While we were staying home and staying safe, our Condé Nast teams have ensured that you stay entertained and connected to your faves. This was also a time of great reflection for our Online Editor, Molife Kumona who connected with over 50 guests on Instagram Live during the lockdown. Here, GLAMOUR's Thobeka Phanyeko chats to Molife about some of his highlights.
So we’re exactly two months into lockdown and you’re on your 61st insta live, do you still remember how you felt before your first live?
Yes, I do. It was with GLAMOUR Editor-in-chief Nontando Mposo. It felt really cool to try out this live thing I had discovered. I always knew one could go live but didn’t know until then on the 26th of March actually that you could go live with someone else.
What sort of thoughts ran through your mind when you saw those four words, “you are now live?
I was not sure if I was really live, it’s weird, I know right? The thing about that first live, was I kind of expected some sort of countdown but it just went live and I thought no one was watching until people started commenting. At that moment, I felt a bit exposed and became self conscious lol.
What does your preparation process entail and how far in advance do you know who you’ll be interviewing next?
I usually know at least three days in advance about the people I will be interviewing for the week. I then get my mind in the headspace of trying to figure out what people would like to know about that person. I look at their social media and gauge where they’re at, and an hour before the actual interview, I do the prep. My process usually starts with looking at the work they’ve done and getting curious about it, I then google them to find out everything I can. With the research out of the way, I then write down my questions on a notepad or a piece of paper, then I am ready to go.
GQ: We all know that anything can happen during a live chat, with that in mind, what were you never ready for?
MK: During one of my interviews someone started coming for me in the comments, like I was basically being trolled. I understand when it’s one comment but this person did like 5 comments, I was shook and funny thing was the one of those without a profile picture. That put me off a bit because I was trying to figure out why I was being trolled. The good thing in that instance though was people were so in love with the personality I was interviewing that those comments just disappeared.
Another moment I wasn’t ready for but absolutely loved was when J Something from Micasa during his interview took his guitar and sang an acoustic version of Micasa’s single Church Bells, that was really cool.
Oh, one more I had forgotten about was when I was interviewing Ghanaian star Stonebwoy and his daughter started crying in the background, we had a lot of people online and he was in the middle of answering a question. I wasn’t sure whether to continue asking the question or he would need to end the interview to go to his daughter so I froze for a second or two and kept talking. He then went to pick up his daughter while on live and introduced her to our viewers, that was cute.
How do you keep calm and carry on when things don’t go according to plan?
To be honest I wing it. If something doesn’t go according to plan, I make it seem like that was the plan or if it’s like a guest being late I apologize to the viewers then chat to them about other things while I wait. The moment you start to panic, you make mistakes or get overwhelmed, that’s why I try to always stay calm.
What do you wish you knew before going live the first few times?
Try to have good lighting and don’t have too much going on where you are, especially if someone is interviewing you.
After a while, does the excitement wear off, or have you kept the same energy throughout?
I remember one time my boss asked me this very same question, and to be honest, the excitement doesn’t wear off. What becomes tiring is the preparation process of research but in terms of doing the actual interviews I am still on the same if not better energy level than when I started. I now know how to work the tech issues and also feel more comfortable ‘in front of the camera’.
Do you sometimes get thrown off by the comments?
They used to until I had my interview with Nigerian media personality and businesswoman Toke Makinwa. During the interview some people, maybe two, started writing hater type of comments about her during the interview, and while I was scrolling on the screen to block those people she said a very important thing; “Don’t focus on the haters. There have been thousands of great comments and we are now looking at the few negative comments, let's leave them.”
Ever since then, I focus on the good comments and let the naysayers keep doing their thing.
What sort of lessons have you learnt from doing these lives?
I’ve taken lessons from each and every live I’ve done, from interviewing international actor, Winston Duke,Instagram sensation, Elsa Majimbo, to model, Sean McCollet and Rugby Player, Seabelo Senatla. Absolutely everyone I have spoken to has taught me the importance of being authentic. Sports broadcaster Motshidisi Mohono spoke about how you need to bring you to the table and that’s your power, that cemented what everyone said; there is power in being authentic in whatever career or work you decide to do. If you are authentic people will see it and gravitate towards that.
Another lesson I loved, which stayed with me, is that “we all have our own thrones so there is no need to remove anyone else off theirs,” this was from rapper and media personality, Boity Thulo. She was expressing how her Own Your Throne slogan came along and when she said that, I instantly resonated with it.
“Parents owe the world a good human being.” This was from my interview with businessman, actor and producer Thapelo Mokoena. He was explaining what being a father has taught him. He has two boys. His honesty, articulation and the way the interview just flew by, was really cool.
“Prepare for what you need to get.” This is a lesson I got from my interview with actor Winston Duke. He spoke about his decision to move from theatre to TV and movies. He was very precise about what he wanted, prepared for it, made the necessary changes, and made it happen!
“Put in the work.” This is a lesson I learnt from all my guests, I’ve always known this but it was a great reminder. One person who strongly believes in this, is media personality and reality show star Lethabo Lejoy Mathatho. In our interview she shared she has worked for free in order to learn and gain industry experience.This shows dedication, and I can relate.
Your most fun interview and why?
MK: It’s a cross between three interviews, one with singer/songwriter and radio personality Unathi Nkayi, producer, Prince Kaybee, and singer, Amanda Black.
Unathi’s interview was the most fun because we know each other personally and she is one of my closest friends. She is also very funny as a person. In the interview we laughed, reminisced and spoke about everything. That made it fun and I was so relaxed. Even though I know Unathi, I still had a pen and paper and prepared for it.
Prince Kaybee’s interview was fun because we just chatted like there was no one watching. It was more of a conversation than an interview. He was engaged and present, which always makes a great chat. We even had a part two of the interview, I feel the conversation would have continued if we didn’t have other engagements.
Amanda Black is so cool. She is fun and engaging and it made this interview so good. There are a couple of times during the interview where we burst into laughter and you need that after a long day.
Relationship Coach Moira Chigariro. We were speaking about maneuvering your romantic relationship during COVID-19, she had a lot of interesting insights. We covered a lot and by the time I was done I felt like I had one for a therapy session.
The one with businesswomen and reality show stars Madame Evodia and her daughter Mercy Mogase was also a very insightful interview, not only from the way they run their business but also from how they have become so close as mother and daughter. A lot of people loved their insights on how to make a mother-child relationship work.
Definitely Elsao Majimbo for two reasons; she is very funny as a person, the comments during that interview were the most hilarious. She and I kept laughing throughout the chat.
We actually haven’t had any controversial interviews.
Ghanaian singer Darko Vibes. He had the worst network issues and people came through but it was so hard to see him and even hear him. I was looking forward to it and the technical glitches made it difficult.
What was your biggest takeaway from all the lives?
We are more alike than different. Everyone’s deepest desire is to live the life of their dreams, whatever that may be. How we often perceive people isn’t how they really are. We are all doing our best.
Can we expect to see more lives in future or are they exclusive to lockdown?
Absolutely. It’s an exciting platform that gets us all to connect, inspire and be inspired.