Abdul Khoza on being a dad, his father’s teachings and the brotherhood he has with other actors

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Abdul Khoza for TRUELOVE Man
Abdul Khoza for TRUELOVE Man
Luba Lesolle

Abdul Khoza hasn’t had the most traditional entry into the film and TV industry. Yet his passion, dedication, service, and commitment to the craft is why today, he’s among Mzansi’s top leading men on our screens.

It’s hard to believe that before his memorable entrance onto popular telenovela, Isibaya, Abdul Khoza had a whole life before fame. Having served in the army straight out of high school and then joining the fire brigade, Abdul believes that – much like those positions – acting is his calling. However, he admits joining Class Act in 2011 was not something he planned but an opportunity he grabbed with both hands once he stumbled upon the advertisement on TV.


“The ad came on while I was working night shift and I told the guys that I’m going to go,” the award-winning actor recalls. “I believe I’ve sort of been navigated to where I need to be in life because I never planned to be in the army but something just told me I would fit into that world as opposed to just going to a normal university like everyone else was planning to,” Abdul adds.

He says there were so many things that made sense to him about being in the army so he pursued it like a calling. “It’s a selfless job like all the other jobs that I’ve done,” he says – and adds that he considers being an actor a calling too.

“Acting became a bigger platform to serve because my name alone means God’s most merciful servant – Abdulrahman – but I never planned to walk parallel to my name in any way. Life’s journeys walked me that close to my name itself,” he explains.


After being cast on Intersexions and other roles here and there, Abdul decided to quit acting because he experienced what he calls “a dry season”.

“I wasn’t used to that because I didn’t know this freelancing lifestyle. Since I left school I knew what a pay check was, every month. So, you can imagine…” he says. “My first born was on the way so I decided I had to quit acting, leave Joburg and go back home.”

The first season of Isibaya aired when he had returned to his job as a fireman. “That’s how I experienced the first season of Isibaya - I was literally in uniform, having come home from work and I was standing there. I remember holding my bag and watching this thing and seeing Sdumo [Mtshali], Pallance [Dladla] and saying to myself ‘how am I not here?’ It was just a feeling I cannot explain to anyone,” he says.

"I felt like I was standing in the middle of nowhere watching the screen of a world I could be a part of but was no longer because I chose to rather go back and secure that ‘9 to 5’ that will ensure that my daughter is born and raised by me properly."

While returning to being a firefighter was an adjustment, Abdul says he has no regrets. “I got to be a father for the first time, I was with my family – it was a good chapter in my life.”

Just two years later, Abdul went back to acting. He left the fire service for the second time, was cast on The Road, had a cameo on Uzalo and says, “… since then I’ve never looked back”.

The now father-of-two married Baatile Khoza (née Themane) in 2019 after announcing their engagement in 2018.

Why describe acting as a service? Abdul says he sees it as serving people directly and indirectly.


“I really just put myself aside whenever it’s time to do my work because I can’t let a bad day affect my performance or, as I always tell my fellow colleagues: I never want people to look at my work and be able to pick up that one job might’ve paid me less than the other due to the performance I’m giving,” he explains.

However, this view of servitude in his career as an actor isn’t the only thing that sets Abdul apart from the rest. Unlike many performers, the fireman-turned-actor is able to do his own stunts on screen - something that isn’t a norm in the industry. This is thanks to the martial arts training his father imparted to him as a child.

Abdul speaks about his father, Stanley Khoza, with a great deal of tenderness and affection that effortlessly displays the high regard he has for him.

"In my life’s journey, I’ve got martial arts, which my father passed on the skill when I was four years old and it’s a skill that I hold ‘til today. I’m able and fortunate enough to use that skill in my career because I consciously decided to honour my father with my career, especially when I realised the opportunity was there."

He references his portrayal of Qaphela on Isibaya -  a character who is like a gangster but doesn’t have to rely on guns during a confrontation because of his karate skills.

Abdul says, “My father is not a fan of guns, he’s never been. We were raised differently to sort of not believe in guns, instead my father said, ‘I would rather train you to be your own weapon’.”

This is, in part, the teaching that informs how he approaches such characters. With his enthusiasm for learning and performing stunts, Abdul says he has seen over time other actors showing a willingness to attempt their own stunts as well. One might observe this shift as the ‘Abdul effect’- his ability to influence industry norms.


He humbly says, “It’s not necessarily the ‘Abdul effect’, it’s more like my father’s impact in the industry. I brought the martial arts through him because without him I wouldn’t have it either so it’s his influence in the industry through me.”  

At 65, Mr Khoza – as the actor refers to him – is still a martial art instructor in KwaZulu-Natal, teaching young children the craft as he did with Abdul.

"My father is the best. He understands, he appreciates, he supports."

It’s easy to tell that Abdul is surrounded by a strong network of men – from his close relationship with his brother Sthembiso ‘SK’ Khoza, the affection for his father, and the brotherhood he deliberately formed with his fellow actors. He calls Sdumo and Pallance his “brothers” – they also happen to be performers who are products of the Class Act competition.

On Showmax’s hit series The Wife, Abdul stars alongside six on-screen brothers who he says he has made deliberate efforts to connect with off-screen as well.

“I come from a background of working a lot with a team and with unity. So, even with the brothers, one thing that stands out the most on our show is the brotherhood we have and I’m one of the people that literally encouraged that from day one. I insisted we start a WhatsApp group, that we start hanging out together as brothers, and get to know each other deeper, thoroughly and truthfully so,” he reveals.


Another industry leader Abdul formed a close relationship with is the late, great Menzi Ngubane. When the two starred in Isibaya as father and son, that’s when their bond – which Abdul says he doesn’t fully comprehend himself – formed and strengthened. 

“You don’t get Menzi Ngubanes every day - that man was an inspiration to me. To have shared his last role in his career with me, and be the man and the father that he became to me, is something else.”

“He literally raised me; he embraced me like I was one of his own. The relationship we had no one can ever understand and I don’t even understand it too because I grew up watching this man and never thought in my life that I would be with him, playing his son,” he shares.

Abdul is the epitome of a multitalented performer. From executing his own stunts to seamlessly improvising TV scripts, and contributing to soundtracks of television shows he’s starred in, there’s no doubt that he commits himself to producing a full body of work given a chance.

That’s right, Abdul is a musician as well. He’s worked on songs for The Wife, and recently collaborated with his co-star, Bonko Khoza. Jamie Foxx is one of his role models he says, and he’s hoping to work on a music project but “…As soon as I get a hit.”


Photgrapher: Luba Lesolle

Stylist: Nceba Claasen

Grooming: Nosimpiwe Matiso


Editor-in-chief: Makhosazana Zwane-Siguqa

Production manager: Pertunia Mdluli

Content Editor: Ubuhle Zwane

Video Editor: Sihle Nyakane

Intern: Loyiso Mkhazi

Clothing credits

Jewellery: JoZEEst  

Fur coat look - Stylist’s own 

Second and third look (suits): Suited by Sir Classen 

Last look: House of Ole

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