metteur/se en scène, Acteur/trice
États-Unis, Afrique du Sud


Né le 05 août 1935 à Johannesburg (Afrique du Sud)

Zakes Zulu Mokae est un acteur américain d’origine Sud-Africaine.

Mokae was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, moved to Great Britain in 1961, and to the United States in 1969.[1] He turned to acting at the same time as playwright Athol Fugard was emerging. The two worked together on Fugard’s first international success The Blood Knot from 1961, a two-hander set in South Africa about brothers with the same mother but different fathers so Zach (played by Mokae) is dark skinned and Morris (played by Fugard) is fair skinned. Later Mokae worked with Fugard on another major international success Master Harold… and the Boys, for which Mokae won the 1982 Tony Award for Featured Actor in a Play. The play was filmed for television in 1985 with Mokae and Matthew Broderick. In 1993 Mokae won a second Tony Award for Featured Actor in a Play for The Song of Jacob Zulu by Tug Yourgrau.
His major films are split between anti-apartheid films such as A Dry White Season, Cry Freedom and A World of Strangers, and cult horror films such as The Serpent and the Rainbow and Dust Devil. He also appears in character roles in many films. On television, he has been a guest actor in many series such as The West Wing, Starsky and Hutch, Danger Man, The X-Files, Oz, Monk and Knight Rider.
In recent years, Mokae has been working as a theatre director for American companies including the Nevada Shakespeare Company.

^ « Zakes Mokae Biography ». filmreference (2008). Retrieved on 2008-05-19.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Zakes Mokae was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on 5 Aug 1935.

Zakes Zulu Mokae is a South African-born American actor.

You always hear me tell the story of how my parents don’t know what it is I do because there is no word in my language for an actor. The closest word is « to play ». So I tell them I play and they say « A big man like you and all you do is play? »

Mokae attended St. Peter’s Anglican school in Rosettenville, where he came to know the Superintendent, Father Trevor Huddleston. Mokae started as a saxophonist playing in the Huddleston Jazz Band, an initiative of Trevor Huddleston « I spent about a year begging instruments. I hadn’t got any money – I had to beg the money as well as the instruments. And gradually we built up a really first-class jazz band ». Hugh Masekela most famously played in it.

After meeting Athol Fugard, a then unknown white playwright, Mokae took up acting. He and Fugard worked together creating new plays that reflected the situation in South Africa of the time. Fugard had in Mokae an actor able to carry the intelligence and emotion required in Fugard’s work. Blood Knot, performed by Mokae and Fugard, was the first masterpiece to attract world attention.

The apartheid regime blocked his acting career in South Africa so he went to London in 1961 to study acting at RADA, and appeared on the West End and Broadway.

In 1969 he moved into American films and established himself as a gifted character actor, and sometime, as in the horror film The Serpent and the Rainbow, and in the anti-apartheid film A Dry White Season, giving a glimpse of his full acting ability.

In 1980 he founded The Black Actors Theatre with Danny Glover in San Francisco. In 1982 he won a Tony Award for his performance in Master Harold and the Boys and in 1993 received a nomination for The Song of Jacob Zulu. In Feb 2005 he was presented with the South African Life-Time Achievement Award for his stage work.

Currently he is working in theatre as a director: « I’m more into directing now… I leave acting to the actors. I’ve been acting for too long. It makes sense for me now to move from acting to directing. » (Ken White in Neon).

Zakes Mokae films/tv

Mokae’s best film work is divided between horror films –The Serpent and the Rainbow, Dust Devil– and apartheid films- A Dry White Season, Cry Freedom.

1960s and 1970s films

A World of Strangers/ Dilemma
The Comedians
Fragment of Fear
The River Niger

1980s films
The Island
Cry Freedom
The Serpent and the Rainbow
Gross Anatomy
A Dry White Season

1990 films
A Rage in Harlem
The Doctor
Body Parts
Dust Devil
Slaughter of the Innocents
Vampire in Brooklyn
Krippendorf’s Tribe

1960s and 1970s television
Danger Man
Seek Her Out
Hazel and Her New Gas Cooker
Where Have They Gone, All the Little Children?
Starsky and Hutch
One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story
Roots: the next generations

1980s television
Knight Rider
A Caribbean Mystery
Master Harold…and The Boys
A Different World
The Hogan Family

1990s television
Parker Kane
Dream On
The X Files
Percy & Thunder
In Darkest Hollywood: Cinema and Apartheid
Rise and Walk: the Dennis Byrd Story
Law & Order
Gensyn med Johannesburg
Waterworld (computer game)

2000s television
The West Wing
The Valiant Little Tailor

Zakes Mokae (a Zakes Mokae site by Iain Fisher)
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