Itumeleng Modise: Becoming a muse happened organically and gradually

Itumeleng Modise
Itumeleng Modise is a creative at heart who wants to contribute to the arts Click To Tweet

“Art”, “self-expression”, “spiritual awareness”, and “muse” are some terms which best describe aspiring actress and TV presenter Itumeleng Modise, aka Solar. Originally from the East of Johannesburg and currently based in Pimville, Soweto, Solar is exposed to a peculiar yet balanced mix of subcultures which she uses for inspiration.

She spent most of her working life as an Online English Teacher, a role that heightened her communicative skills and compassion towards those willing to learn. Solar is a creative at heart who wants to contribute to the arts. She is particularly interested in telling stories through the eyes of a young, urban black woman.

Solar believes that having awareness, of yourself and others around you, helps you navigate through life a lot better.  She shares her passion and journey with SLA, inspiring women to persevere and never give up on their dreams.


How would you best describe your passion?

My passion is communicating through speaking, writing, photography and acting. I’m also passionate about telling stories, my own and those of others, and helping people become more aware of themselves.

My stint as an intern copy-writer at an advertising agency also gave me the opportunity to explore my creative writing and thinking in general. Because I believe that I am here to serve others, everything that I do and want to do includes the development of others, especially black women. I would love to work in sectors exposed to platforms that expose me to this. Currently, I am exploring the TV and film industry as an aspiring actress and TV presenter.

I believe that I am here to serve others, especially black women @MsSolar8 Click To Tweet

I like to believe that I am a grounded person who with the aid of yoga and meditation can tackle life with clarity and peace of mind. Also I aspire to learn how to teach yoga and meditation to others. Especially in communities that are not exposed to this.

When did you realize that you are meant to be a muse?

I can’t single out a moment or time I realized that I am meant to be a muse. It’s something that just happened organically and gradually.

I wasn’t even really aware that I was until other people started to point it out to me. It just comes naturally to me.

Itumeleng Modise 3

Itumeleng Modise 2What messages do you always try to portray through your craft?

I always try to portray authenticity. That it’s okay to be yourself and that it’s enough actually.

You don’t have to be like someone else to be liked or appreciated or to be influential.

What is the hardest thing about breaking into the entertainment industry in South Africa?

I would say the hardest thing is gaining recognition whilst totally being yourself. You are constantly told how you should look to be noticed and given a chance.

It can be quite shallow because your looks or physical appearance are judged way before your talent is considered in many instances.

The hardest thing is gaining recognition whilst totally being yourself - Itumeleng Modise Click To Tweet

What has been your most memorable modeling/tv job?

My most memorable TV job was filming my first lead role as an actress for a TV film that featured on Mzansi Magic. It challenged me to bring certain emotions out.

The process really humbled me and challenged me to dig deep to bring those emotions out. I was left amazed at my ability to do so. Acting is not easy, whether or not you have received formal training for it.

Itumeleng Modise: Acting is not easy, whether or not you have received formal training for it Click To Tweet

Itumeleng Modise 1

Itumeleng Modise 4Where do you go to find yourself?

Finding myself is a process I’m still undergoing. So I wouldn’t say I go somewhere to find myself. However meditating helps me a lot with that process.

I meditate to center myself and gain clarity and peace.

If you were to recite a poem to strangers, what would the first three lines of the poem say?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Refilwe Kumalo: The South African content junkie

We have so much to learn from each other but we lack the time to. Click To Tweet

Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce the content of your favorite television programme? Refilwe Kumalo is from South Africa and she is a content junkie who produces television shows that keep you both informed and entertained.

Content is information and experiences which are directed to audiences or users. Refilwe’s purpose is to create content that will be consumed so knowledge can be transferred. She has to spark conversations that can inspire people to be better.

She works hard at producing content that is entertaining and leaves one wanting more. Refilwe wants to be able to create memorable content that will leave a mark in society. 


