Zolisa Xaluva is one of the finest actors-underrated, in fact. Born in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, He is well known for his roles from hit TV shows such as Generations, Tsha Tsha and The Queen just to mention a few. Not that fans and critics doubt Xaluva’s acting abilities any more, but his willingness to always kill all roles remains legendary.
Zolisa has made a name for himself as an established actor and has featured in popular drama series however, his recent appearance on Mzansi magic’s telenovela ‘Gomora’ has left a lot of viewers and critics with a good impression.
Zolisa Xaluva talks to iStyleblaq.
MUZI: You’ve had an incredible 17 years in the industry so far – Having worked for big productions, What’s been your career highlight to date?
ZOLISA: I think to single out one particular experience as a “Career Highlight” would do an injustice to all my collective experiences. Every project that I have undertaken has had its challenges, successes, (sometimes failures), and rewards. I have embraced each character with as much passion and authenticity as I could. I believe that if a viewer sets aside a portion of their day, be it half an hour or more, to view my craft and my portrayal of a character, I owe them my best performance.
MUZI: You studied drama at Pretoria Technikon and graduated in 2003. What lessons from your acting training have proven most valuable?
ZOLISA: Great Question. You forgot to mention that I was also at WITS but, I had to discontinue my studies because financially, I just couldn’t continue. I would say that the most valuable lesson learned (relieved) was never to reach a point of arrival. Let me explain. As an actor, I continue to push myself, and I continue to improve my craft, learn more, and be better.
In some scenes, the director will ask us to do it over and over again, just to get that perfect scene. When I watch the final product, I always tell myself I should have done this or that, leaned this way or lingered longer, etc. My acting training taught me you always need to try and be better and achieve more. Keep perfecting your craft, even though you know it will never be perfect.
MUZI: Who or what inspires you in your acting career?
ZOLISA: In the words of a great actor (I will leave it for you to find out.) The person who inspires me in my acting career is me. Ask me the same question in ten years, and the answer will still be the same. My inspiration, my drive, and my motivation are my vision of what I will be in 10 years.
MUZI: What would you be doing now if it wasn’t for your acting career?
ZOLISA: I would probably be in media production or behind the scenes, and I tried to start a radio station at Wits *laugh*
MUZI: A lot of artists have issues with typecasting, What are your thoughts on typecasting?
ZOLISA: I believe that you need to be able to adapt to a variety of roles and be accepted by your audience. Some actors will only be accepted in certain roles, and if they try and break away from the “Norm,” they can either soar and thrive and be accepted, or they can crash and burn.
I admire Will Smith in the sense that he has portrayed so many believable characters, even though his claim to fame was a misfit from West Philadelphia in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
It saddens me when certain ethnic groups are only portraying certain roles, and are unable to really be accepted in different roles. Example: Apart from Jackie Chan how many Chinese people have you seen in mainstream comedy? Yes, they are out there, but the audience associates Chinese actors and actresses as dynamic skilled fighters and not a Jim Carey character. Stereotyping plays a huge negative role in the media industry.
MUZI: If you could give advice to young aspiring actors, what did you discover about the industry that you would want others to know about?
ZOLISA: NEVER GIVE UP. If you have a burning passion, it’s there for a reason. It’s not going to be easy. Time seems to eliminate people who are serious about the business and those who want fame. I would say the first thing is to get an agent, and then get into training. This training could be at a university or at a community centre.
You need an agent. You need someone who knows people and someone to protect you legally. Without an agent, you are riding on the Titanic. I have helped several young individuals hook up with reputable agents, and I am always willing and able to assist persons wanting to get advice on how to make it in this industry. It’s Not Glitz and Glam all the time. It’s hard, hard work. The rewards are wonderful, but it takes effort, passion, commitment, and dedication.
MUZI: Istyleblaq follows the definition of Black Excellence, which is “someone that is black and portrays great qualities and abilities that make the black community proud.” You’re a black success story on the rise, with that said, What does Black Excellence mean to you?
ZOLISA: Black Excellence, to me, means taking the disadvantages that you have dealt with and turning them around to thrive and prosper. Black excellence is an acknowledgement that we need to find smart ways to constantly lift ourselves up until we are out of a place that has hundreds of years.
It’s up to us to put an end to it. There needs to be more black actors, more black entrepreneurs, more black doctors, more black architects. The level of our success is limited only by our imagination.
MUZI: Any current or future projects that you are busy with?
ZOLISA: Watch this space and subscribe to my Monthly NewsLetter email@example.com