I've been blocked from roles because of my accent, says actor Luthuli Dlamini
Veteran actor Luthuli Dlamini has one of the most unique accents on SA TV screens, but the star reveals that he has been denied several acting opportunities because of it.
Speaking to TMG Entertainment in a sit down interview recently, Luthuli opened up about the struggles of the industry and says that he has "definitely" been overlooked for certain roles over the last few years because of his accent.
"Especially in the last five years or so when they (film producers) are looking for an authentic Zulu accent and a delivery that is authentically Zulu," Luthuli explains.
He revealed that the snubs have affected him and believes that he would have been able to fill the roles if he was given the opportunity.
"It has affected me because I feel like, given the script and if the dialogue is given to me in Zulu, I can learn it like any other language. There are a number of Zulu roles, or vernacular roles, that I would have loved to play but weren't given because of my accent," he says.
The long road home
Luthuli's accent comes from his early years, being raised in England. It was here that he got much of his schooling and where he later worked in several jobs to try and support his young family.
Eventually the Zimbabwean-born actor decided to return to Southern Africa, and settled in South Africa.
"It's home. It was the quality of life that I wanted. You just don't have the space in the UK, you don't have the variety and terrain, and here you have all the beauty of Africa around you," he says of his decision to move to South Africa.
Rivalled by his love for the continent is the actor's love for acting.
"I knew from very early on that I wanted to be an actor. I knew that I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it. Even when I had a professional job I would rush to my amateur acting classes and do stage. That was my grounding," he says.
It was about 17 years ago that Luthuli finally made the move from stage to TV, on the Anant Singh-produced TV show The Res.
"It was f*cking nerve-racking, to say the least," he says of his first TV role in South Africa.
What followed was an illustrious acting career that has seen him play some of the most recognisable roles in SA TV history.
Life like a soap opera
And while he has been praised for his starring roles in several high-profile movies and theatre productions, Luthuli is known by many of his fans for his roles in TV soapies Generations and Scandal! But even these have drawn controversy.
Luthuli made headlines several years ago when it was reported that he had been fired from Scandal! after he apparently stopped pitching up for work. He was later released from Generations after a similar incident.
"After two-and-a-half years on a soapie I had lost the passion," he says of his first stint on Scandal!
"After about a year I feel like I've pretty much battered a character and there's nothing more to learn from it creatively," he explains.
With that now behind him, Luthuli is focusing on his current TV roles, and reveals that his next career move is firmly behind the camera.
"I want to produce now. I want to tell my own stories, shoot them and everything. I'm inspired by history and heritage. I have stories that are spread across Africa and are unique to each area of the continent. We have enough stories here that still need to be told," he says.