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The many faces of Khaya Dladla

The actor is adept at shape-shifting, playing everything from the fabulous GC in Uzalo to ruthless gangster Nxebale Ndoda in eHostela.

Actor Khaya Dladla opens up about his many roles.
Actor Khaya Dladla opens up about his many roles.
Image: Supplied.

The actor is adept at shape-shifting, playing everything from the fabulous GC in Uzalo to ruthless gangster Nxebale Ndoda in eHostela. But who is the artist behind some of TV’s most flamboyant roles?

Career lessons

It’s an industry with a lot of noes. I have met so many people who are anti-rejection, but how will you get a “yes” if you don’t know how to fix your “no”? Practice makes perfect — I’m still learning how to act.

When I went to auditions and didn’t get cast, my question was always, “Why?” I interrogated the why until I found the answer, and from that made sure history didn’t repeat itself. It never did, it never does. 

I have met some amazing giants. There is no staying the same when you work with people like [poet and filmmaker] Duma Ndlovu and [producer and composer] Lebo M. You have to walk out with something; as much as they are practitioners of what we do, they are also lecturers, our Google, Wikipedia.

Don’t waste time

Time is precious. We don’t have much time, and that’s because we don’t know how much of it we have.

When they say, “Time heals all wounds,” they actually mean it. My father passed on in 2010. His being removed from my space changed my whole thinking. I had to wake up quickly and grow up very fast, I had to take care of my family at an age where I was supposed to be thriving, enjoying my money, enjoying my life. So even if you’ve lost a loved one, grief is important, but grief shouldn’t also chow your time.

Life moves on without you. Whatever you have now is all you have, so once you’re gone, it goes on. Just live in the moment. Everything that happens to you, it’s your time, it’s your turn.

Free, frank, and unapologetic

Image: Supplied.

Crazily enough, I was only conscious of my sexuality because of homophobia. It was never a thing until somebody made it a thing, until someone had something really nasty to say. I think that’s when my spirituality kicked in, like, “God, if you love me, why would people want to hurt me so much?” That’s when I started praying and fasting.

My parents never sat me down, but people felt a need to advise them on “how to fix the problem”. Sexuality is not a job, so you can’t be known for being gay. I respect an artist or professional who happens to be gay, but I need you to have something besides your sexuality as a job. There must be something you’re really good at — for me, it’s breathing.

Use whatever [pronoun] resonates with you, you can call me “she” today, “he” tomorrow and “they” the next hour, as long as it doesn’t come from a place of malice.

Coming Out

Gain your own independence before “coming out”. I actually don’t believe in the notion of coming out, personally. First of all, who said “coming out” is on the list? Why is that if you’re part of the LGBTQI community, you have to come out, why don’t straight people come out? Isn’t it the same? Come out, why? Why do you have to come out?

Handle you. If you’re still dependent on your family in any financial way, wait until you’re independent before breaking the story. What if you break it and they cut you off? Can you imagine being broke, homeless, and gay? It’s fine, you can lie until you’re fine. Then at a random Sunday lunch, on your gogo’s birthday even, drop the bomb.

Find a home. Home is not necessarily where you were born, home may not be where your family is. Home could be at work, it could be with your friends — home is where you make it. If it feels like home, that’s home for you.