Watch this interview on The Voice of Africa TV
TVOA: Hello it’s your host, Kemuel Van Der Puije and Welcome to TVOA TV & Podcast, today We have a very special guest with us, Miss Lerato Kganyago, a South African TV Presenter/Radio Host/DJ and Founder of FlutterLKG. Miss Lerato, can you please tell us a little bit about your childhood growing up?
Ms. Lerato: I was born and bred in South Africa, but specifically Soweto in the 80s during the apartheid. I’m sure you guys know a lot about apartheid. I got to experience what apartheid is. I got to experience oppression obviously not as much as my parents or my grandparents did.
But I got to see when the riots were happening in Soweto. I experienced a lot of white privilege. I must say, it was really a great and colorful childhood that I will forever be grateful for because it’s just backed with a lot of history, great history that has sad stories. Generally, I feel we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t gone through what we did.
TVOA: Are there any role models or mentors that you had growing up?
Ms.Lerato: One who comes to mind readily is a mogul. She’s a businesswoman. She’s very well known in South Africa as Miss Basestana Khumalo. She’s an entrepreneur and absolutely amazing. She was Miss South Africa once. But there plenty of women, some have passed on played a huge role in who we and I say we because I speak on behalf of most South African black women, especially those who were raised in the Township’s that you could call the hood, I stand to be corrected. I always say that I’m inspired by not necessarily famous women, but it’s just a normal woman who wakes up in the morning and just really makes a difference; one who makes an effort to put food on the table. It could be a woman who’s a street vendor who sells vegetables. She’s on the side of the road. It takes a lot of Courage. It takes a lot of strength to get up in the morning to do that. I am truly inspired by a lot of women who are making a difference in our country.
TVOA: Awesome, so throughout your professional career and educational career. Did you find that you had to prove yourself or to fight people’s assumptions or expectations of you?
Lerato: So this is what happened, like I said to you, I was born in the township. What you guys call a hood and so we never really got to experience the white side of things and what they call a model C. But education was completely different since I went to a township school until I later went to a model C school, which is called a white school, you know, this is obviously after ‘94, ‘95. Democracy was happening and we were taken to the schools in the suburbs to get better education.
It was a bit of a switch though, especially with me growing up in a township, meeting other black children who were privileged enough and me coming from a not so privileged background and having to adapt and to speak English fluently like the others. It was just a switch. It was a culture switch for me compared to where I come from. But yeah, I think I’m grateful for that because I still go back to who I was or who I am. I still go back to how I was raised because that plays a huge role in my life even today.
TVOA: So speaking about your education, can you speak about your days at University and why you felt that following the path that you did was the right choice for you? Do you still feel that it was the right choice as of now?
LERATO: I have a very interesting background when it comes to my education. I left High School. I think what you guys call College. I didn’t go to university but I went to technicon. At the time, I was very interested in the aviation industry. I studied travel and tourism, joined the aviation industry as a flight attendant and a cabin crew.
Which I came to dislike a couple of years later and that’s when I realized my love for entertaining and being in the entertainment industry. I went to a couple of auditions until I got a breakthrough. I actually started working for a channel called Soweto TV. It’s a community TV channel in Soweto. That’s where I got to master and learn more about the industry. What I wanted to do and we learned was being a producer. I’ve been a director, a camera lady, and a presenter. And I think that despite not going to University, I got to learn about what I do today, which is really important.
TVOA: So relating to what you said earlier about encouraging or finding women who encourage you, how do you go about encouraging women in the industry and look to develop and find female talents to take on Creative roles originally monopolized by men.
Lerato: Oh, I do that every day through social media, the talks that I do throughout the country. Obviously, I’m in a male-dominated industry being a TV presenter, same for being a radio/club DJ which is also very much male-dominated on the African continent and also in South Africa. And obviously you have to work almost a hundred times more to prove yourself. You’re constantly having to prove yourself because you’re a female and these are the conversations that I have with young women. I go like, ‘If you really want it, you will get into it even though it is male dominated. Yes, you have to prove yourself but at the end of the day we are all on the same, I don’t know if I can say, level with a male female whatever it is. We’re all passionate about the same thing. We all put in as much work ethic as we can as we should be actually so this is what I speak to them about that and times have changed when you think about back in the days many years ago. So my last month actually was celebrating women’s month and we are celebrating all the women. Walk to the union buildings during apartheid for us to have all the opportunities that we have today and it would be sad to see some of us not being able to use these opportunities because we are so worried about the other gender or it being a male-dominated industry Etc. They fought for us to have the Privileges that the men also have. So these are the conversations that I have daily with them. I recruit females in my company to teach them and hopefully inspire them at the same time that there’s more there’s so much more that’s waiting for us out there.
