Not many a man can say, I have lived up to my name. His grandfather named him after his favourite actor, Jack Palance.
The SAFTA award-winner, actor Pallance Dladla is much taller than I imagined, his lean shoulders swallow me up in a heart-warming hug. As a well-trained actor, he looks me in the eye and speaks with much articulation. He doesn’t flinch at any question. His back is upright and he is ready to share his journey as one of South Africa’s most loved Actors.
He believes expression is his foundation.
That need to express, to communicate with people who can relate to my story. It’s about – Why I do this in the first place? Other people are just paying their bills -that’s justified, others just want the celebrity status and that’s still justified. As long as you don’t forget why you’re doing this. Every time you feel like you’re getting lost you go back to that.
Dladlas foundation also stems from self-discovery, he is very curious about the world and
I’m still trying to find out who I am and this medium is the best way for me to discover that. Whatever character I play I have to decide what voice I’m speaking to right now.
That’s why it’s important for me to play different characters and to be a part of different productions.
Coming from a theatre background I needed to find out what else I could do to evolve.
We can all attest to his growth, the revolution of an actor from story to glory.
Being a runner up on the second season of Class Act was no short-fall. It may have thwarted
his ego and challenged his confidence. But producer Amanda Lane and Dorothy Gould,
his theatre teacher, made a new man of him.
We’ve seen him surrender himself to many different roles; Jimmy from 4Play, Sizwe on Intersections, X – On Tempy Pushas, Sbu from Rhythm City, risk-taker TK from Hard to Get and the much loved Jabu on Isibaya.
There was a time before Hard To Get when I thought, what’s next now? I’ve done rhythm city; Isibaya and Intersexions but I still felt like I needed to grow.
Dladla attributes his success to the women in his life. “Somehow it’s always been women in my life.”
He was raised by his grandmother, aunt and mom. His grandfather and uncle were in and out of his life but those three women have stayed with him. And it seems they keep adding up; his agent – Moonyeenn Lee – also played her role in shaping the man we see on our screens.
Class Act launched a fresh breed of actors, one of which being Sdumo Mtshali. Pallance
speaks of him with reverence, as his blood, his partner in crime and business.
Every day we inspire each other to go beyond what anybody else has ever done. We get frustrated when we feel like we’re stuck in the same spot. People are saying we’re doing well and I see that but we need to do more than well. We’re trying to create something that’s never been done in the industry.
As an individual, you need to create the spaces you want to exist in if the world
you currently inhabit is exclusive. We’ve seen students protest about inaccessible education,
women reclaiming their bodies and galvanize against rape issues.
Growing up watching black actors he admired, he soon realized how some were exploited and died poor. Pallance is now heart set on changing the inequalities within the television industry.
Together with Sdumo Mtshali and Ntokozo Buthelezi, they started a production company to challenge industry issues and support talent. The production company seeks to Educate actors about their rights and royalties. It’ll serve to prioritize the creative process, end racial equality, bring about unity so that the crew and the writing department isolated from the actors and the production team isn’t too divided from the story. To create an environment where the entire team fully understands the vision behind the story.
The motivation behind this is Black Ownership.” He says. This initiative reminds me of a quote by Frans Fanon: “What matters is not to know the world, but to change it”
This is how Dladla is rewriting the industry, seeking to empower the Black Actor into
realizing his/her power and the importance of his/her story. He encourages unity and independence, hence venturing into owning a Production Company.
Each generation has it’s struggle and ours is to rid our industries of the post-colonial trauma, the Black inferiority complex. Black Ownership is the solution, we need to own our narrative.
Contrary to owning ones story, Dladla doesn’t want his life documented in a film as yet.
“If I die today, do not make a movie about me!” There I was waiting for a –I’m joking man. But he wasn’t. We’ve been in conversation for about 30mins and this is the first time I encounter his weakness.
His voice is a mixture of somber undertones, a vulnerability so rife in scent you could smell the modest analysis he makes of his achievements and it makes me gag.
I really feel I’m only starting to crack out of my shell right now. I feel like it’s still too soon for me to say I’ve done something. My story is far from complete, it hasn’t even begun.
He believes, it takes 10 000 hours to be an expert in something, after 20 000 hours of work one can say they’ve earned their stripes. He doesn’t claim to have paid his dues.
He still has to audition, when the director doesn’t write the character with him in mind or if
an international scout is in town. He is no different from anyone in the queue. He preps himself by researching as much as possible about the character and the story.
I don’t focus a lot on the lines I focus on the directors vision, what the story is about and what the character represents in the story. I get a genuine impression from the character, maybe from something similar that I saw, or someone that I know. That’s where I start, with an honest feeling.
The mind is a powerful tool, Pallance re-channels his mind to think of auditions as a place he goes
to contribute to the space. He doesn’t think of it as job hunting. He offers himself to the character then he walks away. This way of thinking elevates his confidence and adds value to the work that he does.
Auditioning brings out that fire in me! I take all these things as a learning experience, this is school for me
Many artists may debate the Arts Pedagogy utilized by academic institutions.
Is the curriculum practical for artist’s post academic qualification? Does it cover arts administration and arts entrepreneurship?
In his 2nd semester at Wits, Dladla dropped out due to the impractical theory based curriculum.
“Acting is doing” so he abandoned his degree and has been working since.
He believes this is his education. If he could build a school, the classrooms would be empty; he’d fill them with props. There’d be cameras and computers for editing; production and marketing classes.
The curriculum would teach artists how to make art more relevant and economically viable
as opposed to schools that claim to prepare you for employment yet deprive you of the necessary tools to become self-sufficient.
We hope that someday, institutions will give a more holistic approach to arts education.
That equality will be the order of the day in each production house
and that the black narrative will come from the black writer.
With such drive and ambition, Dladla will continue being the talk of the town, sealing contracts and snatching awards.