Zolisa Xaluva is one of the best actors around—and one of the most underrated. He was born in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, and is well known for his roles in hit television shows such as Generations, Tsha Tsha, and The Queen, to name a few. Fans and critics no longer doubt Xaluva’s acting abilities, but his willingness to always kill all roles remains legendary.
Zolisa has established himself as an established actor and has appeared in popular drama series, but his recent appearance on Mzansi Magic’s telenovela ‘Gomora’ has left a positive impression on many viewers and critics.
Zolisa Xaluva talks to iStyleblaq.
MUZI: You’ve worked in the industry for an incredible 17 years – What has been your career highlight thus far, having worked for major productions?
ZOLISA: I believe that naming one specific experience as a “Career Highlight” would be an injustice to all of my collective experiences. Every project I’ve worked on has had its own set of challenges, successes (and sometimes failures), and rewards. I embraced each character with all of my passion and authenticity. I believe that if a viewer devotes a portion of their day, whether it’s half an hour or more, to watching my craft and character portrayal, I owe them my best performance.
MUZI: You graduated from Pretoria Technikon in 2003 after studying drama. What have you learned the most from your acting classes?
ZOLISA: Great question. You forgot to mention that I was also a student at WITS but had to drop out due to financial constraints. The most valuable lesson learned (relieved) was to never reach a point of arrival. Allow me to explain. As an actor, I am constantly pushing myself to improve my craft, learn more, and be better.
In some scenes, the director will instruct us to repeat the action in order to achieve the desired effect. When I see the finished product, I always tell myself, “I should have done this or that.”
MUZI: Who or what inspires you as an actor?
ZOLISA: In the words of a legendary actor (I will leave it for you to find out.) In my acting career, I am the person who inspires me. If you ask me the same question in ten years, I’ll still give you the same answer. My inspiration, drive, and motivation are my goals for the next ten years.
MUZI: Many artists are concerned about typecasting. What are your thoughts on typecasting?
ZOLISA: In order to be accepted by your audience, I believe you must be able to adapt to a variety of roles. Some actors will only be accepted in certain roles, and if they try to deviate from the “Norm,” they will either soar and thrive, or crash and burn.
Will Smith is someone I admire because he has played so many believable characters, despite his claim to fame as a misfit from West Philadelphia in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
It saddens me when certain ethnic groups only play certain roles and are unable to truly be accepted in different situations.
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: If you could give advice to young aspiring actors, what did you learn about the industry that you think others should know?
ZOLISA: NEVER GIVE UP. If you have a burning desire, it is for a reason. It will not be simple. People who are serious about business and those who want to be famous seem to be eliminated by time. I would recommend getting an agent first, followed by training. This training could take place at a university or a community center.
You must hire an agent. You need someone who knows people and can legally protect you. You’re on the Titanic without an agent. I’ve assisted several young people in finding suitable partners.
MUZI: Do you have any current or upcoming projects?
ZOLISA: Keep an eye on this space and sign up for my monthly newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org.