New beginnings for brand Bonang

2012-11-06 10:58

She’s always loved the limelight, and insiders say Bonang ‘B*’ Matheba has been the centre of attention since childhood. Bonga Percy Vilakazi catches up with her just as her new show, The Link, premiers on TV.

Since she was a little girl, this livewire Cancerian has consistently attracted attention.

‘I’ve always been an overachiever,’ she giggles.

‘By the time I was in my senior years at Fourways High School I was a prefect, cheerleader, played first-team netball and participated in the school’s theatre production. I did everything. My geography teacher, Mrs Du Preez, said I was going to be on TV one day because I deserved to be seen by everyone.’

Bonang’s aunt, Thole Shabane, agrees with the teacher’s assessment.

‘I’ve lived with Bonang all her life, and she’s always been this talkative, high-spirited child,’ she says.

‘She’s been dancing and performing since she was a toddler. As she grew older, she became the family performer, always entertaining us at family parties.’

Although her family celebrates her success now, Bonang admits they haven’t always been crazy about her celebrity television career.

‘I come from a very strict family of academics,’ she explains.

‘They tell me every day that they don’t want me to embarrass them, constantly threatening to ship me out of the country if I ever get out of control,’ she says, laughing.

With her natural good looks and gorgeous body, it’s easy to think Bonang has cruised her way to the top.

But her close friend of seven years, Mishumo Madima, says it’s Bonang’s hard work that sets her apart.

‘She was definitely born with it, but so were many people,’ Mishumo says.

‘What makes her stand out is that she’s willing to work hard for whatever she wants. She doesn’t let the fact that she’s famous or that other people may perceive her as having made it stand in the way of her working even harder to get to the next level. She thinks everything through, from her lines to her outfits; she gives it nothing but her best.’

Building her brand
She’s only 25, but Bonang has already achieved more than most people will in their lifetime. And she’s aware of how valuable her personal brand is.

She’s had a clothing deal with Legit, where she had her own ‘Miss B’ line, launched her own handbag collection called Baby Star, started her own production company, Bonang Matheba Entertainment, and created a fragrance called Just B, which will be launched in December – it’s all about being in control and making her brand work for her.

‘I’d rather focus on creating things that will strengthen my own brand, rather than being a brand whore, endorsing every product in the world and abiding by everyone’s rules,’ she says.

Bonang also serves as an ambassador for the ‘Carry Yourself with Confidence’ Campaign with Lifestyle SA and the Nelson Mandela International Day, and offers monthly mentoring sessions and empowering motivational talks to young women across the country.

She has also aligned herself with brands like Gert-Johan Coetzee, Brutal Fruit and Diva Divine.

The talented youngster graciously credits her team – brand manager, sponsorship manager, personal manager and publicist – for her extraordinary success. ‘They treat me like a proper product, a brand,’ she says.

Did he or didn’t he?
This is the same team that looked after the astute TV personality during her highly publicised personal drama with DJ Euphonik.

‘People didn’t really know what was going on with my relationship until the day I decided to do something about a certain situation,’ she says, referring to the alleged abuse by her ex-boyfriend.

‘That said, my relationships have nothing to do with the media, or anyone, for that matter.’

For the record, Bonang makes it very clear that she is single, and is no longer with Euphonik. She refuses to be drawn on the recent front-page tabloid allegation that she lied about the abuse.

‘I don’t attend every argument I’m invited to,’ she says.

‘I tend to ignore most of the things that are written about me. That can be to my detriment, but it’s worked for me so far. I will only respond when I feel like I really need to. A tabloid is a tabloid, and they will always have things to say.’

Fortunately for Bonang, she always has support from her loved ones. Her good friend and industry col-league Lorna Maseko is one of them.

‘Bonang is such an inspiration to so many people, and I always let her know that I’ve got her back and I’m praying for her,’ Lorna says.

Bonang is philosophical about the fact that bad press comes with the territory.

‘People are entitled to their own opinions, but at the end of the day, I stand for being true to myself and making myself happy.’

