They’re courageous, they’re clever, they’re stylish and they’re smart. These are the 2014 winners of the Women of the Year awards organised by Glamour magazine in association with Revlon.
The winners were being fêted today at the Village View shopping centre in Bedfordview, with makeovers, lunch at Tashas and a quick shopping spree in preparation for the awards party in the evening.
Glamour editor Pnina Fenster was to lead the celebrations at a rooftop party at the exclusive 54 On Bath Hotel.
Winner bios by Nandi Ndlovu
THE CREATOR: Mamela Nyamza
Dance has taken Mamela from children’s classes in a church hall in the Western Cape’s Gugulethu to the stages of the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands.
A graduate in ballet at Pretoria’s Tshwane University, Mamela first interned at the State Theatre Dance Company. “At that time, black performers were not given good roles, which was depressing,” she says. But she kept on dancing, including up to her final month of pregnancy, when she was 24. Six weeks after the birth of her son, Amkele, she was back.
The corporate gigs and theatre jobs that followed included a lead role in African Footprint and then a year in The Lion King in Holland.
Since then, she’s won 2011’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award and represented SA at LA’s Superstars of Dance competition.
THE STYLE ICONS:Vicky Crease and Maira Koutsoudakis
For the first time, this award is given to two recipients – two of SA’s most eye-catching sisters.
Vicky’s company Vicky Crease Catering and Events brings a deliciously inventive touch to events ranging from the Vodacom Durban July to a charity function for Prince Harry.
Maira’s company, LIFE InteriorsArchitecture Strategic Design tackles luxury hospitality projects across Africa, Europe and the Indian Ocean islands. She’s also CEO of the LIFE Group, which owns LIFE Grand Cafés and LIFE Collection emporiums.
While Vicky sees her personal style as luxurious, edgy, mostly Mediterranean chic, and cites Chanel, Tom Ford and Gold Street Society as her top labels, Maira goes for “a bit rock, a little high-low, a mix of high-value brands and high-street staples.”
THE CHANGE AGENT: Jolynn Minnaar
“I grew up in the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet and for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to understand our world and people,” says film director Jolynn Minnaar. Those interests blended in Unearthed, a documentary that tracks her journey across the US to investigate the effects of fracking, a gas-extracting procedure that’s currently the subject of huge debate in SA.
With sponsorship from Cape Town’s Zootee Studios and an online funding campaign on Indiegogo, Jolynn managed to spend several months in the US.
With the help of Stage 5 Films and Sabido Productions, Unearthed made its premiere at the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival, winning the Green Award. It was also voted Best SA Film at the Encounters Film Festival.
THE MEDIA STAR: Unathi Msengana
After her first gig as a producer for Rhodes Music Radio, Unathi moved on to SABC1’s Castle Loud and then YFM, and she’s co-hosted Metro FM’s afternoon and morning drives for the past eight years.
She’s also a singer, songwriter and two-time South African Music Awards nominee for her albums In Honour (2009) and With Love (2012).
Two years ago, Unathi added TV producer to her CV, after founding Lucky Bean Media with Donald Clarke and Chris Green, two fellow Rhodes alumni. Its projects include MasterChef SA season two. “I just want to become a better storyteller and to provide a platform for sharing stories,” she says.
Also coming up for Unathi: being a judge on Idols season 10 and the release of two new singles followed by an album.
THE NEXT BIG THING: Filipa Carmo da Silva
This 18-year-old drama and musical theatre student won the RyanSeacrest.com “Story of my life” One Direction cover competition.
“Last year I uploaded a video of myself singing Story of my Life for fun,” says the 18-year-old. “The concept was drama and the air-force base setting was inspired by the movie Pearl Harbour.”
The Ryan Seacrest team found the video on YouTube and invited Filipa to enter the competition. Winning it led to great exposure, and her debut single Chills premiered on RyanSeacrest.com.
Filipa, who comes from a Portuguese background, has loved singing since childhood and has entered various talent shows.
Next up from this promising performer? “Some original music, an album and more YouTube videos,” she says.
WOMAN OF COURAGE: Thuli Madonsela
She has pronounced fearlessly on the conduct of the most powerful people in the land, withstood immense pressure that would have broken many, and ensured that the Office of the Public Protector retains the integrity of its symbol – the Makhadzi or aunt who enhances the peoples’ voice while serving as a reminder of accountability to its leaders.
So it’s not surprising that Thulisile Madonsela is not only prized in SA, but also internationally, including having featured in Time magazine’s 2014 list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
THE BUSINESS BRAIN: Lynette Ntuli
After winning a scholarship to study accounting at Joburg’s Wits University, she returned to her hometown of Durban to work for Motseng Property Services.
Then, at 24, Lynette became the first black woman to head a super-regional shopping centre, as the general manager of Durban’s The Pavilion.
In 2008, she co-founded Ignite SA, “a digital network that hosts dialogues about issues like education, entrepreneurship and job creation.”
A year after that, she and her partner Monalisa Sam set up the property, infrastructure and retail development company Innate Investment Solutions.
Lynette is also studying business and entrepreneurship at Northwestern University in Chicago, America, as part of the prestigious Washington Fellowship programme.
THE GIVER: Sandra Millar
Can you imagine missing school or work and being treated like an outcast just because you’re having your period? This shocking situation is a reality for an estimated seven million SA teenagers and young women. When independent fundraiser Sandra Millar learnt about it in February last year, she didn’t just express outrage – she founded the non-profit organisation (NPO) Dignity Dreams.
After 19 years of experience working in welfare, Sandra knew how to take action. She roped in friends, family and former colleagues and, four months later, Dignity Dreams delivered 800 colourful packs of washable pads and panties nationwide, and began a series of educational talks. As a bonus, Dignity Dreams also provides jobs for previously unemployed women and is a green NPO with a low carbon footprint.
THE READER’S CHOICE: Kim Engelbrecht
Kim was working as a gym receptionist after finishing matric when a friend walked past, with a camera crew. “He encouraged me to audition for a new show he was working on and that led to a gig on Craz-e.” A year after that, she began presenting on Take 5 and left Cape Town for Joburg.
In 2002, new opportunity arrived with the role of Lolly on Isidingo. Then came parts in the movies Boy Called Twist, Bunny Chow, The Flyer and Konfetti as well as appearances in the UK TV series Mad Dogs and the new US sensation Dominion.
Next on Kim’s agenda? “I’m on the prowl for a good Afrikaans play, maybe a book adaptation,” she says.