A decade of acting.
A lifetime of experience.
We all know that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but we sometimes forget that that step must be followed by another and another and another, before those thousand miles are behind you. And, then, a new horizon is visible in the distance. And another step is taken.
From humble and introverted beginnings to a mildly successful, more extroverted middle, I have taken a scenic and not-at-all short route through the entertainment industry. Steadily uncovering my acting abilities one layer at a time led me : from barely being noticed in school theatre : to showing potential in amateur drama : to going professional in an already difficult industry in a time before it had realised there were more than two races of human : to steadily making a name for myself as a masculine-representing comedic Indian performer: to pushing both personal and industry boundaries : to redefining what I can accomplish as an actor. I am excited for everything that unfolds next.
How did it begin?
While working as head web developer in the one-horse town of Mafikeng, for reasons that were not then clear, I decided that I wanted to return to the big city and become an actor. I shared this revelation with the young lady I was sexting at the time, who, as fate would have it, happened to know just the people to contact. Upon returning to Johannesburg, these contacts led me first to cut my teeth in the world of amateur dramatics, before committing to study the art of performance and going pro.
In my late twenties, out of hundreds of applicants, I was accepted into Musical Theatre at the Tswane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa. My aunt then took the opportunity to remind me that when I was but a pre-teen, I’d said,
“when I grow up, I want to be an entertainer.”
The first break
My first major TV role would be Kumeshan, a character that moved in with the lead characters in the popular South African sitcom, City Ses’la. I would later learn that my actual audition piece was horrible. Fortunately for me, the casting agent had kept the camera rolling and caught me just riffing with her. There’s a bigger story to this but the short of it is I got the job. It would not be immediately apparent, but doors were starting to open.
Success would not come rapidly as I struggled to find work since City Ses’la. Substantial roles would elude me for many years, as I floundered in the industry, securing the odd gig here and there. In retrospect, I can now see how I’d steadily been making connections and gaining the experience I needed.
It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I landed a significant role in one of South Africa’s major soapies, 7de Laan. This role would be the start of a gentle landslide to more regular and meatier work.
Are you not entertained?
As a naturally comedic performer, I have also done several physically demanding stage and screen roles. My acting performances are complemented with my dancing, tumbling, and plain careless acrobatic skills.
Like a chameleon, I shift from character to character, seamlessly swapping accents like they were top hats.
My major roles to date are Trishan in 7de Laan (2012); Ravi Chetty in Roushouse Productions’ High Rollers (2013 / 2015 / 2016); and Mr. Abkayananda Govender in Thandeka’s Diary (2015 / 2016 Facebook).
Credited as Jai Prakash, Jai Sewram, and Jai’prakash Sewram [find out why here], this amazing piece of human delicacy spent a year studying Musical Theatre before performing multiple characters in small-scale, big productions such as Sweeney Todd (2007), Into The Woods (2005), and a Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing (2009). My physical performance skills were well received in the children’s theatre shows Aladdin (2008) and Charlotte’s Web (2008), the seductively naughty School of Whoredom (2009 Wits Festival), and the more controversial The Tragic Life and Death of Doctor Faustus (2008). That last one was really awesome. You should check the photos.
On South African TV, I’ve appeared in episodes of City Ses’la (2006 IMDB), 7de Laan (2010, 2012), and small cameos in popular shows Snitch (2006), Generations (2007, 2017, 2018), Rhythm City (2018-2020). I’ve also shot a full season of the yet-to-be-aired Ubuntu…seriously! (2019) as one of the sitcom’s lead characters.
Other screen appearances include a Robbie Wessels’ music video (2012), several featured commercials (2010-2019), and feature length and short movies such as the Last of The Trysts (2009 IMDB), Journey of Souls (2012), Mollie en Wors: Die Movie (2013 IMDB), B.E.E. The Musical (2013), The Deadline (2015), Free State (2016 IMDB), My Father’s War (2016 IMDB), Vuil Wasgoed (2017 IMDB), as well as a couple made-for-YouTube episodes of The Regular Guy (2011).
Experience is my fuel
Hailing from the little town of Kinross, I spent most of my childhood hermitting in my bedroom embracing my introvertism and perfecting my programming skills. However, working in the real world of IT only stimulated so many of my pleasure zones, so I developed a personality, announced that I’d be an actor and haven’t been taken seriously since.
For a while, I plied my trade as an actor and writer with the occasionally splurges of bodywork therapy, IT jobs and design gigs. As the massage and design work got less, I fell into the world of coaching and mentorship. That lasted a couple of years, during which my focus got stronger and clearer on my acting and writing career.
Today, I have infused my various life experiences into my books and acting repertoire. I still enjoy occasionally flaunting my old skills, but most of my working energy is dedicated to the entertainment industry. In my free time, you’ll probably find me hiking, climbing, playing video games, or sunbathing on somebody’s lawn. I am very social within my tribe, love the natural outdoors, and enjoy being active. Ultimate Frisbee, anyone?
Life outside acting
As you may have picked up by now, my passions are spread wide, extending to a host of pursuits, which have kept me and continues to keep me engaged and entertained as my life path meanders onward.
Freedom and joy are my tenets to fulfilment, and I’m relatively fanatical about experiencing tons of both in daily life.
Visit my Extended Explorer page to delve even deeper into the psyche that is me. Mwuhahaha.
Below you will find a timeline of my major career milestones, including my acting and writing exploits to date.
“I close my eyes, embrace the essence of my character, and become anybody I want to be.”
2021Creation begins with you
Published my second book to Amazon Kindle.Bringing together my experience as a coach and mentor, this book is a foundational guide to getting back into the driver's seat of your own life.
Published my first book to Amazon Kindle.A summary of the principles that underlie the AfrikaBurn event, held annually in the Karoo, Western Cape of South Africa.
2017Vuil WasgoedDetective Patrick
2016My Father's WarBilly
2016Free StateThe Guruji
2016Thandeka's Diary season 2Mr. Govender
2015-2016High Rollers season 2/3Ravi Chetty
2015Thandeka's Diary season 1Mr. Govender
2013B.E.E. The MusicalSanjay
My second foray into the festival, I got to play a major character in this particular production, and showcase my not-so-great singing voice.
2013High Rollers season 1Ravi Chetty
2012Mollie & Wors: The MovieMelvin Naidoo
2009School of WhoredomAntoine, the whore
This production had several runs, but I only joined the cast and crew on the Wits Festival one, in which I played the unique character of Antoine. It is probably the first production in which my bare bum got an audience.
2008Charlotte's WebAvery Arable / Farm Animals ensemble
Another children's theatre production, I got to goof things up more as various ensemble characters.
2008AladdinGenie, Mage, Sultan
One of the funnest productions I've been in, this children's theatre version of Aladdin gave me a chance to quick-change characters and practice my singing voice.
2008The Tragic Life and Death of Doctor FaustusDevil Dance
I played one of the ensemble demons in a riveting, dark, choreographed rendition of this famous play.
2009Much Ado About NothingVerges
2007Sweeney ToddAdolfo Pirelli / Jonas Fogg
My first major tv role was secured not so much by my crappy audition but by my "off camera" hijinks that the casting agent sneakily recorded.
2005Into The WoodsRapunzel's Prince / Mysterious Man
Studied Musical Theatre at the Tshwane University of Technology
2001The Actor Awakens
Bored with my programming work, I joined an amateur drama group, and was subsequently cast in two one act plays.
1977Splooshbreathed my first breath