What are you most passionate about?

People…

I believe that everyone has something to offer the world. Everyone has something good and remarkable to offer. My work has made me realize how important it is to treat every single person delicately.

I studied Anthropology as a major for this very reason, which is to be able to study human norms and values in our society. We have so much to learn from each other but we lack the time to.

People’s perspectives need to be documented so stories could be told and generations to come can learn from them. As vast and different South Africa is as a nation, it has many facets and molds. Every child, household, taxi driver, miner, men-in-service, artist has a story to tell.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Funny enough a lot of people inspire me every day of my life. The ordinary person who wakes up every day to fulfill their dreams inspires me. There are many individuals in our country doing remarkable things in different fields.

I’m inspired by people who work hard and who dream big. For me it’s not about how much money you make but how you change people’s lives through the work you do. It’s about creating jobs which will put food on the table and take children to school.

The ordinary person who wakes up every day to fulfill their dreams inspires me Click To Tweet

A few people who inspire me are Khanyi Dhlomo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Basetsana Kumalo, Dr. Precious Motsepe, Folorunsho Alakija, Isabel Dos Santos, Victoria Beckham, Oprah Winfrey, Mamokgethi Phakeng, Nunu Ntshingila, Thuli Madonsela and Serena Williams.

These women are game changers and I follow their work.

refilwe-with-flavour

What is the most interesting television show you have worked on?

Every show I’ve worked on in my ‘short’ career has been interesting and has taught me what I know today about television. From Diski Divas, which is a reality show about South African soccer wives to Mzansi Insider, which I am currently in production of.

https://youtu.be/hzL-o6feA_U

Right now, I have enough experience to conceptualise an entire episode on my own. It’s a process but one which I’ve grown to appreciate. I’ve been privileged enough to work with great producers who allow my voice to be heard.

It is rewarding to see my work and ideas play out on the screen and also see viewer responses.

What makes a great television show?

These days television content is measured by how much it’s talked about on social media and if it trends. Well unfortunately, Twitter trends won’t get show ratings. What makes a great TV show is the experience and message it leaves the viewer with.

A great show’s content is what keeps audiences tuned in and it will result in high ratings. A lot of elements go into putting together a great TV show and in my opinion, the team behind the show plays an important role.

What makes a great TV show is the experience and message it leaves the viewer with. Click To Tweet

Being in television production I am privileged to see a show from its conception. Therefore, there are many aspects to a great TV show. From the team which is pre- and post-production, the content which is the topics on the show and what message they drive which will of course, give you high ratings.

Where do you see yourself in media ?

Definitely in conceptualizing futuristic content. Content which will engage the youth to think better and be better people.

refilwe-with-dbanj

Where will African media be in the next five years ?

Firstly, we need to treat media as informative tool not just for entertainment. I see media in Africa being driven by young people in the next five years.

The biggest voices we have today are the young people who use smartphones and social media to drive content. It’s amazing to see a lot big stories today being broken with the use of media platforms.

I see media in Africa being driven by young people in the next five years. Click To Tweet

In the same breath, all media platforms have to be monitored by stakeholders so that it can be used in the right manner and be preserved.

What is the last thing I watched on TV and why?

Botched! Hahaha I’m a sucker for reality TV.

As I said, I believe that people need to tell their own stories which will in turn teach people lessons. Botched is an interesting yet daunting show that exposes you to body image alterations which people have done to themselves.

With the rise of body image issues in Africa like skin lighting and back door plastic surgery, it is an informative show. We need to create content which seeks to engage these issues which our society faces and depict the long term results of altering or modifying our bodies in any form.refilwe-3

If you were a mobile app, which app would you be?

I would be Twitter, mainly because it drives a lot of content and allows users to be news makers.

The simplicity of it is what makes it the number one go to for us content researchers. One is able to follow trending topics all over the world by using a hashtag. I use it on a daily basis and also for research purposes.

