Stella Dlangalala on taking on Tiny in Gomora S3

By TVPlus12 August 2022

Stella Dlangalala on taking on Tiny in Gomora S3

In the past couple of years, Stella Dlangalala has successfully solidified her name in the television industry. From appearing on hit telenovelas such as The Wife and The River, it is not surprising that Stella is now sharpening her acting skills in Gomora Season 3.

Showmax chats with the multi-talented actress as we find out what makes her tick and more.

How does your latest role as Tiny in telenovela Gomora differ from characters you’ve played in the past?

She is a boss lady, and she is an established entrepreneur – one of the businesses that she owns in Alexandra township is a shisanyama. Tiny returns 10 years after her divorce to rebuild her business, which was recently looted. She is a control freak, yet she is soft.

I’ve always played masculine characters – like Three20 in telenovela The Wife, and a pantsula dancer in Jiva!. Tiny, on the other hand, is gentle, and she wears wigs and carries herself in a classy manner, which is intriguing. I remember watching Gomora and praying to be part of the cast – and now it has happened, which is refreshing.

When I received the script for Gomora, the character was still in the early days. In one of her first scenes, she walks into a room, and she fires someone from their job. She is a no-nonsense kind of woman, and I like portraying that side because I can be like that, too. I know how to be tough because I grew up in a house filled with brothers. Tiny’s ladylike characteristics are harder to portray, so she takes me out of my comfort zone, which is a great challenge.

How would you describe yourself in four words?

I’m curious, constantly evolving and hopeful.

I say that I’m curious because I’m always questioning things and how the world works.

In other words, I’m an anxious person, so I tend to overthink, sometimes to a fault. I always think, “What can I do better and why am I feeling this way?”. I question my feelings, thoughts and other people’s opinions [of the world], which has come in handy in my acting career. 

Next, I embrace change – like to experiment and explore different versions of myself.

Finally, I’m in an industry which needs you to be hopeful, especially when things don’t go your way. I’m sensitive and certain things affect me more because I wear my heart on my sleeve. When I get disappointed, it takes me longer to recover, but I always get back up because I have an optimistic outlook on life.

How would you describe your acting journey? In an interview, you compared it to a long queue at the Department of Home Affairs. What did you mean by that?

My acting journey – much like my personal journey – hasn’t been easy. It has been a rocky and steep uphill road. There have been a lot of unpredictable moments that have required patience.
When you’re at the Department of Home Affairs, even if you wake up early and you’re prepared, you might wait in a long queue.

At times, you get to the end of the line and the [desk clerk] will ask, “Do you have that form?” And when you don’t have it, you are told to return the next day. It’s much like acting, you go for auditions, and you get rejected because you’re not tall enough, or you’re not what the casting director is looking for. So, you go to other auditions. It’s a waiting game. Or at times, the desk clerk might call your name and give you your document, you heave a sigh of relief because it’s finally your chance to shine. You realise that the waiting wasn’t in vain, which is what I feel when I’m booked for a role.

When did it feel like you’d made it to the end of that long queue?

It was after I was cast as Lady E in dance series Jiva! (2021). Before playing the role, I went to plenty of auditions and faced a lot of rejection. My first role was short, and it was in telenovela The River. I thought that the character would grow but that didn’t go as I expected. So, when I got Lady E, I was excited.

How did you keep yourself busy while facing that rejection?

I grew my social media accounts and started creating content. I realised that I enjoy putting myself out there. As a result, I showcased my talent and grew my following. Besides social media, I teach dance and fitness classes – anything to get my creative juices flowing.

You’re also a stand-up comedian?

Yes. I started with skits on Facebook, and I received positive feedback. I wondered whether the jokes would translate in real life, so I joined a comedy club in 2018, and to my surprise, people laughed at my jokes. I continued with stand-up comedy, and I was one of the comedians invited to take part in Funny People Africa – a stand-up comedy series, that celebrates a range of comedians in Africa.

After lockdown, though, I took a break from stand-up but I’m trying to get back into it, and I’ll be busy with shows during Women’s Month. I love making people laugh and sharing my hilarious personal experiences. I just hope that when I tell these stories, people can relate to my stories and laugh along.

Talking about Three20, tell us more about your breakthrough role?

The Wife is one of the most watched shows in the country and what an interesting character to introduce the world to me! The casting director saw my reels on Instagram and how I switch to different personalities, and she thought that I would be suited to play the role. She told me to send an audition tape, and I gave it my all. My actor friend Thabo Rametsi (Solomon in film Kalushi, 2016 – also available on Showmax) helped me prepare.

What attracted me to Three20 is that she is complex, she is a convict, and she battles with schizophrenia. To prepare for the role, I watched videos of people who live with the condition. I wanted her to be believable. I knew that once I joined The Wife, my acting had to be on par because the actors in the show are fantastic, and I was going to be acting alongside Lerato Mvelase, so I put my best foot forward.

You’re also a TikTok star?

Yes, people recognise me more from TikTok than they do from my TV roles. On TikTok, I tap into different characters, there’s an old man with no teeth, a vivacious young woman and many others. Playing these different characters helped me prepare to play Three20, because I shift between personalities.

The bigger compliment for me is when people don’t recognise that my TikTok characters are the same person – me. That reminds me that I’m on the right path.

What kind of roles would you like to portray in the future?

I would like to carry a gun and kick people while I jump out of a moving car – an action role would be good. I would also like to play a dramatic role, where I cry and tap into my sad emotions. And I also would love to act in something light, such as a goofy rom-com.

Catch Stella Dlangalala on Gomora Season 3, weekly new episodes available to stream on Showmax.

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