Bonang Matheba, 28
She beams down from billboards in South Africa, is a presenter on two premier TV lifestyle shows, was voted the most stylish and sexiest celebrity in the country, travels the world rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous but if fate hadn’t intervened, Matheba would be teaching pre-school children English. That was her dream, even with a distinction in matric.
“I am a Cancerian, I am a nurturer at heart. I love children and I just wanted to work with them but the wind blew me in a different direction and I’m really grateful, now I can’t imagine my life doing anything else.”
Matheba grew up in Mafikeng, in the North West province, surrounded by a family of academics. Her mother, a business executive, a stepfather lawyer and her professor father, were initially concerned when she didn’t follow the academic route but eventually made peace with her choice when they saw her focus and passion.
“I used to sing and dance and I loved being the center of attention from the age of seven or eight. I got attention from everyone, including my aunts and uncles, because I was the only child and grandchild for the longest time.”
At age 15, destiny would see her enrolling for a television presenting course. She was ushered into the world of television through SABC2’s Manhattan Fantasy but it was the music show Live on SABC1, with seven million viewers, that launched her career. She became a regular voice on YFM radio, and is now on MetroFM. Her popularity and exposure would soar to such heights that she became the first face of Revlon outside the United States.
None of this came easy for a woman with over a million followers on Twitter and over half a million on Instagram. She was turned down at least 25 times on auditions before her first break. Live rejected her six times, YFM ignored seven of her demos and Metro four.
“Top Billing as well, I went through an audition after an audition after an audition. You know with me I’m very resilient. There’s always a voice at the back of my mind that says push, push. People say no to me so many times but I’ve learnt that they are not rejecting me as a human being, it’s just that at that particular time I’m not what they are looking for,” says Matheba.
She also runs Bonang Matheba Entertainment (a production company) and has a lingerie line with Woolworths.
“Entertainment has a very short life span. For me, longevity has always been a very big part of it. The only way you do it is by expanding [your business] because, let’s face it, I won’t look like this for the rest of my life and I understood that from a very young age.”
The year 2016 for Queen B, as she’s known, is about giving back. She is sponsoring a young lady who wants to study her master’s. In September, she will be taking girls from across the country to a seven-day motivation camp.
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