As fans across South Africa binge Showmax‘s new Original DAM, we sat down with one of the show’s lead actors who plays Themba, to find out what he is all about.
DAM is a small-town psychological thriller set in the Eastern Cape that follows the story of a young woman named Yola (Lea Vivier), who returns from Chile to bury her estranged father.
To her surprise, and her sister’s irritation, he’s left his farm to her, but this may be more of a curse than a blessing, as the house seems to be trying to tell her something.
But with her mother institutionalized, and her own meds running out, Yola has to wonder if the spirits are real or just in her head?
She also has to deal with uncovering her family’s deep, dark secrets – one of which is a land claim by Lazurus – uncle to Themba (played by two-time SAFTA winner Pallance Dladla.
What can viewers expect from your storyline in DAM?
Themba is a charming, charismatic, fun guy. He’s a free spirit but that’s just the persona; Themba really wants to find a home and everything that represents: belonging, tribe, to love and be loved.
What is one thing that you love about the character you’re playing?
His deep sense of integrity. And that he rides a bike. That was definitely one thing that got me excited about the role. I’m a fan of old movies and that vintage style – that James Dean kind of hero. That’s part of the reason why I bought a bike. I’ve been watching those films since I was a kid so that image of me on the bike in DAM – that was my dream forever. I’m just glad I got to do that in real life and on screen.
And one thing that you don’t like?
I have to love him to play him honestly. I have to understand and like what he’s doing, even if I personally don’t agree with it. I wouldn’t dare do some of the things he does: he’s very brave. But I’d love to have those qualities.
If you weren’t an actor, what other profession would you have pursued?
As long as there’s an artform out there to tell stories, I’d do that. I’d just diversify into screenplay writing or directing or creative producing, because I love putting the right people together.
What shows do you watch in your downtime?
Documentaries. I’m always interested in the man behind the art or the sport, in what makes champions and heroes and leaders. Tiger, the Tiger Woods documentary, was brilliant. And Chasing the Sun – that was one of the most amazing documentaries I’ve seen in this country. The hope – that’s something we all need, man. I also love watching sports, specifically UFCA, MMA and rugby. And of course films – I try to watch every genre, just to understand different styles of filmmaking and storytelling.
What songs/albums are on your 2021 playlist?
Maverick City Music. It’s gospel and I love it. And Batsumi. I don’t know how to express it – it’s spiritual, traditional jazz from the 1970s. I love listening to jazz and blues: Hugh Masekela, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, John Coltrane. But just like with movies, I move from genre to genre. It’s really all about storytelling and trying to understand how different stories are told, how the same theme can be told in different ways.
If you’re the type to cook, which dish did you work on perfecting during lockdown?
Anything pescatarian or vegetarian. I cooked a seafood pasta last night.
Once lockdown is officially lifted world-wide, where are you travelling to?
Wherever the seas take me. I’d like to spin the globe and go there.
What do you miss most about pre-pandemic life?
Traveling. I’ve been to Europe and the States, and I’ve got friends and mentors and family there, so I miss them.
And I miss how things were on set. There’s always been uncertainty in the industry but not like now. At any given time, the shoot could stop. And it affects how we work because we have to social distance, and if there’s anything physical in the scene, you have to get tested. It affects shots, because you can’t have as big a crew. There are so many protocols now. But we find ways to adapt.
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