#aTypicalInterview: Felicia Mabuza-Suttle on why she never leaves her house without make-up
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Johannesburg - This week we feature South African talk show hostess, author and entrepreneur Felicia Mabuza-Suttle.
Felicia has interviewed luminaries like Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Britain’s former first lady, Cherie Blair, and personalities like Larry King, Danny Glover, Diana Ross, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, John Maxwell, Iylana Vanzant, and many others.
She is also the author of bestseller and publisher’s choice, Dare to Dream and also author of the inspirational book, Live Your Dream.
Now living in the US, she is the host of Conversations with Felicia, a talk show on The Africa Channel in the US.
If you were able to invite any three guests in the world to your talk show, which three people would you choose?
I had the privilege of interviewing some of the most enviable guests, including presidents Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere, activist Winnie Mandela and The Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
My dream was to interview Muhammad Ali. I tried during his visit to South Africa, but it did not work out.
The other two people I would love to have a sit-down with are former president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.
The meal that most reminds you of your childhood?
For breakfast it was a hot bowl of Maltabella porridge. For lunch, a slice of steak and kidney pie.
What is the one thing most people do not know about you?
My motto is: Dress the way you want to be addressed. Image experts say: "People form an opinion about you in four seconds of meeting you."
I never leave my room in the morning without fixing my face for myself. I want to see what I want others to see.
I also never go on video calls without make-up. I want people to see what I want to see of me. I never leave the house not looking presentable. You never know who you will meet or what opportunity you could land.
Who has better food, America or South Africa?
No contest there – even Americans who have been to South Africa rave about the food and the ubuntu our people exhibit.
What is the one thing that has caught your attention on social media in the last week?
I asked my family and friends to not mention my birthday on social media. But before I could think of it, I got a message from someone in South African saying, “702 Radio has just wished you Happy Birthday.” Then Bop Radio, where I worked in the early 80s. Then my daughters Lindiwe and Zanele. I could not keep up thanking as many of my fans and friends. Thanks for the wonderful tributes, flowers and messages from Mzansi. The most heartwarming tribute came from brand guru Thebe Ikalafeng, who captured my journey during the 90s to date. This resulted in a large outpouring of love and nostalgia on Instagram.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
I am still rocking. I can play me. I have been approached to be in other movies, so why not one about myself. Let’s give them the real deal. I am too complicated to be duplicated.
Your go-to comfort food?
A wholesome dish of lamb curry, rice, veggies. Don’t forget the achar. Now I am getting homesick.
You are stuck in an elevator with Donald Trump. What is the first thing you would ask him?
Ironically, I lived in Trump World International in the mid 2000s when I worked in New York. I met him occasionally and we talked about South Africa and even about South Africa’s version of The Apprentice, that Tokyo Sexwale hosted. He was a much different man then. If I had to talk to him now I would tell him I came here in search of the American dream and how I am now experiencing an American nightmare - a truly divided country and racism that reminds me of apartheid South Africa, pre-democracy.
I would tell him that I love children, as you observed when I met you and your brother when you were little. The cruelty he and his administration exhibited toward kids in cages remain indelibly in my mind to date. I still hear those cries. I have a grandkid and those images still haunt me. I would remind him that he has grandchildren and he would not want that to happen to them. Karma has a way of working its way around. I would tell him that this is not the America the world envied. How so many friends, black and white from South Africa to Europe to Asia, swear they have no interest to ever visit America again. The images of police brutality and racial tensions are seen all over the world.
You have rubbed shoulders with many famous people – who left the biggest impression on you and why?
So many have left lasting impressions on me in different ways: Nelson Mandela’s spirit of ubuntu; Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s humility and grace; Winnie Mandela’s courage; the motherliness Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther Jr; feisty spirit of Bettye Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X; Pope John Paul’s reverence; Queen Elizabeth – I felt so regal after meeting her.
I was inspired to pursue broadcast journalism after watching the shows of Phil Donahue, Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey.
You are able to shop at one store for the rest of your life. What store do you choose to shop at?
If I am in South Africa, it definitely would be Woolies – the fresh vegetables, meats, biltong, dried fruit you name it. Nothing matches Woolies in the US.