We caught up with Pearl Thusi in Los Angeles to talk everything BET

Pearl Thusi (Photo: Getty)
Pearl Thusi (Photo: Getty)

Cape Town - Channel24 met up with local TV personality Pearl Thusi at the lavish Indigo Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to talk about how BET has impacted local musicians, and black culture.  

Talking about Sjava's big win at the BET awards on Sunday, 24 June, Pearl says: "I think it's fantastic that we are being recognised worldwide, but I don't think it should take an international nomination for South Africans to get excited. I think it should happen regardless."

"I think that the cross-pollination of artistry between black people across the world through BET is beautiful. Because it's connecting Africans again," she adds. 

The former Quantico actress says that BET goes "beyond the music and entertainment" and that it's about the "psychology of the black person and what they've gone through," adding: "So, we can have a better understanding of our history, and more importantly our future."

When asked about her earliest memories of the channel, she says: "I come from a background where I thought that movies were a real thing. I thought it was all happening, and someone just happened to have a camera. And with BET it took me a minute to realise, 'Oh this is a channel.'"

Pearl adds: "Even with the BET Awards. I thought it was just an award show for black people, which I thought was great. But I didn't realise that it was first the channel and then the award show."

Comparing black entertainment in South Africa to America, she says: "BET has more value here [America], because being black and on TV was an issue. But where I come from being black in entertainment is normal. Seeing someone with my skin colour, or darker than me is normal. So, for me, it's only now that I understand the American black plight of freedom and understand the value of BET."

Regardless, the South African beauty says the channel has still had an impact on her life. "For me, as an entertainer, seeing Martin Lawrence and all the other black entertainers on TV has definitely influenced me on a subconscious level, more than I could probably understand."

And what Pearl loves even more about BET is seeing black people grow, and seeing black stars celebrate each other. "It is super-cool and inspiring," she says.

She adds: "It [BET] has Influenced the comedy in my life, the music in my life, the growth in my life and the things that I've aspired to."

BET has also given Pearl the opportunity to meet people in the entertainment industry that she admires, and who she is a fan of: "Last year I sat in the second row of the main show [2017 BET Awards] and I had never told anyone until today, but I was sitting next to Cardi B.

"I followed Cardi B when she still had 1.5 million followers, and before I knew she was even a musician." 

Pearl says that she started rapping Cardi's 2016 track, On Fleek, while sitting next to her, to which Cardi responded: "Eehw" and Pearl said: "Okurr."   

She adds that Cardi would probably never remember the moment, and she honestly thinks BET made a mistake, seating her so close to the main stage.

When meeting her idols, which have included Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, DJ Khaled and Busta Rhythms, Pearl says that she tries not to "fangirl" because she knows that she will work with them one day.    

Adding that when these opportunities present itself, she thinks: "God is telling me to stay focused."

Pearl, who has spent long periods of time living in the U.S, says the more she visits America, the more she misses home. The 30-year-old says that she misses the weather, the food, and speaking her languages the most. 

"It's very exciting to be here, but I want to explore other countries. Build my brand. We have a lot more to learn from other countries," she says. 

Talking about the support and recognition African countries receive from America, she says: "I feel like there is a lot of wanting to learn. It's great that you love Africa but what are you investing in Africa?"

She adds: "America is a capitalist country. Yes, there is the interest. Because they [black people] want to learn more about their heritage and that's genuine. And I can't take that away. But the interest in Africa is parallel to profitability.

"Africa is profitable. Blackness is profitable. They are helping us with reach, we helping them with content."