Many brands are forced to engage with their consumers on Twitter for complaints, competitions and launching new products. PR companies and brand influencers are paid to tweet and get consumers to follow brands. What a time to be alive!


Hey South African #MotherlandMoguls, the SheHive will be in Johannesburg from November 3-6. Find out more here.

Words of wisdom from Africa’s first lady of entertainment Bonang Matheba

bonang matheba

There is nothing better than seeing our fellow African women killin’ it in the game. Bonang Matheba is a South African television host, radio personality, and business woman.

From, hosting  the red carpet for E!,  being the brand ambassador for Revlon South Africa and mentoring South African girls. Bonang can be inspiration for all of us due to her passion for African women and woman empowerment.

Here our some word of wisdom from Bonang  that any #MotherlandMogul can apply to their lives.

Cutting out the negativity

“I’ve had to cut out a few acquaintances after realising that negative energy from people I associated myself with would weigh me down, letting go of such relations helped me focus on my career and self development.”

As DJ Khaled affectionately put it, stay away from they. Negative people can take up your time and time is money.

As the old saying goes you are who you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with Negative Nancies and Debbie Downers soon enough you will find yourself becoming one of them.

If you want to be fulfilled, successful, and career focused, make sure you constantly surround yourself with people who are the same.

Be whatever you want to be

“We live in a world where everyone has the ability to be whatever they wish to be no matter the circumstance or environment one comes from.”

Sometimes we get into the habit of letting opportunities or great ideas we have pass due to our previous experiences or the situations that we are in.

Your dreams are valid.

Your circumstances don’t define your future.

Never let go of an opportunity you believe in. Never doubt yourself or let where you’ve come from define you.

destinyHold on to your confidence

“Always be confident in your skin and your capabilities. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me, “No, you can’t do this. No, you can’t do that,” but I always remained confident in myself.”

Don’t let a few no’s or failures tarnish your confidence.

Bonang didn’t easily reach over a million Twitter followers or become one of the most influential people on the African continent. She isn’t an overnight success story.

Bonang  was turned down in at least 25 auditions before her first big break at YFM radio, she auditioned 9 times to be a presenter on Live Amp.

Some of us would have threw in the towel after the first 3 rejections but Bonang didn’t take no for an answer.

“Rise above, replace hate with love and pray, work hard, dress up and kill it.”

“You need to grow so hard and so thick and so strong to a point where it doesn’t matter what people think, you need to do what makes you happy.”

In others words,

just-bonang-them


Hey South African #MotherlandMoguls, the SheHive will be landing in Johannesburg from November 3-6. Find out more here.

What the misadventures of Koffi Olomide tell us about violence against women

koffi olomide

Koffi Olomide has had quite a week.

To be honest with you, I’d never heard the name before. My taste in music seems to run parallel with his specialties. I got to know him recently though, and for all the wrong reasons. If you aren’t aware already, let me fill you in.

The renown rhumba singer from the Democratic Republic of Congo was kicked off Kenyan soil on July 22 after clearly kicking one of his dancers.  On the same day of his arrival and still at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he assaulted the lady in front of Kenyan airport police and the media. Now, in another place and time, this incident would have blown over pretty quickly after a few comments thrown around here and there and a slot in the day’s prime-time news. He’s a celebrity after all. All publicity is good publicity.

Unfortunately for Olomide, these are different times.As soon as the videos of his assault hit the interwebs, a  barrage of condemnation and censure descended upon him like hell-fire in the form of social media outcries, especially on Twitter. The 60-year-old singer, known for acting on his anger outbursts, was not getting away with it this time. The jig was up.k2

Olomide’s scheduled performance was cancelled after public outcries to boycott it. He was then taken to the police station and deported, along with three of his dancers the very next day.

Catching up on these events, what first came to my mind was, “Shame on you!” I don’t get how a man old enough to be my father was caught kicking a woman. When confronted about the issue Olomide gave some nonsensical excuse about protecting the lady from muggers. Bah! I wasn’t hearing it.

