Zakes Mokae Poster

Biography

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 5, 1934, actor Zakes Mokae was initially a jazz saxophonist. Moving to England in 1961, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and became one of the most distinguished thespians in South Africa for over two decades.

Mokae was one of the few actors capable of crossing the divided racial sections, punctuated by his collaborations with white writer Athol Fugard. Together they founded the radical theater group The Rehearsal Room in the 50s that specifically dealt with his country's injustices. In fact, over the years his performances in "The Blood Knot," "Boesman and Lena," "A Lesson from Aloes" and "Master Harold...and the Boys," have been universally applauded.

He fled the racist apartheid policies in South Africa in 1969 and migrated to America, subsequently winning a Tony award in 1982 for "Master Harold..." and proceeded to perform in American films to somewhat lesser acclaim, including A Dry White Season (1989), A Rage in Harlem (1991) and Waterworld (1995). TV appearances included strong appearances on such programs as "Law & Order," "Dream On," "Oz," "X-Files," "The West Wing" and "Monk."

In later years, Mokae moved to Las Vegas and served as artistic director for the Nevada Shakespeare Company. 75-year-old Mokae died there from complications of a stroke on September 11, 2009.