Women trailblazers in the industry, who they are why they are such a tour de force

Thuso Mbedu.

Thuso Mbedu.

Published Aug 7, 2022


The most iconic visual to emerge from 2021 was that of South African DJ and social media sensation Uncle Waffles' alluring dance while DJ’ing at the vibrant Soweto nightspot, Mint The Venue.

Her hair was tightly braided and her jeans were unbuttoned and folded provocatively just below her waist. She exuded uninhibited confidence in front of a raucous crowd that was lapping it all up.

In the year since this moment went viral across the world, the 22 year old has met the moment and been elevated to global superstar status. Along the way, she's also weathered relentless public scrutiny.

The obstacles she’s experienced over the past year seem to be (unfairly) part and parcel of the journey that women experience in their quest for success in the entertainment industry, not just locally but all across the world.

Despite this, we continue to see countless trailblazers emerge on the scene and leaving an indelible mark on it. Here, we look at some of the most important trailblazers making their mark:

Lamiez Holworthy

DJ Lamiez Holworthy. Picture: Facebook

South African DJ and radio presenter Lamiez Holworthy, who recently turned 30, has already reached heights well beyond her years.

Since earning her stripes as a TV presenter in her early twenties, Holworthy has studiously navigated the local entertainment industry and landed roles on prestigious platforms like “Live AMP”, where she hosted the popular SABC 1 show for a few years, and METRO FM, where she currently hosts “The Penthouse Sessions” alongside Lulo Cafe.

Last July, she had the honour of presenting at the 27th South African Music Awards (SAMAs) and is primed to earn a hosting role in the near future.

With a newly launched music career under her husband Khuli' Chana’s label, MyThrone and Universal Music Group, Holworthy is set to reach even greater heights in the near future.

Thuso Mbedu

I think it’s now safe to say that South African actress Thuso Mbedu is one of the top actresses in the world at the moment.

Since landing her first starring role in the Mzansi Magic teen drama series “Is'Thunzi” in 2016 and subsequently earning a nomination for an International Emmy Award in the category Best Performance by an Actress for her role in the show (she was the only African to be nominated that year), Mbedu has established herself as a world-beater.

Her international debut in the 2021 Amazon Video historical limited series “The Underground Railroad” earned her several awards, including a Hollywood Critics Association Award.

Now, Mbedu is set to turn things up a notch as she makes her film debut opposite Viola Davis in the eagerly anticipated historical epic, “The Woman King”.


Makhadzi is one of the most successful musicians in South Africa. She’s won awards and she’s casually bagging gold and platinum plaques every other month like she’s collecting Pokémon cards.

Her uncanny, traditional style of singing and performing has often led to sexist tropes being thrown her way on social media.

But like many of the women on this list, she’s a master at putting down trolls and going about her business.

Her talents are now in demand across the world and she’s showing no signs of slowing down, which is no doubt a scary sight for those bitter trolls.

Uncle Waffles

Uncle Waffles. Picture: Instagram

Like many of the women on this list, Uncle Waffles has had to contend with incessant public scrutiny and unwarranted personal attacks. While haters have labelled her talentless, she continues to tour the world and cash in.

And her fee isn’t light, by the way. According to a leaked rate card, she reportedly charges between R80 000 for an hour's set for indoor bookings and R120 000 for outdoor events.

Additionally, she charges between $18 000 (about R302 947) and $25 000 (about R420 760) for gigs outside of SA. And she’s worth every cent.

No matter what stage she’s on, whether local or abroad, the 22 year old always seems to bring her A-Game. She dances enthusiastically on stage and her trademark gestures are mimicked by audiences across the continent and beyond.

Worryingly for her haters, she seems to be just getting started.

Rosemary Zimu

Rosemary Zimu

Rosemary Zimu has been bubbling under for a number of years now. Now, having landed the lead role of Zinhle Manzini on the Netflix hit series “Savage Beauty”, Zintu has become a national star.

When the series landed in May and quickly shot right up the streamer's global charts, Zimu’s role as a street-smart woman seeking revenge for her tragic past by embedding herself in a powerful family who possess a global beauty empire (and dark secrets) seemed to connect with viewers across the world.

Now that she’s caught our attention, it’ll be interesting to see just how far she takes it.

Kamo Mphela

Kamo Mphela. Picture: Instagram

Kamo Mphela’s journey to the top of the game has been beautiful to watch. She started off her career as a dancer at events around Soweto five years ago before she became an internet sensation when her dance videos began to go viral on social media.

In the following years, Mphela has evolved into an amapiano artist. Since her big breakthrough as a featured artist on the amapiano hit “Amanikiniki” in 2019, she has rapidly established herself as one of the country’s top acts.

She always shows up big. Her show-stopping performance at Cotton Fest earlier in the year is the perfect example of how seriously she takes her craft.

Backed by a crew of over a dozen dancers, Mphela stole the show at the star-studded festival that included most of the hottest acts around.

There’s simply no one quite like her.