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February 12, 2007

By Debashine Thangevelo

'At school, my friends said that I had a terrible voice and could not dance," Carlo McFarlane laughs.

As a result he ended up doing his BSc Honours in physiology at Wits with the notion of eventually pursuing a medical career. After varsity, McFarlane decided to take a year off to work with the youth.

"It was at youth camp where I got a chance to dance. My friend and I put a kwaito beat to a song and performed to it, and that is where it took off really.

"God has been great, I haven't stopped working in the industry for the last seven years," McFarlane shares.

From dancing professionally for corporate events and various kwaito concerts, he landed his big TV break replacing Clint Brink as Shawn in's Backstage.

Having never studied acting, McFarlane already had his work cut out for him.

"I had to get a crash course in acting. Thankfully, I had an acting coach working with me everyday. At the time I joined the show, they were in the process of relocating to Joburg from Cape Town. Fitting in with the cast was not easy: most of them were cool, but some were 'challenging'," he explains.

His role on Backstage was a catalyst in him landing the lead in Fame - The Musical.

"The producer of Fame approached the producers of the soap and asked if they could give me six months' leave to do the musical. It was agreed that I would return to Backstage after the run. However, while I was away someone else took over the reins as producer and I decided to explore my other options instead."

In 2004, McFarlane was honoured with a Naledi theatre awards for Best Performance by a Newcomer for his portrayal of Tyrone in Fame.

"What can I say, I am still speechless," he says of his achievement . "It was incredible for me, because it was my first theatre role and I came from a background were I was discouraged from that."

His other plaudits in theatre were for Big Bang Blast, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and We Will Rock You.

Aside from a short stint as a chef in Villa Rosa, he was also in the television play Once Upon a Krismaas, which aired last year.

The good-looking actor can now be seen in Muvhango, SABC2's popular Venda drama with English subtitles, as Malcolm Kramer.

"I play a straight-talking, sharp, confident lawyer for Mukwevho Milling. My character is introduced as the replacement lawyer for Kolo.

"He is very impressive and assertive but not in an arrogant way. He doesn't have a love interest as yet, but it will be changing."

Of the vibe on the set, he explains: "It is awesome. The makers of Muvhango are pushing for a performance-driven series. They do everything possible to make the actors comfortable and the environment conducive to strong performances. At the moment I have only shot about three scenes."

McFarlane says that at this stage in his career, he is looking for meaty roles where he plays the struggling young man, finding his feet in life and learning to stand up for what he believes in.

"I love drama and I love it when my character goes through a transition. I'll always be open to musicals. In the meantime, I will continue working in theatre, television (because you get paid well) and commercials."

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