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A snapshot of our November cover story featuring Thuli Phongolo

DJ and face of Levi’s® Curvy Jeans, Thuli Phongolo is making waves in the entertainment industry, positioning herself as a sought-after brand. She chats about transitioning from acting to music and her ambassadorship with the iconic denim brand on its Curvy range, which celebrates women’s figures.


Born and bred in Soweto, Thuli Phongolo was raised by both sides of her family, her parents equally present despite being seperated. “I think my personality was shaped by those contrasting families. I had a normal upbringing, played, went to school, followed the rules and broke them, learned morals and values, then discovered myself.” Affirming she knew what she wanted to be from a very young age, she reveals she’s always been ambitious, feisty and brave. “I had this unique way of presenting myself, and was always determined to be just that and more. With that said, I am who I am today because of that young girl who grew up knowing there’s more to offer and fearlessly pursued her dreams.”

I’m fascinated to uncover her layers because Thuli is an enigma – and that’s what makes her so alluring. She’s mastered the art of sharing just enough on her social media platforms. The intention of this conversation, therefore, is not to unmask her but for her to feel safe enough to walk us through the different facets of her personality.


She’s recently been unveiled as the new face of the Levi’s® Curvy Jeans range when we catch up with her at the Levi’s® Haus of Strauss in Joburg. Visibly excited about this new venture, she says, “It’s awesome! Levi’s® has been around for years and has always maintained a brand that represents quality and growth within the market, so to be associated with it means I’m doing something right!”

More importantly, it’s about inclusivity, which she says is fulfilling. “It makes me so proud to be the face of a range that considers a broader market that wasn’t necessarily thought of before!” The range has also opened conversations around representation, and more women have been vocal about not being able to find a fit for their shape. And she says it’s important to display an image of diversity to society in all that we do “to inspire and include all sorts of human beings that exist among us irrespective of our different beliefs, values, backgrounds, sexuality and image. This fosters a society that encourages everyone to aspire to achieve more and be comfortable with who they are, knowing that there’s room for them to exist in the possibilities of what the world holds for us, not what we’re limited to.”

The gorgeous DJ is comfortable in her skin. Having witnessed her journey of coming into her own, I’m curious about her relationship with her body, “It’s healthy! I like my body shape, but I also do my best to maintain a healthy body internally and externally. I actually enjoy my body!”


She’s clearly having a good time on set in her Curvy Jeans, designed to sculpt and prevent gaping at the waist. “They make me feel confident, sexy and comfortable! I enjoy how well-tailored they are for a curvy body; the ratios from waist to hips to ankles are accurate enough to fit almost every curvy body structure.”

How does she style them when she’s out in the world finessing? “My style

in general is flexible, so that’s how I also style my jeans, up or down, depending on how I feel or the occasion. But Curvy Jeans with a casual T-shirt and comfortable pair of shoes will always be my go-to. I appreciate comfort more than anything!”


If you’re familiar with Levi’s® story, you’ll know the brand invented the first blue jeans in 1853 and has since evolved. Two words come to mind when I think about denim: resilient and versatile. But how does this relate to her story? “My whole life, I’ve been tested in all that I do. I’ve had times when I’ve passed the test and many others when I’ve failed, but I’ve always dared to put myself through numerous tests again, knowing it’s worth a try because I’ve learned more from my failures than my wins. This has made me resilient.” She adds that you’ll never know how versatile you are by sticking to what you know. “You need to dive into the unknown to discover your full potential.”

The age of influencer marketing has caused a rise in brand ambassadorships. She says organic synergy informs her approach to brand alignment. “It has to align with who I am, what I stand for, and what I want now and in the long run.”

She asserts that she chooses to partner with brands with whom she resonates and shares similar values. “I think those sorts of collaborations bring an effortless, genuine feel to a partnership and how it resonates with its audience.”

The digital era’s allowing for greater reach and relatability is the cornerstone of her brand. “It’s key! In a world where everything seems structured and perfect, people appreciate engaging with someone who portrays the truths of life. As different as we are, we experience similar strains, situations and emotions, so it’s always liberating to know you’re not alone. Your impact on people generates influence, and it’s easier to market to an audience that believes you!”

This quality can also be seen in her portrayal of small-screen roles. Reflecting on her journey in the industry, she says, “I started off in my teens as an actress on Tshisa, scored a presenting gig on Craze (, followed by appearing on Thola and Generations.” Playing Namhla on Generations was her breakthrough role, and it’s so memorable that, even four years after she left the show, people refer to the character. She also managed to capture the attention of audiences across generations with her portrayal of Lilitha on Makoti, which speaks to her impressive range.

“Acting is a job for me and, trust me, there’s nothing glamorous about it behind the scenes. But every job requires discipline, professionalism and a sense of enthusiasm to perform at your best! Whether your experience is good or bad is determined by the vibe on set, your colleagues, and working environment, which differs depending on the set or day. Aside from everything else, honestly, I enjoyed playing both of the mentioned characters and all the other roles I’ve embodied. I’ve learned acting is somewhat spiritual; you’re as real or believable as the amount of commitment you invest in it.”

Read the full cover story in the November issue of Glamour SA, now available in-stores nationwide, or grab your digital copy, here.

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