By Gilmore Tee
We caught up with the leading lady of Zimbabwe’s first Ndebele Sci-Fi Movie – The Signal, which recently premiered at a sold-out event in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. The ground-breaking film is about a deadly sound transmitted from space known as “The Signal” which then goes on to corrupt the minds of all who hear it, turning them into soulless demons under its control. Natasha Dlamini, who has featured on other productions such as Netflix’s Queen Sono, DSTV’s Tangled and Veza The Movie, plays the role of Mary, a character she says taught her that the only limit to an actor’s performance is their imagination.
Talking about The Signal, Natasha says that the role came at a time when she needed to believe in the promise of tomorrow. She was out of Zimbabwe when she received a call from the Producer & Director – Daniel Lasker, known for acting on HBO Max – Raised By Wolves.
“ I received a message from him to which I responded with a YES. I did not tell him that I was not in the country because somehow I felt strongly that it was my time. The most amazing thing is that even now I feel like I made the right choice. It’s an honour to be part of history-making and breaking the landscape of Zimbabwean and African film.”
Just like any other child, at the age of 5, Natasha wanted to be everything, from a doctor, nurse, waitress and lawyer. After school, she would go back home and play with her imaginary friends who took her into a world of possibilities, where everything and anything was possible. One would say her acting started at that early age as she got to play different roles and drifted into different worlds on a daily basis. She highlights that she would never change anything from her childhood as she strongly believes that it is that which fuelled her acting now, the ability to see things from a different point of view, embrace them and allow someone else to experience that through you.
“My fondest memories growing up are the little things really. The hugs from my mum every day before going to school and the affirmations from her made me a happy child. I also hold daily the love my parents pushed for my baby brother and I, we would literally walk to school holding hands. That feeling of being responsible for another human being was and is still priceless. Now that I am older, I would really like to thank my younger self for letting me escape myself to be anyone I wanted to be at that time. Thank you for being bold enough and for familiarising my spirit with what has become the biggest love of my life, “Acting”. I hope you are proud of who I am and whom I am yet to become”
Her initial career path was never to land in audition rooms casting for film and television roles. Natasha Dlamini grew up an academic child who wanted to pursue law as a first option. After finishing her Advanced Level, she applied for a scholarship to study law, which unfortunately never came her way. One day while perusing the newspaper, she came across an acting advertorial that required her to travel to Harare for the casting. She clearly remembers feeling at home when she was in the audition room, which then became the first day of meeting her true self.
“What I admire the most about my craft is that when you create a character you can’t judge it, you just have to play it truthfully because it’s important that we tell the truth as much as possible in our craft so that people feel less alone. Each of the few productions I have been a part of, has taught me different qualities such as patience, hard work, love, strength and handling rejection ”
On taking up the role of Mary on the first ever Zimbabwean Sci-Fi, which was acted in isiNdebele, a language mostly spoken in the South side of Zimbabwe, Natasha talks about how she was never a Sci-Fi fan and had to watch at least 5 Sci-Fi films a day, listen to audiobooks and trying to understand the vocal journey of the characters in that particular world. She had to learn how to react to things that are not on set, tapping into the imagination while playing her character. She describes the preparation as “intense”
Just like the powerful Mary, the role she plays in the film, Natasha lists Oprah Winfrey, Thuso Mbedu and her Mother, as strong women who inspire her. She describes them as relatable, strong characterised and hardworking. She adds on to talk about some key lessons she has learnt along the way as an actress and above all a human being.
“My craft has taught me that as actors we are living people’s private lives in public, we are exposing and taking the mask off. I need to have humility too because acting is about understanding human behaviour and it’s impossible to do so when you are not humble.”
Before partying ways with this gorgeous, humble Zimbabwean actress, we asked her, What does the future hold for Natasha Dlamini:
“That is a hard question because I have never planned my life. I allow God to plan it for me every day, but as a person that loves affirming her thoughts and mind I think what is next is to continue working hard at the characters I craft and hope for God to align me with only the stories I am supposed to tell before I die.”
Written by Gilmore Tee.