And neither were a lot of people, men and women alike. Even the higher-ups of Kenyan society spoke out. In a statement, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Youth and Gender affairs, Sicily Kariuki, described his conduct as an insult to Kenyans. The Constitution states that violence against women and girls cannot be accepted in any shape, form or manner.

When he landed back in Kinshasa, Olomide was received by a wave of jeers from the gathered crowd. He was booed by fans as he left the airport for his house in Kinshasa. Following this fiasco, Zambia, where the singer had a series of shows, also cancelled his performances. One of the organisers of that show Njoya Tembo, said, “Koffi has proved to be violent when musicians are generally peace ambassadors.”

But it did not end there.

Olomide was then charged with assault in a Kinshasa court and sentenced to three months in jail. This came after a rigorous campaign to have him arrested was started by Congressman Zakarie Bababaswe, who had filed a petition on behalf of the Congolese public to get the musician punished for assault. His arrest – which was ordered by the attorney-general– was received with jubilation by locals and foreigners, who feel justice must be done for all, and especially in enforcing women’s rights.

As I watched all these events unfold in the space of a week, I just knew I was witnessing a revolution. African countries have generally lagged behind in condemning (and enforcing laws against) violence towards women. Yes efforts are being made, but it is taking longer for us to see the effects. However, this outward condemnation of a seasoned musician in the face of his actions is a sign of progress. If even he can be charged in court and receive a sentence to serve jail time, then we are definitely moving in the right direction. To that I say, hongera! (Swahili for ‘congratulations’).

My cheering didn’t last very long. After just one day, Olomide was released from prison on July 28. For some weird reason, another twitter campaign got him out. This campaign was started after an outcry from his team for DRC to rally behind the singer as he had been ‘unfairly prosecuted’. Please tell me, what unfair prosecution are they referring to? He got what he deserved as far as I’m concerned. Kicking a woman is inexcusable, especially with his past record of similar transgressions.giphy

But you know, what? I still see a victory. Africa has learned something. One cannot get away scot-free for such gender-based violence any longer. Olomide’s trials through the past week will serve as a warning to anyone else even thinking that they can get away with such actions. It is a victory for women in Africa. Mess with us and you’ll receive a stern reminder that we are people too and assault is assault. You can go to jail for that, whether you’re famous or not.

Motherland Moguls, what do you think of the singer being released from his sentence? Sound off below in the comments.

Imoteda Aladekemo: I was bothered by the lack of black faces in the food T.V. world

Imoteda Aladekemo Heels in the Kitchne

There is obviously a lack of diversity in the food television industry and Imoteda Aladekemo had to do something about it. She birthed the idea of ”Heels in the Kitchen”,  a Nigeria-based cooking show that teaches viewers how to plan, prepare and plate amazing meals, while looking like they just walked off a magazine cover. Heels in the Kitchen provides interactive content to encourage Nigerians to use local products to create nutritious and stunning meals.

Imoteda, who previously worked as a makeup artist and in the television and film industry, is a Cordon Bleu trained chef. She combines her expertise to provide her audience with an unforgettable viewing experience. I caught up with her via email to discuss her Heels in the Kitchen journey so far.


Tell us a bit about yourself

My personal life is sorta boring. I’m a mother, which seems to surprise a lot of people. I have an 8 year old daughter. I come from a pretty large family – 4 kids and too many extended family members to count.

I’m an introverted-extrovert, if that makes sense. I love socializing but I’m happiest in a cold room with a warm duvet and an amazing book.

Professionally, I’m a certified makeup artist and a Cordon Bleu trained Chef. I have over 5 years experience working in the film and television industry both in Nigeria and in Canada. Right now, I am the head chef and hostess of Heels in the Kitchen.

What inspired you to start Heels in the Kitchen?

