Homegrown celebrity reality shows have become a firm favourite with South African viewers.
We’ve witnessed this growing trend with shows like “Lasizwe: Fake it till you make it”, “Being Bonang”, “Living the Dream with Somizi”, “Boity: Own Your Throne” and the Safta award-winning “Life with Kelly Khumalo”.
As such, it is little surprise that low-key personality DJ Zinhle (real name Ntombezinhle Jiyane) has given the nod to having cameras follow her around for her reality show on BET Africa.
It was a month ago when the big reveal ‒ of the TV show and her second pregnancy ‒ was made.
Her daughter, Kairo Forbes, is from her previous relationship with rapper AKA (real name Kiernan Jarred Forbes).
In keeping with the unpredictable trope of her show, “DJ Zinhle ‒ The Unexpected”, she welcomed her second daughter several days shy of her show debuting on the channel.
I interviewed DJ Zinhle shortly after the announcement of her reality show and, in my chat with her, two things were apparent: she was no longer taking a back seat in the narratives written about her and that, despite her relationships overshadowing her successes, for her, it didn’t take away from them.
And now, she is reclaiming her story by unpacking who she is as a woman, a sibling, a mother, a girlfriend and a successful DJ and entrepreneur.
The series opened with her getting out of bed, rubbing her “baby-loading” bump.
In the intro, she says, “I’ve been making music and building my brand over the past 16 years.”
Aside from being one of the country’s foremost female DJs, she’s also an entrepreneur and style icon.
DJ Zinhle, who has been in Jozi since 2002, is candid about her life.
The opening frames of the show are of DJ Zinhle, sans any make-up, interacting with her daughter. She also admitted to being reluctant to show Kairo on the show as she hadn’t discussed it with Kiernan.
She said: “With a platform of a show where you are telling a lot about your life, I didn’t want to offend Kiernan, offend his views on how Kairo should be exposed, so I didn’t want to show Kairo on the show because I hadn’t really had a proper discussion with Kiernan on whether we are going to use the child on our own platforms.
“I’m just not sure about having that conversation with Kiernan because it could go either way. He could say, ‘For sure’, or he could go, ‘You crazy!’”
Viewers are also introduced to her pet dog Kleo, house manager Zama, elder sister Gugulethu Jiyane Mtshali, friend, manager and business partner Thabu, friend Nomuzi, BFF Pearl Thusi as well as her very camera-shy baby daddy Bongani “Murdah Bongz” Mohosana.
Her beautiful home, with its modern and exquisite furnishings, is also showcased in the series.
And her elder brother Zakhele Jiyane is introduced at the short film video launch of her inspirational track “Indlovu” featuring former “Idols SA” contestant Loyiso, with the music industry’s heavyweights in attendance.
Through the conversations, viewers are able to get a better sense of DJ Zinhle.
She is playful and doting with her loved ones but, when it comes down to business, she’s focussed, driven and a perfectionist.
The show’s creators also address the elephant in the room over how DJ Zinhle, by association, found herself part of the Twitterverse conversation following the tragic passing of AKA’s fiancée, Nelli Tembe.
“The thing about my life is that a lot of things happen on social media have nothing to do with me most of the time that just end up reflecting me in some way. I learnt not to care about it. But this is also an emotional time in my life where I’m pregnant and highly emotional,” she said.
DJ Zinhle continued: “Obviously, it’s not about me. I’m not involved with what’s happening right now, I mean it’s hectic, so hectic.
“Outside of just dealing with this hectic situation that I don’t know how to react to because I’m really not involved at all; but now, I’m being dragged into it in the worst way possible.
“This is something happening in Kiernan’s life but because Kiernan and I have a child together, it ends up affecting me and now people are making it all about me.
“In my view right now, this is why I don’t want to take it personal; there are people going through worse with the situation, the worst. I can’t make it about me and I’m not making it about me.
“Also, it’s a bit tough, the comments are so cruel. Just the sensitivity around someone else losing their child and someone using it to hurt me or affect Kiernan … it’s really a sad time for our family because Kiernan is going through something so traumatic.”
Although she didn’t allow herself to be baited into a response, it got her concerned about how everyone will react to news of her pregnancy, which she did her best to conceal.
If the teasers are anything to go by, the lobola negotiations are going to be a talking point in upcoming episodes.
This reality show is an honest, intimate portrayal of a woman who wants to be measured by her own success and not by the men she has dated. While there is some drama as is par for the course in life, it is not about histrionics at all.
At the heart of the show is one misunderstood woman celebrating love, life and her legacy, her way!
“DJ Zinhle ‒ The Unexpected” airs on BET Africa (DStv channel 129) on Saturdays at 7.30pm.