With 13 years’ experience in showbiz, South African Media Personality Bonang Matheba is arguably one of the biggest showbiz personalities in South Africa that have carved a niche for herself. Bonang has shared stage with respected international and local performers as a Master of Ceremonies, hosting events such as the Sentebale Gala Dinner in the presence of Prince Harry of Wales (2013), the Sunday Times Generation Next Awards, the recent E! Entertainment Brand Evolution Celebration Event, the Brutal Fruit campaign with the Kardashian sisters, The Channel O Africa Music Awards, The Glamour Women Of The Year Awards, The GQ Best Dressed Men Of The Year Awards, AFI Africa Fashion Awards, Trey Songz Concert, 50 Cent and G-Unit Concert and was the youngest host of the Metro FM Music Awards, speaking to over four million viewers. In this mail interview with MUTIAT ALLI, Bonang led us into her world, why she kicked off her new series ‘Being Bonang’, her comparison of showbiz business in South African and Nigeria amongst others.
Your new series ‘Being Bonang’ just premiered on VUZU AMP. Can you briefly tell us about the show and why you are opening yourself to the world?
I feel like I am at a great place in my life where I can afford to share parts about my life I would not have otherwise done before with my fans. I think it also comes with being grounded with where I am and being at a point in my life where I want to pay it forward.
What informed a reality show being that you are already in the public space?
Because I am in the public space, media has always taken a stance I told my story through their lens and I have allowed it. But 13 years later, I realize and feel content enough to allow people in my world and share the secrets behind a successful brand in the true Bonang fashion.
Are you not worried that a reality show will mean too much intrusion into your family life?
No, because as an Executive Producer of the show I get to decide what I want to share with the world and what I don’t. This is such a privilege and I do not take it for granted. Thank you to my partners at Vuzu for understanding this and allowing me to have carte blanche on this one.
What impact do you hope to achieve both locally and globally?
As part of the One Global Campaign that is aimed at educating the many thousands of African girls who do not have access to education, I want to be the force that has taken it upon myself to educate at least 100 of those girls because I believe in the power of giving back through education and how it can shape and change one’s outlook. Through the Bonang Matheba Foundation we have initiated a process where we are educating and funding 10 girls this year with full scholarships. In the years to come we hope to extend this to more than just these group of amazing young and talented girls. It is my mission to achieve this and it will be done.
How many seasons do you expect to stretch the show to?
(Laughs)One session is more than enough, thank you very much darling.
We know you to be a popular media personality and for one so young, how long have you been in showbiz?
13 years and going strong!
What has the experience been like and will you do it all over again given the same opportunity?
Yes indeed, I definitely would. What has happened over the past 13 years has been the cornerstone of where and how I built my career and brand. Through my book, From A to B, I have been able to capture all these moments in their realest and purest form. Heartache, heartbreak, good moments, bad moments love and affection. You name it, it is so well documented in my book and it is my pleasure to be able to share my story in the hopes of being able to change even if it’s one person’s life and give them hope.
What inspired you to tow this career path?
It all started with me watching all the awesome talent SABC 1 had to offer with Jam Alley and the channel’s Continuity Presenters who paved the way in my realizing that I could have a talent for this TV thing and I went for it without hesitation. We all are inspired by someone and have had to start somewhere. For me, that’s where it all started. Humble but sweet beginnings I tell you.
As a popular celeb in South Africa, would you say the use of social media played a key role in your rise to fame?
Absolutely! Social media has played a major role in my popularity and impact over the past two years in the different markets I have found momentum in. We cannot ignore the power and influence it holds. It really has crossed boundaries and I am truly grateful and aware of that.
How would you compare the South African and Nigerian entertainment industries?
The truth is, I never try compare the two as they are two completely different markets. However, if you had to ask me to highlight some of the stark differences I would have to say Nigeria is way much bigger in population size. They almost have three times the population size we have is SA. In terms of their entertainment industry, I would have to give it to them in delivering a stunning Red-carpet experience and their ability to elevate the status of their artists. When it comes to my beloved home country, SA I would have to say, our industry is far much kinder to our female counterparts and the industry genuinely celebrates them and allows them to shine. This is more progressive and probably where I feel Nigeria can do a bit more in terms of dialing this up. An example, Tiwa Savage is the only popular female voice in Nigeria that is greatly celebrated whilst the rest of the country honours and recognizes more men. This is an area from observation that can be more elevated.
Have you ever tasted Nigerian Jollof rice?
Of course! I have had everything that you can possibly think of in Nigeria (laughs). I know all about it. I actually have a few favorites – Pepper Soup, Pounded Yam and Beef Suya! You can never go wrong there.
You recently celebrated your 30th birthday with a lavish party and you have achieved so much already. What next big thing should we expect from Bonang?
In my world, there is always a lot happening. Never a dull moment and that’s what gives me the thrill. My supporters should keep a lookout for my new app that promises to shakeup and disrupt the market, my make-up range/collection with Revlon and of course my book tour coming at an Exclusive Books near you!
How do you handle the fame, scandals and cyber-bullying?
You don’t. That’s the beauty about it. You do not have to show up for every war. The truth about negativity is that it is such a small part of the bigger pool. I always apply the 80 – 20 rule that focuses intentionally on the bigger and better. The positive that will ensure you get to where you need to.
When you are not working, how do you unwind?
I travel the world and I shop!
Any message for young women who aspire to be like you?
In whatever you do, whatever choices you make, whatever husband you choose to marry, whatever you choose baby girl, just make sure you are doing it with the right intensions and that with every fiber of your body you are happy.