I watch the food network a lot and was bothered by the lack of black faces in the food television world. I also thought it sad that as prominent a nation as Nigeria is, there was not reflection of our culture and palettes on television.

Heels in the Kitchen

Why did you decide to name your company Heels in the Kitchen?

The “Heels” bit came from the fact that I didn’t own any flats at the time. I lived in heels, and that included when I was cooking. Even my bathroom slippers were wedges. I thought it would be fun to create a different kind of cooking show with more glam, especially since we, Nigerians, love fashion.

What did you once you decided Heels in the Kitchen was going to become a reality?

The first thing I did was get certified as a chef. I attended Le Cordon Bleu in London to get a background in classical French Cooking. I don’t believe in jumping into things without proper knowledge. I also took some acting and elocution classes to prepare for the camera, and classes in film and television production to ensure that I knew what the technical processes are.

Tell us a bit about the process – from creating recipes and sourcing ingredients to picking the outfits and shooting the show?

Getting the show from concept to TV is a grueling process, especially if you’re a micro-manager, like I am. The recipes are a mix of all the cultures and cuisines I enjoy. I give everything a slight twist to make it more acceptable to the Nigerian palette. Sometimes, it is as simple as adding more pepper. Other times, it’s deconstructing the entire dish and building it up again with Nigerian ingredients.

I have gotten quite familiar with almost all markets in the Ajah-Lekki-Vi axis. When I moved back to Nigeria, I would spend days going from market to market and grocery store to grocery store, searching for where to get the freshest ingredients and the most reliable supply. The aspect of having reliable supply is super important because it’s possible that a store might have lamb chops one week and then not have them for another 8 weeks. On one occasion, I had announced that I would be serving pork chops, only to discover that the pork suppliers hadn’t delivered to store in Lagos for two weeks. Lesson learned! Now, I talk directly to suppliers and give them advance warning.

A major part of the show is the style. I was lucky the first stylist I worked with, ToyoC, understood my vision. ToyoC is great at bringing my look to life. I prefer feminine and classic looks with a bit of an edge. I would have loved the 60s housewife (well style wise at least).

The first step in getting styled is creating mood boards. Sometimes, I just send ToyoC pictures of outfits or pieces that I really like and she does her magic – talks to designers, finds tailors, sometimes takes trips to the market – and then brings me options. Sourcing from designers can be difficult because I’m a bigger girl. But most of the time, they make all the necessary adjustments.

On the more technical side of things, I have a very solid team. The team knows what it is doing. We are creating a show worthy of being on the food network so we do a lot of practice sessions. Also, I work closely with script writers to keep the flow natural. The set is arranged to make you feel you’re hanging out with one of your girlfriends in my house. It’s all very organic.

Heels in the Kitchen

How have you been able to break through the food/cooking show industry?

Heels in the Kitchen is truly the first show of its kind in Nigeria. We are shooting 96 episodes and intend to be a daily presence in people’s homes. That kind of exposure alone is more than enough to shoot us to the top. Add to that, premium quality production and we are confident we will be the best.

What are some challenges you have faced as a chef and cooking show host, and how have you dealt with them?

Like I mentioned earlier, sourcing for products is difficult because of the lack of reliable supply. But, by building relationships with various suppliers and stores, I have managed to avoid running into such issues.

Another issue is finding reliable people with solid skills and technical knowledge. Because we are going for such high quality production, we can’t settle for the run of the mill Nollywood type production that people are used to. Luckily, Nigeria has a lot of talented people, and we found a team who sees the vision and is excited to help create it.

Entrepreneurship is a difficult and often lonely journey. What keeps you going especially on difficult days? Do you have a support system?

My family. My family is the most amazing, supportive and funny group of people you will ever come across. The times I’ve been broke, everyone chipped in. When delivery drivers don’t show up, my sister and my mom will get into their cars and go deliver. When I’m feeling down, they make me laugh and forget the problem. They are my sounding board for new ideas and are unfailingly honest. I could go on and on about how amazing they are. I wouldn’t have made it a quarter of the way here without them.

