S’dumo Mtshali had audiences riveted when he played a good cop turning bad in the South African heist thriller iNumber Number.
Mtshali gave a brilliant performance in the film that premiered at Toronto International Film Festival and won the Audience Choice award at Jozi Film Festival.
But it won’t be a life changer for the cast because South Africans prefer watching TV to going to the movies, Mtshali says. “It’s still the TV industry that rules everything in this country.”
Fortunately he’s a hot favourite for TV roles too, appearing in isiBaya, Intersexions and Rhythm City.
Mtshali studied acting at Durban University of Technology and landed the lead in iNumber Number by winning the SABC1 reality competition Class Act in 2010.
His prize also sent him to the New York Film Academy for eight weeks to further his acting skills.
“Class Act was a boot camp for learning film, and New York was more about going back to the basic stuff I’d learned in drama school. It was great in the sense of really trying to find what I can do for myself in the industry and what my worth is.”
He believes his worth lies in telling stories.
“We are of the generation right now that really needs to tell our stories our way. We are bombarded with how they do it in Hollywood and the UK and we need to find our own South African way and understand what our audiences want.”
Young, black South African men need to discover their own worth to make themselves and this country something special, he believes.
He has already achieved a major goal that he set himself as a child.
“My goal when I was 12 was that by the time I was 30 I’d be playing the lead role in a film, and we shot iNumber Number when I was 29 and released it when I was 30.”
His next goal is to identify how he can contribute to growing the local film industry, perhaps through script writing, running his own company and making his own shows. “I need to work harder and smarter,” he says. — Lesley Stones