New SAGT judges in Twala's Shado

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SA’s Got Talent returns to our screens with a new panel of judges joining old favourite, Shado Twala.

DJ Fresh and Lalla Hirayama (pictured) will now flank Twala instead of Ian Von Memerty and Kabelo Mabalane. Hirayama gave us a preview of what to expect.

“So far the experience has been incredible. It is a roller-coaster ride that has demanded us judges be critical and use our knowledge of the industry in different situations,” she said.

Despite being a first-time judge, Hirayama knows what is expected from her as she takes the baton from Mabalane and Randall Abrahams. That said, she remains as human as possible in her cross-examinations.

“It hurts to have to tell somebody that their dreams are not going to be possible. Their parents did not tell them and it’s up to us to be that blunt and it’s quite hard. I know the feeling of being up on a stage and giving it your all in front of a panel of judges and people. I know how nerve-wracking it is,” she explained.

While she hinted at having witnessed some awful talent, she said several locations surprised by unleashing great talent.

“There were amazing people, too, who gave us goosebumps. Then there are the funny ones who came as well and they can be talented or not, but we remember them the most for their hilarious performances,” she said.

While Hirayama is seated next to the two media legends on the show, she says she never felt threatened.

“It’s been such an honour to find myself sitting next to such great people. I think it is a great spread in terms of the diversity in the judging panel. We all come from good experience. Mam’ Shado is someone I have always looked up and she represents a certain group in South Africa. DJ Fresh also represents a certain group, he is kind of a middle-man, and I represent the urban youth. So it’s a great spread,” she explained.

“We respect each other. We all have an eye for different things and it has worked out very well. All I can say is that there is a lot of butt-kissing between Fresh and Mam’ Shado. You will see the amount of times I roll my eyes when Fresh does what he does; he is a cheese factory,” she said.

SA’s Got Talent allows a variety of uniquely talented people to take part. But the professional hip hop dancer said certain talents featured more frequently than others: “We’ve had a ton of singers and dancers. They are not all great and trimming them down… has not been easy, but… I think South Africa will be pleased.”

• SA’s Got Talent airs Sunday on at 6.05pm.

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