Another day, another slay: the year of Queen B

2014-12-21 15:00

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Media personality Bonang Matheba’s business success reached new heights in 2014. She spent time with Gugulethu Mhlungu to tell her what it’s like winning all year long

Photographer Nick Boulton’s Craighall Park studio. It’s a steaming hot early December afternoon. A cool and unflappable Bonang Matheba is shooting her first Christmas card to send to friends and family. It’s a fine end to a year in which she owned the celebrity scene.

In fact, Bonang has been unstoppable since joining Top Billing as a presenter in December 2012. She became the global ambassador for Revlon cosmetics (alongside Halle Berry) in June last year and since then it’s been another first, another cover, another new gig, or in her words “another day, another slay”.

Stylist Lu Afrika is popping in and out of the dressing room to check if Bonang and make-up artist extraordinaire Nthato Mashishi need anything, like cold Champagne (it’s “champers darling, always champers”).

Bonang appears in the first of three looks, a red dress and a gold crown. Afrika serves as a fluffer – fluffing out the dress. Bonang makes it look easy, moving from laughing and chatting with the crew to instantly charming and looking sultry for the camera.

She says with an air of disbelief: “2014 has to be the biggest year of my life.” She kicked it off by launching her Bonang For Distraction lingerie line for Woolworths. She became a Miss SA judge in March and, in one of the biggest radio programming announcements of the year, she became the new host of Metro FM’s 9am-to-12pm slot in April.

She appeared on two Previdar magazine covers, and on the covers of True Love, a Nigerian magazine named Zen, Bona, Dossier and, most recently, Glamour.

She hosted the Saftas and Samas, and snagged major endorsements from Cîroc vodka and Magnum ice cream. “Unlike other years, there’s been something huge every month,” she says in her enunciated, live-on-air voice.

So how did she do it?

“It’s because it’s all very well planned in advance. We knew we were doing this shoot in June already.”

She’s now in her second look: an improvised white dress with a crown of decorations. Her team moves around like ninjas and Bonang trusts them completely.

“In January, I launch my Valentine’s Day lingerie collection. There’s a Top Billing insert for that. There’s the visual marketing for that. End of January is the J&B Met live broadcast and the week after it’s the Metro FM Music Awards. In March, I go to Morocco because I have been invited by the king to speak at a summit. And then April, let’s hope, is the renewal of all the radio contracts and then in May...”

She also has two new TV shows (Clash of the Choirs and an SABC3 show) next year. She can’t reveal details of the new show, but says: “It is consumer driven and we are going to be asking for entries from the public.”

Bonang is able to cross from glam fashion to choirs to public service with ease. But does she ever rest?

“Siwo does my diary, Jade my bookings and Zoe does my PR and marketing. And I have asked for one day a week to rest,” she laughs, “or I’ll go crazy!”

Apart from a dream team and good planning, she says her secret weapons are consistency and respect.

“When people book Bonang, they know what they are getting. It is consistent and so you build loyalty and people keep booking you. I’ve learnt that the easiest way to respect people is respecting their time, so I am on time and professional.”

Even in the meticulously planned schedule, this year still had surprises. “Glamour was surprising, so were the Saftas and Miss SA ... That wasn’t in our plans.”

Next year, she’ll also be putting on her executive producer’s hat at Bonang Matheba Entertainment.

“I am going to be working on a TV movie, as well as a reality show about four young, funky women ... I’m tired of seeing black women being put on TV hitting each other, climbing on tables. That’s not all we are.

“This show is about four young women busting their guts trying to make it in their business and sports careers because people think you come to Joburg and it’s hunky-dory. But maybe people need to see young people just like them working hard.”

Despite her enviable success, South Africa’s media queen has learnt some tough lessons this year. “I have learnt that you are replaceable in entertainment. I saw it with Generations and the jobs I did.”

She lost her radio gig for a while this year because of a conflict of broadcaster interest.

“You can never just be complacent and think you are the be-all and end-all, because you are replaceable. You are not bigger than a TV or radio show, or magazine cover or a R4?million Revlon billboard, so you need to make sure you’re ahead of the pack because there are a lot of us doing this thing.”

I eventually leave five hours into the shoot and Bonang is now in her third look: still looking fresh-faced in a glittering silver gown.

Her selfie from the shoot reads: “Another day ... Another click click!!” Slay on, slayer.

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