In giving presenters a platform, the industry sometimes gives birth to prima donnas. But not everyone is a controversial time bomb. After a decade in the industry, Step Up or Step Out host Dalen Lance remains grounded and retains his humility. Debashine Thangevelo found out how he dodged the narcissistic bullet that ends careers and how he is finding his new platform on kykNET’s Dagbreek….

OVER a decade in the industry, Dalen Lance has learned how to survive a major pitfall of fame – bigheadedness.

He registered on the media radar from humble beginnings as a hopeful on M-Net’s Idols in 2002 and, later, on SABC’s Popstars.

While singing was his passion, presenting proved to be his forte. He presented High School Musical, Bling!, 20-Something, and, more recently, Step Up Or Step Out.

Sporting an admirably toned physique, Lance was the epitome of charm – sans any underlying plastic allure – when we met to chat about what’s been keeping him busy these days.

Born in Atlantis, a small town in the Western Cape, he notes that his close-knit family keeps him grounded. He says, “Two friends of mine reminded me of something Oprah said to Lance (Armstrong) and it is, ‘Fame magnifies who you are anyway. So if you are an a******e, you will be an even bigger a******e…

“If your basis is that you always want to entertain people, as in my case, where I want to impact on people positively, especially the community I come from, where there is a history of alcohol, physical and emotional abuse in those small communities, it is magnified.

“I’m thankful to my sisters – I have two siblings – who moved to Joburg before I did.

“My older sister is highly successful in the marketing sphere. And the minute I got here, I started doing a lot of shows and I got a bit crazy (my head stuck-up slightly). She called me out on it every single time and put me in check. At the time, I thought she was uncom- fortable or didn’t like the fact I acted that way.

“Little did I know what she was doing then. And only, 10 years later, with me turning 30, it becomes very clear – she schooled me.”

Given the trend with presenters becoming even bigger than the shows they present, Lance says it is crucial to remain humble.

The affable presenter explains, “Humility comes from knowing you are part of something much bigger than what you are – you are but a pawn on a chessboard. We are all part of a team.”

He also went on to point out that humility doesn’t necessarily mean you have to play things down; sometimes it means understanding yourself – both your weaknesses and your strengths – and being confident in who you are.

Although he has explored the acting realm with film credits for Dollars and White Pipes and Zenon 3, including some stage work, he admits that presenting gives him a different kind of rush and enhances his objective to be as honest as he possibly can.

Currently part of the six faces on kykNET’s Dagbreek, which airs from 5.30am to 7.30am, he says, “I started in November as their anchor for fitness. I chose to do all the pre-recorded shows because I wanted to become familiar with Afrikaans presenting. Give me English, it is my second nature. While the person is talking to you, you can prepare the next question in your head. But presenting in Afrikaans is different…”

And, despite him adjusting to presenting in another language, he has proven to be a natural on the show.

Well, it’s that combined with his playful personality and penchant for fun that surfaces. With the show covering everything from sport, music, fashion, business and weather to agriculture, it has certainly captivated its target market.

I guess the one drawback of being a breakfast show presenter is the early morning wake-up call – but Lance has remedied that problem.

“In the morning, I’m grumpy, but I blossom in the day,” he laughs. “But you have to be perky, especially for a breakfast show. Now I have four coffees, and double doses of sugar.”

Using his savvy, this level-headed presenter is not only able to make the industry his personal play- ground, he also keeps it real.

• Dagbreek is on kykNET on weekdays at 5.30am.