TVOA:Awesome. Can you describe your experience as a TV host?
LERATO: My experience as a TV host has been amazing. Being a presenter for so many years I think is almost like Ages award-winning presenter. That is I walked away with us after so that we can Television Awards Sofia so that he can film & Television Awards, which is a very very big award ceremony in South Africa and I walked away as
best presenter and which for me was almost like a win for all those that have been trying to make it in the industry because it took me a very long time to get to a bigger platform to be able to host shows like Project Runway South Africa. I mean, it came into the country and I was the host the first time he came and I was chosen as the host. I did remarkably. Well, you know, there’s ups and downs to it so you can go on for a year without having a gig television gig and then you’re back again. I think the most What’s in thing is that you need to remain consistent. Do you learn every day? I hear people saying that they know that they’re great presenters that they are good and I always say there’s always room to learn something new people might disagree with me, but I will never have I will never find myself sitting and saying that I’m great in something because there’s always room for improvement with every single thing that we do with every industry.
TVOA: So does that experience differ from people in your position like fame and fortune?
LERATO:Yeah, I mean naturally. For some people, it’s natural but I think it depends on you as a person and your maturity level. There are people who will become arrogant who will become cocky and say I’m the greatest. I know I’m the greatest. Nobody can touch me, but hey used to the you know,I Choose to be the opposite. I choose to learn from others. I choose to learn from my peers. I choose to every day or every time like this past weekend. I was shooting an award ceremony that’s going to be on air in the next two weeks, which is a very very big one for some African entertainment industry folks. I can’t wait to see it because when I watch I critique myself and that’s how you learn and that’s how you better yourself for next time.
TVOA: Can you describe Your favorite memory of being part of the live amp whether it was on or off camera?
Oh my favorite memory of life. It was a live show and I enjoy live shows because the adrenaline with the live show, you can’t mess up at all. I think I enjoy that because your mind psychologically already knows that you cannot mess up and if you mess up you have to keep it going whereby with a pre-recorded show you can only take two, you know, I can’t think of anyone in particular. I really had great moments on live AMP. Especially it being a music show and I just think two years after starting DJing. They actually work together and it was like organic so being on a music show then a DJ and a person that loves music and coming to be on radio DJ. Everything just worked well together. I can’t pinpoint a specific episode. So it was a great learning curve for me and I’ll forever be grateful for Live AMP. It’s one of the biggest music shows on the African continent.
TVOA: Has it been difficult to maintain your success?
Lerato: Of course it has. We go through challenges. I mean we are in the public eye; there are certain things that you go through publicly. Sometimes that can affect your work.
I believe even now that I’m still taking off. I took off very steadily and very comfortably and I think the reason why I’m still in the industry right now so that we can grow so much more. I believe that as a person, I have longevity. And because I’m very specific also with what I get myself involved. So if there’s a show that’s out there and they’re looking for a presenter. I won’t just jump on it for the sake of it. If there’s a brand that’s looking for an ambassador, I do my research. So a lot of times we see personalities just grabbing whatever that they can because in their heads, they are thinking, ‘what if this opportunity never comes.’ But I’m one of those people who believe in the man upstairs and believe that the man upstairs has given me this journey, this Incredible Journey that’s very steady, taking my time and growing each and every day and that’s longevity. I’ve been in the game for a long time but it’s almost like every year I’m rebranding without even making an effort because there’s always an opportunity that comes through whether it’s one or two and I think that’s what I know. That’s what’s needed in this industry. When you look at the likes of Beyonce, J-Lo, they’re already in their 40s, 50s but they are still very much relevant. This is because they get to evolve with the industry and you know what works for you and what doesn’t; you know when to sit back and let others shine and then come back and have your moment without being greedy because one can become very greedy in this industry.
TVOA: Well, I’m glad you said that because it seems this time especially with the youth, we are sort of rushing for fame and for Glam. We’re not preparing for the long run, you know.
LERATO: Our generation now, they don’t want to put in the hard work. Not all though but majority when I have conversations with the young ones, it’s always, “So Lerato, I want to be famous. I want to be like you. I want to be on TV tomorrow.” They don’t know your journey. They don’t know where you started off? Before I got my first big platform I had gone to more than hundred auditions where I got rejected before I got my first big gig and then if even after that I have had to go to auditions. Even today, if I get a call as much as I’m seen as a legend in the industry or award-winning presenter, I get that respect, but if I get a call today and they ask me to audition for something I will audition for the people who believe, you know, I’ve been here for a very long time. I shouldn’t be auditioning, you know my work, but I’m the complete opposite.