Although she always seems upbeat and on top form, Bonang admits there have been times during the past two months when she’s felt emotionally exhausted from all the negative attention.

‘I don’t always walk around in make-up and fabulous clothes,’ she says.

‘Often I just want to stay at home and do nothing. At other times, when I’m feeling down, I visit my baby brother, Thabo, or my dad, Joe Mokoena. Hopefully the worst is over now. My family always reminds me that God always gives the most difficult battles to his strongest soldiers.’

As Aunt Thole adds, ‘it hurts us as her family when she goes through such things. But we’re very supportive of her, and she knows that. We always tell her to keep her head held high. The fact that it’s happening means that God allowed it to happen, therefore she’ll get through it.’

New show
South African music lovers were taken aback in August when they heard that Bonang was leaving Live, the show that launched her career and made her a household name.

‘It’s been an unforgettable five years, filled with lots of drama, hard work, lots of emotion and lots of smiles and tears. Live has changed my life so much – because of this amazing platform, I was able to fulfil my wildest dreams,’ she posted on her website at the time.

‘I was crying when I wrote that letter,’ says Bonang. ‘It was a decision I had been thinking about making since May this year.

I was scared of being known as Bonang wa ko Live. I want to be remembered as Bonang, the amazing television presenter.

I felt I’d been on the show for a long time, and there was only so much that I could do. I’d reached the ceiling.’

After a brief break from the small screen, Bonang’s new show, The Link, starts on Thursday on SABC1, which will please her legion of adoring fans.

‘My new show is about absolutely everything in the entertainment industry,’ she says.

‘I’m going to talk about all the things I love, like fashion, red carpet events, celebrities, gossip, music and lifestyle. We’ll be talking about everything from the best eye shadow to the nicest toys for boys. There’ll also be a section called “Bonang Cares” where we’ll be helping out young people.’

The show is produced by Bonngoe Productions, the team behind SABC2’s Afro Café. Bonang is part of the production team and is very hands on, something she is notably excited about.

‘I’m also responsible for some of the online content. I feel like I can finally show people what I’m about and showcase my other skills. I’m also keen to prove how my presenting and interviewing skills have grown since I started on Live. I am going to blow it out of the park. It’s going to be so over-stylised, like fashion on steroids, because that’s what I’m about.’

Bonang will also be presenting a newly-launched music reality show on Mzansi Magic, called Clash of the Choirs South Africa. Auditions will be held in seven provinces this m

onth.

In January viewers will be able to see her on SABC1’s Intersexions.

‘I play a Sotho-speaking nurse, and I think I will surprise a lot of people,’ she says.

‘I didn’t want to audition for a big role and overwhelm myself, going there and disrespecting actors who have been doing this for years. I wanted to put my foot in the door and take things step by step and put in all the work. I believe in working hard for every single thing that I get. Don’t give me something because I’m Bonang, let me show you why you should even considered me.’

Miss B admits she was nervous about her audition.

‘I was very intimidated because this is a show that only works with the best of the best, and they’ve won numerous awards.’

Before Intersexions, she auditioned for another acting role that she didn’t get because the casting directors didn’t feel she was good enough.

In true Bonang style, she didn’t allow this setback to get her down.

Plans for the future
Despite her bubbly, party-girl image, Bonang is an astute businesswoman.

‘I’m not going to be this fabulous Bonang for another 20 years,’ she says.

‘I think what I’m doing probably has another three or four years – then it will all dwindle and it will be someone else’s turn. That’s how it is in our industry. So I do things to make sure that I’m going to be okay in the future.’

For Bonang, the best is yet to come.

‘There’s still a lot to do. I still have a talk show to do, a talent agency to open, make other people’s dreams come true, I still have a lot of CSI projects I need to do, be on a national radio station, make Baby Star the biggest brand.

‘For now, I will present every TV show like it’s my last show. My fans have been supporting everything I do. The least that I can do is give everything I do 4 000 percent.’


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