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A Snapshot of Our Wellness Issue Cover Story Featuring Thando Thabethe

Renowned for her multifaceted talents, Thando Thabethe’s flourishing media career and business ventures set her apart as an undeniable force. She shares insights Into navigating both on and off-screen success, and delves into her exciting venture on Prime Video’s comedy, LOL: Last One Laughing South Africa.

It’s not often that one gets to interview family, it’s for this reason that this cover story hits different. Growing up in the same household in Soweto, I never imagined that this cute little girl with a quiet resolve, would blossom into an unstoppable force. Over the past few weeks as I’ve reflected on her journey to success, there are standout moments however that point to the makings of a star. Attending auditions for one, can get disheartening after a few no’s, but Thando Thabethe stayed the course. There’s a cherished recollection from years ago that surfaced as I prepared for our interview – a tender memory of driving with her late father, my uncle, to an audition in Rosebank when she was just eight or nine years old.

Photographer: Themba Mbuyisa

In real time, Thando Thabethe is in the driver’s seat of her life so it’s no coincidence that she’s currently the drive time host of one of Mzansi’s biggest radio shows, Drive time with Thando. The multi-faceted star has managed to build a formidable brand, and stands as a shining example of what it means to dream fearlessly and passionately in a world where dreams are the currency of possibility. Navigating her work and personal life seamlessly, she emphasises the significance of distinguishing between the two realms. “Being able to differentiate between your work and personal life is crucial. Secondly, I believe it’s about remaining grounded in core values such as honesty, hard work, transparency, and striving to be the best version of yourself wherever you choose to engage.”

So what inspires her to pursue such a diverse range of projects? “I think it all just started that way, it’s serendipitous, if you would. I started acting the same day I started radio, I guess, entrepreneurship is something I grew into, but I did study BCom Accounting. So it sort of makes sense. It’s all come together in the most beautiful way. “I’m an artist through and through, but I’m also a businesswoman through and through.” Noting that the industry is ever evolving and ever changing, “and so are humans. I’ve learnt to just be resilient, to always remember to focus on the goal, and remember what I’m doing it for.”

Photographer: Themba Mbuyisa

On screen, Thando dabbles between comedy and drama, and if you’ve been following her career since she made her on screen debut on the SABC 1 comedy show, My Perfect Family, you’ll agree that her comedic timing is impeccable. About her creative process, she says, “you arrive at a role, and start to embody it. And if it requires you to play like in a comedy series, it’s not as easy as it always looks. Comedic timing is something very tricky and takes time to completely master, but it also brings out a very playful nature in yourself, which I enjoy. Drama, on the other hand, brings out your little demons. We’re all fighting internal battles and being able to have those live in a different form or to be able to sympathise with what a character is going through or might have felt is also a gift because you heal. I believe storytelling heals.”

So which genre does she prefer? “I think both of them bring out a different par of me and evokes emotion in the viewer. And I think the fact that you can put something on television that evokes emotion in itself is a gift.” Expanding on her approach to storytelling, she shares that she’s very fortunate to be able to sit and entertain on multiple platforms. “I think my role is to affirm that all your dreams can become a reality. I started from the ground up, and being able to see the mini empire I’ve built many years later is truly, I hope, inspirational and motivational. I hope I teach people to laugh at themselves and not take life too seriously but also to take command of their own lives and be in control of their own destinies.”

Photographer: Themba Mbuyisa

You may have recently spotted her on Prime Video’s first original, unscripted comedy series LOL: Last One Laughing South Africa. An adaptation of Prime Video’s global smash-hit comedy franchise currently produced in more than 20 countries and territories worldwide, including Emmy-nominated versions in Germany and Australia. Thando shares that she fell in love with the international formats of LOL. “I watched quite a couple of episodes before going in. And I think what drew me is doing something that’s out of the box, something

unconventional, something I haven’t tried before. I always try to challenge myself.” Starring alongside a star- studded cast, including comedians Tumi Morake, Celeste Ntuli, Jason Goliath and Robby Collins, with Trevor Noah as a host, will she be the last one laughing?

Cognizant of the responsibility that comes with being an influential figure in the media space, she asserts that it’s important to make a positive impact in the lives of the people that you’re able to reach, and understanding that you can achieve this through the different platforms you occupy. “I previously had the Thando Thabethe Netball Challenge. I did that for about six years before COVID hit, we intend to bring it back. The proceeds from a very fun event go into supporting women and children living in shelters. I also think it’s important to use my platform on radio to try to make an impact; we did that through something called ‘Back to Reality’ at the beginning of the year where we had a woman’s life completely changed. It’s also thanks to the community of listeners that we have at 947.”

Photographer: Themba Mbuyisa

With all the hats she wears, one might wonder how she manages her time effectively. “I’ve got a great team behind me that helps ensure I’m where I need to be. I’ve also found that writing things down helps. You’re more likely to get things done if you write them down and tick them off. I thrive in being busy, and I love what I do, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.” Regarding her approach to wellness, she reveals, “I’m actually quite outdoorsy. Recently, I completed a cross triathlon, and I have plans to participate in the Two Oceans Marathon. Prior to that, I took part in Ride Joburg. Setting these goals gives me motivation to work hard in the gym. I attend CrossFit at least three times a week. Having a goal is a key aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I genuinely enjoy eating good, healthy food and am a bit pedantic about it.”

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