TVOA :Okay, so speaking about acting, how does an actress like yourself work both in front and behind the camera? How are thes e two occupations similar or different?
LERATO:So I did acting I think four years ago and it was the biggest Soapie in the country. Probably the second, second or third biggest Soapie in the country and I took it as a chance because I’ve always wanted to try acting. I’ve always wondered how would I do in this first? I have the utmost respect for actors, the amount of work they put in being on stage for hours and hours just to say one line, that’s crazy. I acted for a year on a soapie called Mobile here in South Africa. I got to learn so much about acting I had to tap into a character that was not me and become that character and every time I watch something whether it’s a movie or so, I always remember what most of these actors go through, they have to go deep inside and get those characters that you might not necessarily sometimes even relate to and become it and make it alive. So I haven’t done acting in like five years and I was saying that I’d never do it again because it’s exhausting but now I think Hmm, I would try something but not in a soapie may be necessary. But nothing that requires a lot of work or being on stage for hours from like 6 o’clock in the morning until 6 o’clock in the evening just to say three lines, you know.
TVOA:if it was a specific genre that you would choose to do. Which one do you think you’d do?
LERATO: Action and I definitely would want to play the villain if I could. I wouldn’t mind one day cutting my hair doing something and just playing a role of a man to see if I’ll be able to pull it off, just something that is completely different to who I am because I mean if I get a character that’s similar to me that’s a bit too easy because then you’re playing yourself, right, you know something to do with maybe like sounds, hate, take like action movies. We have to kill people, become a serial killer, something and you say not so that’s completely different to who I am.
TVOA: How do you wish to see the future of Africa?
LERATO: Oh, man. First of all, I wish Africa could unite. We are united but not enough. There’s so much that Africa has to give. We have so many resources: we’ve got minerals. The continent is rich on its own. I was reading an article the other day and they said that the African continent actually has the youngest people in the world and if I’m making sense, but it was something like that. We have the youngest people than the old which means we probably have the most leaders in the world. Do you know Future Leaders? That’s you. I wish our leaders could do a bit more when it comes to poverty and education. I wish that our leaders could unite. I wish that Africans could unite and not be separated and remember that we are one, that there isn’t a Nigerian, South African, etc. Aren’t we all Africans?
The world looks up to us because we are so rich and I think sometimes we intend to miss this. We have such rich cultures. We are such rich people spiritually we are so rich. We are such intelligent people, I mean a lot of things were you thinking about a lot of things that have been created in the world, the majority of them actually began in Africa. It’s just that, sometimes they don’t tell us so all we have to do is read about it. Do you know a lot of things were invented in Africa? A lot of things were invented by Africans, but that’s another conversation. I just wish Africans could just believe in themselves more. I want Africans to unite to become one because we are one at the end of the day. If you look at the economy, if you look at politics throughout the world everyone does their own thing and literally Africa is on their own. We are on our own. So I just want us Africans to unite. I’d love to see us unite and we will get so much from it. We’ve gone through so much as Africans in the past. We’ve been hurt a lot. We’ve been deprived of, been oppressed when you speak about slavery when you speak about so many. Our minerals, richness were taken away from us, we just need to get that power. We need to gain that power back and get that power back by us uniting.
TVOA: Exactly because it seems that Africans or Africa as a whole we have the resources. We have people, we just don’t have the mentality. I think that’s something that we have to focus on because even though we have the family etiquette, we just don’t have the mindset to continue striving. We have nice weather And yes the beaches and we get a little lazy.
LERATO: We have everything. We have safaris we have like you said, we have all the resources. As we just need to learn how to use them as Africans without giving them away to the Europeans or to Americans or whoever else, you know, by not using our own resources and using our skills that we have without necessarily taking our skills to foreign countries. Let’s use them here at home.
TVOA: How can African actresses or African TV personalities command more respect dollar-wise?
LERATO: Oooh let me tell you something about South Africans. I feel we, especially as against the whole we are growing and the entertainment industry is growing. The rest of the world is starting to recognize us when you look at Nigeria, when you look at the bunch you look at what’s I keep forgetting their names? But all the big ones that have worked with like Beyonce. The rest of the world is recognizing us here at home.