Expresso's Leigh-Anne on 12 years in TV: 'My fear of failure almost stopped me from doing what I love'

Cape Town - Best known for co-hosting the feel good morning show Expresso, as well as hosting her own radio show on Good Hope FM, Leigh-Anne Williams is celebrating 12 years in the entertainment industry in 2019. 

Leigh-Anne says that growing up her family had "very little," and her idea of what the entertainment industry was like, was based on the glitz and glam she saw on TV.

"I wanted to wear pretty clothes, and make people smile whether I was an actress, action star or a news reporter. People on TV always seemed to be so confident and well spoken. I wanted to be all of that, and so much more," she says.

But before she started her illustrious career in TV, Leigh-Anne was holding down a regular nine to five job in recruitment, while taking acting lessons on the side. 

It was only when she decided to get an agent that her career started to really take off. The budding actress was quickly cast in a local TV series, and eight months later she was approached by Expresso to be a guest presenter on the show for a week. 

But as fate would have it, Leigh-Anne remained a permanent fixture on the show for six years. 

Leigh-Anne Williams

About who inspires her to keep going during difficult times, she says: "My mom definitely inspires me. She is the strongest and most courageous, hard-working, upstanding and resilient person that I know."

Never one to back down from a challenge, Leigh-Anne impressed the country when she juggled her already busy schedule on Expresso and Good Hope FM with participating in the eighth season of Strictly Come Dancing in 2015. 

Speaking about her experience on the reality dance competition, Leigh-Anne, who placed second, says that competing in the competition helped her "overcome her nerves and fear of failure."

"The sheer magnitude of the competition pushed me to confront every insecurity week in and out in front of millions of people. I can now confidently say I don't deal with nerves and I've never been happier or more confident."

"I used to be the biggest ball of nerves when I started out in radio and TV. My nerves would sometimes turn into mini panic attacks, and at times this would reduce my ability to speak. It wasn't that I wasn't good, it was my fear of failure that was so overwhelming that it nearly stopped me from doing what I loved most," she adds. 

Leigh-Anne Williams

Leigh-Anne, who has had the opportunity to interview international celebrities like Julia Roberts, Hugh Jackman, Taron Egerton, and Benedict Cumberbatch, says the most memorable story she has covered was when she travelled to England to interview Idris Elba.

"Even more-so that the interview, I met him the next day after Nelson Mandela had passed away, and just being able to hang out with him and Nelson Mandela's daughters in a very authentic and private moment. We all just spent the time together celebrating Tata uNelson Mandela's life, it was a very special moment," she says.

When asked about her career highlight, Leigh Anne once again struggles to pin down one specific event: "Again, I don't know there's been so many, but I think one of my career highlights is just the people that I get to meet." 

Having learnt many life lessons along during her TV career, spanning well over a decade, Leigh-Anne says she wishes that when she was younger she knew that "things take time and that life is a journey."

If she could go back in time, she would tell herself: "You're not going to get it right from the beginning. Be patient with yourself. Don't criticise yourself or be negative towards yourself. You'll get to where you need to be at the right time, so just be patient."

Leigh-Anne Williams

Leigh-Anne's zest for life motivates her to pursue her dream of one day hosting her own TV talk show. But for now she is focused on health and fitness.

"The entertainment industry is constantly on the go, which keeps me on my toes, but I also need to make sure that I can keep up with what my career choices throw at me. Ensuring I'm in peak physical condition is paramount to achieving longevity in this fast-paced world I live in." 

When she isn't working, Leigh-Anne says that she enjoys doing "absolutely nothing," adding: "I enjoy just being in my home being quiet. Catching up on sleep is also priority since I get so little."

To her fans, Leigh-Anne says: "Nothing worth having is obtained easily. Keep pushing. Keep working hard. Keep believing in yourself."

(Photos: Gallo)
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