NYANISO DzeDze is on a rather serendipitous streak at the moment.
This talented, fresh-faced youngster has found himself on the media radar for his two upcoming projects: the soon-to-be-released Hear Me Move, which is making a lot of noise as South Africa’s first dance film, and e.tv’s first telenovela, Ashes to Ashes.
A Bachelor of Arts in dramatic arts graduate from Wits University, DzeDze says he gravitated towards the performing arts when he was in high school.
He recalls: “I was encouraged by my history teacher to do Grease. Then I just fell in love with acting, holistically. From then on I just knew that I was going to study drama.”
And he got to hone his craft on stage for the better part of his fledgling career – that’s not forgetting a handful of short films for Mzansi Magic and commercials in between. He also toured several European countries with a contemporary dance piece, mixed with acting.
In his baby steps, he also met some pretty amazing mentors and industry people along the way. James Ngcobo is among them.
On how he came to bag the role of Muzi, the lead in Hear Me Move, he shares: “When I returned from my tour, Scotness L Smith (the producer and director) got in touch with me. We knew each other from Wits. He told me about this movie and asked if I was keen to audition.”
By the way, the movie has a Step Up feel with a pungent South African flavour. And it boasts a fêted local cast: from Amanda Du Pont, Boity Thulo, Trevor Gumbi, Lorcia Cooper to Thembi Seete.
As for the movie making a big noise at the moment, he laughs: “I didn’t expect it to be doing the things that it is doing. Everybody gave their heart to it (shows in the performance). I guess it is now up to the universe on how people receive it.”
Shedding light on his character and the premise, he notes: “I play Muzi. He is the son of an acclaimed pantsula dancer, who is killed while out celebrating with friends after a tour. And so Muzi’s mother had to raise him alone. Given the past, she is determined to keep her son from getting involved in the dance business. However, he can’t help but follow his passion and ends up having a secret life, performing at underground dance events. The story just evolves from there and Muzi then becoming focused on discovering what happened to his father, too.”
The dance form in the movie is called, sbujwa, which originated from pantsula.
Back to Ashes to Ashes, he says: “This is my first notable TV stamp. It is very exciting for me. And it’s on par with Hear Me Move as in this is another pioneering project. The telenovela is centred on a family that runs a funeral business. Within this business, though, there are family secrets that come out in the aftermath of a funeral.
“I play the eldest of a family of four – there is a twist to that. Tsietsi has been holding the mantle and keeping the family strong. He does things that push the moral boundary. He feels that doing a bit of bad to get a bit of good is necessary. The ends justify the means, kind of thing. Personally, he feels misunderstood.”
The actor laughs: “A lot of viewers will think he is an assh**e. If he has to bribe someone, he will. If violence is necessary to take care of a situation, he makes it happen.”
DzeDze says he loves this role because he gets to stray from always playing the good guy or a romantic lead.
Viewers should brace themselves because the actor has a wardrobe that’s as striking as his menacing character.
He explains: “Tsietsi is a man who firmly believes in you are how you dress. He is very suave. Wears only tailor-made suits and bling watches. And his hair is always in tip-top shape.”
The young actor says he has worked with the most amazing cast, where the veterans were nothing but helpful and mentoring.
With his star on a meteoric rise, DzeDze is also mindful of not getting too big a head. Instead, he says, he will defer to his agent and people in the industry when it comes to dealing with the attention as he moves ahead in his career.
The managing director of e.tv channels division, Monde Twala, is equally keyed up about e.tv introducing DzeDze.
He commented: “One of the guys I’m pretty excited about is Nyaniso. He is one of our lead young characters in Ashes to Ashes. And he has just finished a movie, Hear Me Move. There is something special about him.”
• Ashes to Ashes will air from Monday to Thursday on e.tv from Monday, March 2 at 8pm.
GETTING TO KNOW DZEDEZE
• He loves being active and keeping fit.
• He isn’t into cooking. But won’t pass up on a chance to have his mum’s lasagne or girlfriend’s stir fry.
• He loves riding his motorbike.
• He enjoys watching true-life dramas and action films. Ray and Training Day are among his favourites.
• He is hoping to maintain his groundbreaking streak by doing more series and film.