From child star to superstar: Somizi Mhlongo's 30-year career in showbiz starting at age 13

Somizi Mhlongo (Photo: Gallo)
Somizi Mhlongo (Photo: Gallo)

We've seen cases of celebrity children who couldn't handle the pressure of their famous parents, but Somizi Mhlongo proved that talent runs in his blood and started his acting career at the age of 13 in 1987.

Family connections can only take you so far, but Somizi, born to veteran actress Mary Twala and actor Ndaba Mhlongo, was exposed to the entertainment industry at a very young age and seized every opportunity offered to him. 

Despite one or two hiccups along the way (a flunked music career we won't mention), Somizi is still just as "acrobatly ostentatiously berivical" as he was 30 years ago. Did we use that right? 

Let's take a look at where it all started and how we got here. 


Somizi made his acting debut at the age of 13, appearing in the 1987 film, Scavengers and the Broadway show Sarafina. He went on to travel the world for five years with the production and starred in the film adaptation of the same name.

In 2018, Somizi proved that the iconic dance moves will forever be embedded in his brain, when he showed off the original moves in a spontaneous Twitter video - taking us back down memory lane. 

If you're feeling nostalgic, you can stream Sarafina! for free here


Somizi's career in TV as a presenter, reality TV judge, award show host, and actor spans over 30 years. (What a mouthful, I think we got it all.) 

Years before Idols SA, Somizi made a name for himself as an actor in the TV and movie industry, starring in Cry, the Beloved Country and the series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures.

While some might think that Idols SA was Somizi's first bout at the judging table, "SomGaGa", who famously coined the phrase "Whoo shem" was also a judge on perhaps lesser-known reality dance shows Dance Your Butt Off and Step Up or Step Out

After conquering the world of acting, choreography (we'll get to that in a moment) and consistently bagging reality TV gigs one after the other, Somizi premiered his own reality show Living the Dream with Somizi in 2016. 

We've saved the best for last! Somizi and his husband, Mohale's spectacular wedding special on Showmax titled Somizi & Mohale: The Union broke viewing records on the local streaming service after it launched in February, taking the cake as "the show with the most views ever on its first day" - bigger than any Hollywood blockbuster show that has premiered on the streaming platform.  


After making his choreography debut on Sarafina! as a teenager, Somizi went on the choreograph major South African events including the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. 

If we start listing Somizi's entire choreography resume, you'll be scrolling down well into the early hours of tomorrow morning, but career highlights include Miss South Africa, Metro FM Awards, Channel O Music Video Awards and the Afcon 2013 opening and closing ceremonies. 

Somizi also released a workout DVD in 2016, titled Grind! With Somizi, which featured popular local dance moves. The DVD reached platinum status, selling over 20 000 units.

The release of the DVD came after Somizi did several YouTube workout videos under the name Kwaitone Dance Fitness with Somizi

And one, and two, and three, and breathe...


Not settling for the titles of actor, choreographer and reality TV star, Somizi ventured into radio in 2017, co-hosting a morning show on Metro FM. 

Currently, Somizi co-hosts Metro FM's The Bridge with Dineo Ranaka and Lerato Kganyago.  

We haven't reached the end of our list yet, but is there anything that Somizi can't do?


In 2017, Somizi released his an autobiography titled Dominoes, Unbreakable Spirit. He co-wrote the book alongside journalist and author Lesley Mofokeng, sharing anecdotes and learning from his life in showbiz as well as his childhood, sexuality and friendships.

ALSO READ: Somizi's memoir not a tell-all but rather an inspire-all

Honourable mentions include being named ambassador for DStv, and being the face of McDonald's South Africa's McCafé Coach Sessions.

One thing is for sure, we've only scratched the surface of what's to come from one of the countries biggest, brightest, and boldest entertainers. 

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