Something else that helps on tough days is looking back on where I started. I’ll look at events I first did and cringe at how bad my plating was, but, I’m happy because I can see how much I’ve grown. I think about when Heels in the Kitchen  was just a random concept in my head and marvel at the fact that I’m actually creating my own TV show on my own terms.

What excites you about Heels in the Kitchen, right now?

Everything! Honestly, I’m amazed and excited by every single thing. Every new client, every piece of equipment we purchase for the kitchen, every time we pick an outfit to go with an episode – I get so hyper and excited. We’re also getting a fresh inflow of investors and that is very exciting.

Right now, I’m most excited about pitching for SLA. I’m trying not to think too much about it because cause that excitement might turn to nerves. It’s amazing and gratifying to see my work grow to this point.

If you win the SLA competition, what do you plan on doing with your winnings?

Buy a robo coupe food processor, lol! All the money is going to go back into HITK. Startups are money guzzlers. Every time we buy something we need, 4 more things that we MUST have pop up.

Imoteda pitched Heels in the Kitchen at SLA’s Entrepreneur Showcase September 2015. Learn more about developments at Heels in the Kitchen on their website.


Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

6 career lessons you can learn from South African singer Lira

miss lira

Not many singers can say they have sung Nelson Mandela’s favorite song to him on his birthday, have performed with the whole world watching during the World Cup, or sold-out tours in the U.S.A.

But, South African singer-songwriter, Miss Lira, can! With various awards and critically acclaimed albums on her shelf, Lira has plenty career advice we can watch and learn from.

1. Be open to inspiration

Lira talks about personal influences and explains the effect Stevie Wonder has had on her growing up: “Music unifies people and expresses feelings they might not be able to articulate. That made me want to be a songwriter. I thought, if there’s any reason to write music, that’s a good enough reason right there.”

Inspiration for a career or a business can come from reading , observation and listening to others. Being open-minded can really open new doors for you.

2. Choose what makes you feel good

“I used to be an accountant, and chose to become a musician. And that whole transition, going from earning a great income to starting a career as a musician… I was like, am I out of my mind? What was I thinking? But I just wanted to feel good. On a daily basis, I wanted to feel excited about life and my plans.”

If what you do for a living is not fulfilling, if it’s not what makes your heart beat faster, it’s not too late to chase after your career dreams.lira

3. Work with what you have

A great quote from Lira: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are right now.”

You may not have it all at once, but you’ve already got something. Lira lets us know it’s most important to keep going, and not let temporary circumstance weigh us down.

4. Explore your options

Lira’s American fans had been reaching out online, requesting her to come sing in The States. But prior to her huge U.S. tour, Lira took some time to check out the scene, and did a mini-tour of 5 shows in different states.

“We had sold-out concerts. There was quite an interest in what I had to offer.” Trying out venues and styles of delivery for your service or product can help you specify your professional approach and guide your career direction.

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Photo credit: AfroStyle Magazine

5. Allow yourself to break away from pressure

In a 2013 interview, Lira explained that after 9 years of non-stop work, she wanted to take some time out: “I want to be able to just be, and not feel pressure for a while.”

Encourage yourself to work as hard as your time allows you. And when necessary, after long, busy days, a little time to decompress will have you back on your grind extra strong.

6. Find power in humility

Lira tells us she can find beauty in Africa, America, in Europe, in the East, but: “There’s something that Africa can offer to the world, that the world needs today. There’s an element of humility that we have, that I feel the world has forgotten. We still have a sense of community.”

Taking values from your home front into your business can help you keep track of both your personal and professional growth. If what you’ve learned growing up is accurate to how you want to do business now, that’s something you want to keep close.

What other lessons have you learned from this power house’s journey? Share them with us.