BET Africa presenter and radio star, Nomalanga Shozi is one of South Africa’s most exciting entertainers. The multi-skilled performer has become a household name over the past five years with starring roles on Rhythm City and more recently MTV Shuga: Alone Together playing a key role in raising her profile. In between all that, she was unveiled as the face of a new-look BET Africa brand and the move has seen her star, as well as the channel’s ratings, rise to great heights.
But what makes Nomalanga such a remarkable entertainer isn’t just her talent (which she has plenty of, whether in front of the camera or behind the microphone). It’s her ability to almost literally brighten every environment she is placed in.
In isiZulu, the name Nomalanga means “Sunny” – and there could not be a more accurate description of her disposition as a human being. Whether acting, presenting or collaborating in any way, Nomalanga has the unbelievable gift of being able to lift spirits and add positive energy to a space.
So when ViacomCBS Networks Africa needed to assemble a Culture Squad – a group of inspiring, gifted and motivated young performers upon whom the hopes of the youth rest – it was no surprise that they turned to one of their own bright talents to make up a crucial portion of the squad.
Nomalanga, along with her fellow squad mates Uncle Vinny, Shamiso and Tshego Koke, sat down for an insightful and engaging interview about the state of affairs in 2021. As we look to end Youth Month on an empowered note, we picked Nomalanga’s brain on what solutions and opportunities exist for the youth of today.
You’d better grab your shades for this one.
Nomalanga – The future is brighter than ever
How would you describe the youth of SA in 2021?
Curious, bold, creative, aware and innovative.
What are the youth doing well, what could we be doing better?
We could be more assertive about the lack of accountability on the side of government with regards to service delivery and the lack of access to resources our youth need in order to push us forward so we can compete on the same level as youths of other nations
What does it mean to you to be part of the Viacom CBS Culture Squad, knowing thousands of young South Africans get to look up to you?
It’s empowering, humbling and exciting. We get to spearhead the new chapter of youth in entertainment in South Africa. The previous generation were groundbreakers; we are the innovators, using different types of media to grow ourselves and reach new frontiers. We are the lovechild between the past and present, and we represent the future.
Do you believe that young people are given enough opportunities to display leadership in SA?
No. We live in a very ageist society where young people are not believed to be capable of leadership. Our entire government is made up of people close to 40 years older than our population’s average age. That’s scary, to say the least. Young people possess a new kind of vision that could change our society for the better if just given the opportunity.
You are one of the most multi-skilled entertainers in the country. What message do you have to young girls who want to explore multiple interests but are told to “focus on one thing”?
Do your thing. There isn’t a single person on this planet who is only interested in one thing. Take our ex-presidents for example: Thabo Mbeki loved politics and poetry. Nelson Mandela loved politics, law and boxing. Now, look at the arts. Such an infinite pool of creativity, who’s to say that an actor shouldn’t be given the opportunity to express their creativity in the radio space, or TV presenting? This kind of mentality is crippling and backwards. Lol.
Are there enough opportunities for young people in South African broadcasting?
No. This is why #OpenUpTheIndustry is a real thing to this day.
How do we open doors for others (e.g. #OpenUpTheIndustry) while still giving the spotlight to those who deserve it?
By taking risks. Breathing new life into to industry does not mean taking it away from those currently in the industry. It requires new concepts to be brought to life. New shows, more productions, our industry needs to GROW!
Actor, radio star, television queen, voice of the youth – you do it all! What is one hidden talent you’re still waiting to reveal to the world?
I’m currently harnessing my knack for business. Making money is a talent, and I want to be really good, in fact, BRILLIANT at it by diversifying my portfolio and flipping my social currency into actual currency. I’m on a mission and nothing is going to stop me.
You starred in a Covid-19 themed season of MTV Shuga last year. Do you believe young people have played a key role in fighting the pandemic?
Yes. We played our part by staying at home and finding new ways to keep ourselves occupied and entertained. The rise of TikTok, digital content and things like the #DontRushChallenge, and Jerusalema challenge are examples of that. We also saw young people all over the world lend their voices and use their platforms to inform, educate and support those in need (through Covid relief projects) or under duress (black lives matter movement ) .