Cape Town - Brace yourself! There is a new movie in town, and its sizzling cast is getting to grips with Zulu culture.
US actor Darrin Dewitt Henson will star in a new South African romantic comedy called Zulu Wedding, which will hit our big screens in March next year.
Henson is best known for his role as Lem Van Adams on the TV drama series Soul Food, and is currently working on a TV show with US actress Vivica A Fox called Black Magic.
What's it about?
In Zulu Wedding, Henson plays Tex, who falls in love with choreographer Lungile, played by former Generations actress Nondumiso Tembe.
He follows her to South Africa to prove his love for her and wants to pay lobola.
Henson jokes that in the movie he had to carry goats for the first time in his life. “Hah! That goat was too heavy,” he laughs.
Zulu Wedding is about Lungile’s attempts to avoid falling in love. She is also loath to go home to South Africa, where she is traditionally engaged to a king.
However, when she meets her soul mate, Tex, she has to face her complicated past.
Henson on filming in South Africa
Henson says he is excited to be in South Africa and has learnt a lot about Zulu people and culture.
He "loves it" when people greet each other in isiZulu with "Sawubona", to which the response is, "Sharp sharp".
"What is interesting is that here women can also give handshakes. In America only men can do that. It is profound that this is not only a guy thing but also African," he says.
He finds Zulu people to be "very shy".
"Being black myself and knowing that Africa is in my DNA, I was excited about coming here. Then I found out how much love people from here have for me because of Soul Food, in the movie and TV series formats," he says.
"Everywhere I went people were hugging, kissing and taking pictures of me. People are so friendly. I have been here for six weeks now and I am having a great time. Hmmmm! And the food is very spicy and amazing."
A @lineosekeleoane production: #Zuluweddingmovie coming soon to your nearest cinema. Featuring @nondumisotembe as LungileA photo posted by Pallance (@pallancedladla) on Aug 28, 2016 at 11:22pm PDT
A @lineosekeleoane production: #Zuluweddingmovie coming soon to your nearest cinema. Featuring @nondumisotembe as Lungile
A photo posted by Pallance (@pallancedladla) on Aug 28, 2016 at 11:22pm PDT
How is it different from filming in America?
Asked about the differences between shooting movies here in South Africa and in his native US, he says: "To be honest, you guys are a little bit slower than we are."
Zulu Wedding also stars local heart-throb Pallance Dladla, as well as veteran actors Treasure Tshabalala and Jerry Phele, actresses Kelly Khumalo and Bubu Mazibuko, choreographer Lorcia Cooper and another US actor, Carl Payne.
Payne, best known for his role as Cole Brown on the TV sitcom Martin, says he feels privileged working with Henson because they have worked together before and they both connected with the script. In the movie, he portrays Nate, a wise-cracking, sharp lawyer.
"Darrin and I have known each other for some time and the chemistry is already there. I provide the comedy; I don’t have to be so heavy," says Payne.
"I am having an awesome time here. I have learnt a lot about Zulu and Sotho culture. I love the reed dance. I got to experience it as I was shooting the movie."
“What I’ve learnt is that there is no difference between South Africans and Americans. We’ll react to things the same way. We have the same behaviour and types of responses,” he says.
#zuluweddingmovie #clubscene #kongnightclub. DP: Lance Gewer Gaffer: Manny SitholoA photo posted by Alex Jones (@miss_alex_jones) on Aug 30, 2016 at 6:27am PDT
#zuluweddingmovie #clubscene #kongnightclub. DP: Lance Gewer Gaffer: Manny Sitholo
A photo posted by Alex Jones (@miss_alex_jones) on Aug 30, 2016 at 6:27am PDT
Payne has been working hard
Payne adds that just because South Africans last saw him on TV years ago, it does not mean he has been out of a job.
"You guys get stuff late in the year. All the things I’ve been doing you’ll see later. I just finished shooting three movies. It is best to be an international actor and it is also important to connect with other cultures and be part of the world. You cannot put yourself in a box," he says.
Asked if he thinks he is “hot” in the film, he laughs: "There’s lot of hotness here. Everyone is hot here. But I think Nondumiso is so cool."
Dladla is a home-grown hottie who portrays the king, Zwelibanzi Zulu, in the film.
His character is suave and good-looking, and has the air of authority characteristic of those born for leadership positions.
He says he is excited to play a character who is a global African and is proud of his culture.
"I am connecting with my character because it speaks to me and my culture. As Pallance, knowing izithakazelo [clan names] has always been part of who I am, and I’m proud to say I know my roots and where I come from," he said.
"I am honoured to be working with such an amazing and renowned cast who take their craft seriously.
"Most importantly, their work is recognised nationally."
Dladla is full of praise for the film’s director and producer, Lineo Sekeleoane, who is the brain behind Zulu Wedding. “Lineo is the first female producer I have worked with in my acting career.
"It is wonderful to see women leading in a male-dominated industry," he adds.
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