And now she’s helping to find the continent’s future top fashion designer, as host and executive producer of BET’s Made In Africa. This is a major moment for her because now that she is a mother, she is all about leaving a legacy.
You are not just the host but you’re the executive producer of Made In Africa, which is a big deal and is very rare in South Africa for a presenter to also produce a show. Did you come into the project as an executive producer, too, or was it something that was discussed?
What sealed the deal for me was being made executive producer.That was the deal breaker. I have learnt that it’s important for us to know our worth. I was ready for a new chapter in the entertainment industry and that chapter was ownership. I want to work more behind the scenes and be deeply involved in the production side of things. So when my team and I proposed to BET that I wanted to be involved in the show and not just host, and they agreed, it felt like we had broken barriers because it is rare for a presenter to also produce the same show.
How much of a role do you then play in making decisions on the show?
As executive producer, I get to have a say on things like the location of the show, the PR and marketing and also the outlook. I’ve always believed we needed a Pan African programme, one that had depth, substance and a global perspective. Made In Africa is that show. I love that we are shooting in KwaZulu-Natal and not just because it’s home, but because there are amazing locations that need to be seen. I also love that I understand how the contestants feel. I can relate because I’ve been in a talent competition before. Oh, and I insisted we use new young people in the production.
Do you approach the show differently because you’re also an executive producer?
Oh for sure. It’s a more motherly role I guess. It’s like my second baby and I love it. I’m more invested in the project.
What was the criterion for the contestants for Made In Africa?
I wasn’t involved in that part of the show. We got fashion experts to come in and pick those who were deserving of being on the show. But what was important for me was that they had experience, were really passionate about the industry and had gone to fashion school. It was also important that we got people who understood the business of fashion because the winner’s collection will be sold at The Space after the show ends.
Does the competition aspect of the show make it difficult for the designers to come up with concepts that work for the show?
I imagine so. Being a creative, we don’t like being pressured. We love to work leisurely until something is perfect. But then, this is fashion. The pressure is there. Designers are always releasing new ranges for the different seasons, plus the resort and pre-fall collections. Fashion is a pressure-driven industry. You need to be able to handle the pressure while producing brilliant designs.
So what makes Made In Africa different from Raw Silk, Project Runway and David Tlale’s The Intern?
One of the things that drew me to the show was that it was a continental show. All the other shows you mentioned were strictly for South Africans, while Made In Africa looked for designers all over the continent. That’s the difference. Another thing is that this show will be seen in other territories around the world, which is great because the world needs to see how great African fashion is.
Made in Africa airs on BET (DStv channel 129) Wednesdays at 9pm and repeats on Mondays at 4pm.