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Catching up with Bonang Matheba: From Young, Famous & African, to business, love and more

We catch up with the “all-round badass Tswana girl”.

Television personality and trendsetter, Bonang Matheba finally returned to our television screen this past Friday on the reality show, Young, Famous & African. The Netflix show follows a crew of entertainment personalities as they work, play, flirt and feud in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Bonang’s appearance on the show is just another reminder of why she remains one of the most prominent celebrities in the country. Despite being away from our screens for several years while she pursued an international career, her popularity has not waned.

Bonang is dominating conversations on social media even though she appears in just a few episodes of the reality show.

Teaching us yet again, that star power is not sold at the Sandton City Diamond Walk. In the episodes she appears in, she creates the perfect balance of being relatable but also aspirational.

We get to see Bonang joke, gossip, laugh and break out in anger. She is flawed, she is smart, and she is funny. Her confessionals feel like chats with a bestie.

What makes Bonang so good at what she does is a combination of pure talent, strategic brand management and her insistence to be authentic to herself and her brand.

Building this brand has not been without mistakes, from BNG legal battles to work drama, but it seems like she is finally on the other side of the hardship.

We got to catch up with the media personality and business woman for a little life update, the lessons she has learned along the way of building her brand and what is next for her.

GQ: So what's been happening with Bonang? What have you been doing?

Bonang Matheba: You know me, I don’t do interviews unless I have something to share. And right now, I'm at a wonderful time in my career, a wonderful time in my life where it feels like a new beginning.

Every couple of years, I like to reinvent myself to not reintroduce but, just introduce new fresh challenges, collaborations and productions.

But so much has happened. Finally, I’m at a better place where I am just so grateful and so thankful that part of my life has gone on and building and creating this incredible brand that is Brand Bonang and all the brands under it.

Young, Famous & African is coming out this Friday, which is such a wonderful opportunity. The B’dazzled coming out and the ongoing success, especially something that I do just for my fans. My Steve Madden collaboration comes out in November 2023. Unlike last year, I designed it, every single element.

I am also excited that House of BNG will continue it’s partnership with Miss South Africa, as the official celebration drink for 2023. We will also be doing a lot of work within the LGBTIQA+ community with both the Bonang Matheba Foundation and House of BNG. We will be doing a couple of events during Pride Month as well.

I aim to do a lot for CSI projects with the Bonang Matheba Foundation this year that will benefit my supporters and give back to different communities and initiatives.

House of BNG is also releasing a non-alcoholic nectar range this summer. The people asked for and you know me; I give the people what they want.

GQ: B’Dazzled is back, how is it different from the last time?

Bonang Matheba: The show is still pretty much the same but what I would say is it’s more B’Dazzled.

GQ: Why did you decide to bring the B’Dazzled back?

Bonang Matheba: Everything I do is driven by the people who support me. My fans were asking about the show and that’s how the decision to bring it back began. That was my first reason for bring the show back. The show is a quick, fast connection to my supporters. I love to keep them updated on what I do. They love it so much. And it's a wonderful, uncontrolled way of sharing my update.

They have been excited about the show since I last updated. And they know on B’Dazzled that I'm more unrestricted and freer, and there's a lot more freedom. So that's the reason why we're back. But this time around, it's used to just have such a big impact.

The second reason for the show coming back is me being strategic about my brand direction, that is to go with the eyeballs. The eyeballs are on Netflix, and YouTube. How we use traditional TV has changed.

So I had to mould, change, and evolve as a brand according to how the world and content consumption is going.

Although traditional television and radio is still quite popular in South Africa, the younger and even some older generations viewing habits have changed and evolved.

So, that’s why I go where they are, and give them content. People view according to their time. If you’re a smart marketer or smart brand strategist you go where they are.

GQ: Was this also behind the reason why you joined Netflix’s Young, Famous and African Season 2?

Bonang: A lot of people are asking, why did you get on this Netflix show? Firstly, I never say no to opportunities. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity on an international streaming platform. Another reason was also based on my fans, they had been asking me through social media to be part of the show and when Netflix approached me with the idea to join the show for a couple of episodes, I agreed. I did a couple of episodes, and I had a wonderful time. I have a great personality. I make great television, but also I want my fans to see me in a different light. I love to be challenged, and I love to find new avenues to help me evolve as both a media personality and a businesswoman.

GQ: So I watched a few episodes, you look amazing. How different was it to shoot this show compared to B’Dazzled besides shooting it with different people?

Bonang Matheba: It was different and exciting to work with a group of young successful Africans.

GQ: House of BNG. Tell me, what can we expect? Most of your fans didn’t know whether they should keep on supporting or what. But now everyone knows what’s up. How do you feel about that?

Bonang Matheba: I need to be honest with you, BNG is in its early stages of success and it’s all because of the supporters of Brand Bonang. The brand has made it this far because of the supporters who buy it and engage with both our content on all social media platforms as well as the activations we do. Their support is something I do not take for granted.

My win now in litigation for BNG makes me so happy. I’m happy for young black entrepreneurs; this is a big lesson. It’s a big lesson in management, litigation, growth and how to manoeuvre your ways as your company grows.

When I launched BNG, I didn’t think it would be where it is now.

There are lots of things that took me by surprise; how it was received in the market, how quickly it grew, and how much people love it.

The litigation process for BNG was a wake up call for me as a business woman. Though it was inconvenient, it made me grow. This is a learning curve for me. As a person and someone in business I know that this won’t be my last challenge but with time we learn, we grow and we do better.

I made the mistakes of not reading thoroughly, not being thorough and giving people too much trust. I want to talk about this so young creatives don’t make the same mistakes.

GQ: What advice would you give to someone who is fighting for what’s rightfully theirs, and what does that look like?

Bonang Matheba: Number one, never give up. That has been my stance through out my career. I’ve always learned to overcome. Number two; hire the right person to do the job.

Lastly, surround yourself with strong people. I wouldn’t have made it on this long, tedious journey without my friends, my family and parents. My parents have kept me together. I have had times during this fight with CSA when I would break down, cry and not want to even leave the house. That’s how broken I was.

GQ: During that time, did you find it hard to be out there doing your job? Whether be it presenting an awards show, doing BNG activations or making appearances? How was that for you?

Bonang Matheba: It wasn’t easy. I was performing yes but not at my optimum. I am cancerian so I am guided a lot by how I feel so when I am unhappy I don’t execute things at my best.

I really wanted to get past this experience so that I can get back into the game fully.

GQ: In moments like those, how do you keep going?

Bonang Matheba: I armed myself with good people. I also travel a lot. My career is at a point where I can decide what I commit to and that allows me time to travel when I need to, which I did during that time. I spent days on the phone with my pastor and my church. I used to sit in long prayer sessions, counselling sessions, meditation and God would show up for me.

Believe it or not, I received several DMS and WhatsApp messages from celebrities and my fans supporting me. These people kept me together, so surround yourself with an army of people and let yourself go through the experience. Just know it won't last forever. Don't give up or give in when you know the fight is worthwhile.

GQ: We know you love love, what does love look like for you now?

Bonang Matheba: First before romantic love, love looks like closer relationships with the people who I work with, the team who help build Brand Bonang. I am much closer to my teams, my family and my close friends. Relationships have become more meaningful to me and sacred.

So to fully answer you ; love looks like, kindness, and patience, and it feels like home. It's warm, patient, supportive, reassuring, and comforting, in all areas of my life.

GQ: B, it was so great catching. Thank you for making time for us.

Bonang Matheba: Anytime Mo.

Bonang’s B’Dazzled new episode just dropped, watch it below.

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