Khaya Dladla on 19 years in the entertainment industry

We caught up with Khaya Dladla who plays the flamboyant GC on Uzalo

What has it been like to work on Uzalo?

It’s been the biggest rollercoaster. Joining Uzalo was a career upgrade more than anything. Remember, I’ve been in entertainment for such a long time, and Uzalo came about in my 17th year in entertainment; I started young.

When I joined the show, everything turned around. I could never get used to the reactions I’m getting, the calls I get, the endorsements … It’s so weird how I’ve been [in the industry] for such a long time but because the show is on a public platform, only now have people started acknowledging my work. I’m really enjoying it.

Tell us about your beginnings in entertainment.

I went to a ballet and acting academy at age six. I graduated at eight – I had a monologue to recite, a song to sing and a dance piece to do. After I’d performed that, a producer that was working on a theatre show called me over. We waited for my parents so he could speak to them about casting me in his show.

READ MORE: Catching up with Uzalo’s Dawn Thandeka King

Next thing I knew, I had rehearsals to prepare for and I had a show. After that, it was gig after gig after gig. Even in high school, I’d be away for like three months and I’d have to come back and do assignments alone, write tests alone – I had my own timetable.

When it came to varsity, I first registered at an art school, but I was literally there for two weeks. I’d been working as an artist for so long, and realised that everything I was being taught me were things I’d already been doing and things I knew. I decided to change my course and studied marketing instead.

What has Uzalo done for your career and your brand?

Uzalo has been magical for the trajectory of my career. Everyone who was an artist in Durban knew who I was because we’ve worked together on different theatre shows – but no one know about my talent nationally. So when Uzalo came along, it broadened my reach and gave my brand a new dimension.

I’d never wanted to do television before, and as such, Uzalo was my first TV audition. I had to do it twice before I got it.

Were you surprised by people’s reaction to your character?

I was. I chose to play a gay character quite differently from what had been done before in the country. I had to do my research, and part that was sitting in salons with gay people in the township and studying how they spoke, their mannerisms and the kind of language they used. I was excited to play the character because I enjoyed tapping into that type of fun personality.