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SA talent wins Africa's acting contest/access Hollywood auditions

Jesse Suntele FSouth Africa's Jesse Suntele has been voted "Top Actor Africa" in the grand finale of BET's dramatic reality contest.

Suntele (23) beat fellow Mzansi contestant Shamilla Miller and Kenya's Alex Khayo in the final episode of the series which aired on BET (DStv channel 129) on Tuesday night at 7.30pm. The overwhelmed actor was awarded a cheque for US $10,000, a 12-month contract with international talent agency J. Pervis Talent Agency, and access to Hollywood auditions.

To win the final prize, Jesse not only had to bounce back from his performances slumping earlier episodes, but also to dominate subsequent challenges and leave a strong impression on judges Zikhona Sodlaka, Brandon Auret ('District 9" and "Chappie"), stunt expert Ciprian Florian and the BET viewers at home who voted online for their favourite contestant. Martial arts and stunt work were among the skills Jesse had to master while delivering a convincing performance in the "Action Movie" challenge.

Formally trained as a sound engineer, Jesse discovered a love of acting during his participation in numerous school plays. After landing the very first professional audition he attended, he realised that he actually had a genuine talent for acting. Jesse subsequently went on to act in numerous commercials and has appeared on South African drama series "Ashes to Ashes".

Commented Jesse: "I am lost for words, it literally hasn't sunk in yet. I'm overjoyed, but at the same time I'm not sure what just happened. My mind is in three places at once - where I was when I started in this career, what my next move is towards my future and what I am feeling right now. But I'm extremely proud of myself and of the other finalists, Shamilla and Alex. Those two will never know how much they pushed me and played a part in how hard I had to work for this. They won't ever know the impact they've made in my life and I'm grateful to have met them and I'm honoured to be an actor alongside them!"

Commented Monde Twala, Vice President, BET, Youth & Music, "Congratulations to Jesse on his well-deserved success – he is a fantastic actor with immense talent and it's been awe-inspiring to watch his craft grow and develop over the course of Top Actor Africa. We look forward to seeing his name in lights and his career blossoming from this point forward."

For more information on BET, visit www.betafrica.tv, like on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BETinAfrica or join the conversation about the channel on Twitter and Instagram @BET_Africa using the hashtag #TopActorAfrica.