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Experiencing Ayanda!

Ayanda Dube Interview by Jen Bush

Ayanda Dube is an actress hailing from South Africa.  It seems that acting was an ideal career choice for Ms. Dube.  It requires a great deal of emotion and she’s got plenty of it to share.  “I am a seeker of emotional experiences and encounters. I think I became an artist from the moment I was born because I’ve always been such an absorber of other people’s energies. I mostly act on emotion and have been interested in how other people feel too. From a young age I was in dance classes because I needed to direct my energy somewhere. I started teaching kids my age English and stories I’d hear at school because I wanted to share with others. Stories gave me such immense joy and being a part of them, an even greater joy. I started going to acting classes with my cousin because we just thought it’d be fun, all of these things happened very naturally which is why I was surprised when I thought this path wasn’t for me. It’s always been for me. I was an avid reader and creator from a young age, and this fostered my creativity.” 

 As many international artists do, Ms. Dube recognized that coming to America to study and work would give her more prospects and visibility.  “There are roles of a lifetime here and America is the land of opportunities. I came to an acting school in Los Angeles because I wanted to get out of comfort zone and challenge myself. I needed independence to truly flourish and figure my own voice for myself. My favorite performers are here, best acting teachers are here and ANY artist in the world knows that this is where dreams really come true. I wanted to dream big, bigger than where I am from, and my dreams led me here. But my heart will always belong in South Africa because that’s where I became an artist, I can’t wait to show America the wonderful talent back home.” 

Ms. Dubes was drawn to acting as a means to channel and convey her energies and emotions.  “I knew at a young age that I was an individual with a deep emotional well but I am naturally shy. I knew that I needed to express all of these feelings and ideas somewhere – that’s how I got into acting. I always say that acting is a very personal thing to me, it’s like therapy. The stage and camera are the only two places where  I can fully express myself without feeling judged – which is ironic right? But I can just let it all out and might inspire others to do that too.” 

Ms. Dube’s creative process contains traditional and innovative approaches.  In real life, if a person is deciding who to date or who to befriend, they often observe how other people treat and interact with that individual.  Ms. Dube does that with the characters she is creating.  “Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.  When I tackle a role, I read the script about 10 times so that I get familiar with the world. Because when you know the world, you can be free enough to truly explore it. And then I observe what other characters say about my character, how do they treat them? What’s their relationship? Because that’s how you know people, through other people. This may not be accurate though, well most often. Then I finally meet my character and pay attention to how they are introduced in the script. What mannerisms can they have, how do they walk, how do they deal with conflict? How do they make me feel? Then the exchange happens where I see what we have in common – I offer myself to the character. A sort of emotional merge happens where I adopt the most private traits that they have, and work forward. It’s emotionally exhausting, but I love it.” 

Ms. Dube was fortunate to have an abundance of support, encouragement, and inspiration from her family.  “I owe them everything because they pushed me when I couldn’t do it myself. They always encourage me to embrace my sensitivity because that’s what I offer to the world. Genuinely couldn’t be here without them.” 

Women and ethnic people in the entertainment industry are still facing challenges in terms of how they are perceived and treated.  Being an ethnic international woman trying to navigate this industry came with some obstacles for Ms. Dube.  “How much time do you have? Being international has been both a blessing and a curse. There’s definitely an individuality that comes with being an international actress here, yet that individuality can be a bit isolating at times. You often feel that you can’t really cater to the American audience.  I’ve learnt that you can be something new and fresh and exciting. Being a black woman here is more of the bigger obstacle. People talk down to you or you feel like you have to conceal a bit of your true self. I’ve also learnt to use that to my advantage. Gotta keep a thick skin on you so you can make it here. Or even try.” 

 The pandemic impacted every industry in the world.  Ms. Dube has some opinions on both the positives and the negatives resulting from the pandemic.  “Opportunities. Opportunities. Opportunities! Self-tapes have made it accessible for EVERYONE to have a shot.  You have the chance to really “perfect” your audition. However, the chemistry that comes with in person auditions has been lost.  I also think the world went through some sort of cleansing and the industry realized that hey, there’s more than just white people in the world.  There are more opportunities for poc and queer actors now. All I can say is, it’s about damn time.”

Ms. Dube has some stage and screen opportunities that are coming up next for her.  With her positive attitude, drive and work ethic, there should be plenty more after that!  “Growth. I just want to learn more and grow as an actor and a creative in general. But for a more tangible response, a sitcom show might be in the works with a few friends of mine. I’m falling more in love with theater and I have a couple of plays up for next year. I’m at a place where I’m really hopeful for the future, and that feels great.” 

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