SPECIAL FEATURE: PATRICIA LEWIS
Channel24 spoke to former Afrikaans pop sensation and TV personality Patricia Lewis about taking a break from the public eye, living a typical mom-life in Ballito and her plans to return to the limelight, after a nine-year hiatus.
Cape Town - When we were young, we all dreamt about being rich and famous. I fantasised about being crowned Miss South Africa, for others, it might have been performing in front of thousands of screaming fans at Madison Square Garden.
Since the rise of the social media star, it's become even easier to reach Insta-famous status, while others may struggle for years to break into the entertainment industry.
But on the flip side of the coin, you get celebrities, who've "been there, done that and got the T-shirt." They peaked, head for the door and never turned back.
Patricia Lewis is one of the few, who after ten years in the industry, looked over the fence and saw in fact, the grass is greener on the other side.
Even though she left the spotlight close to a decade ago, Patricia Lewis remains one of South Africa's most-loved personalities, with 12 platinum selling albums and several successful TV productions under her belt.
Nine years after delivering her swan song during the Supersterre season 3 finale, Patricia is now living a quiet life in Ballito and has delved into the property industry, with her husband Mark Whitfield and son Max.
Tracking down the 51-year-old singer, who is seemingly ageing in reverse, was my first challenge when putting this piece together. When I finally received a promising lead, it took me a little over a month to convince her husband to agree to an interview, during which I surely thought he was going to block my number.
"This is Patricia L here. Sorry for only getting back to you now. But you're amazing for not giving up! A characteristic of a very successful person!" I received a Whatsapp message from Patricia.
The message intensified with about ten emojis warmed my heart, and I instantly knew that I was dealing with a beautiful, kind, and gracious human.
She is so surprised by my request, saying: "I'm just so grateful that people still think of this old blonde bimbo!"
When I asked if she would prefer I call her, or communicating online, she replies: "My nails are too long to type so lekker, a phone call is perfect."
And I wasn't surprised at all to find that the former "First Lady of Afrikaans pop" hasn't changed her appearance one bit. "This is who I am, take it or leave it. I am not changing. I will have long grey hair one day, and I won't cut it," she laughs.
Referencing to a photo of Khloé Kardashian, who recently wore a curly blonde wig to Diana Ross's 75th birthday celebration, she says: "I showed the photo to my husband the other day and told him that I also knew if I wore this hairstyle long enough, it would eventually get back into fashion!"
At the height of her career, Patricia had sold over 600 000 CDs and produced three successful reality shows, but decided to leave the spotlight in 2010, when her son started grade 1.
"We had to decide which school Max was going to attend. Was it going to be in Ballito where we already had our home in Zimbali or did we want to be in Johannesburg? There was no competition. The lifestyle down here, we have the sea, and it's so much more relaxed."
"I said to myself: 'You know what. I had achieved so much more than what I could ever have possibly dreamt of in my career. All the concerts, the albums and the TV shows.' It would have been absolutely selfish to continue with my career when my baby is obviously my number one. And that was it."
When she talks about her now 15-year-old son, she adopts her trademark baby voice, and I feel like I'm back at home, in my lounge watching her deliver some not-so-good feedback to a Supersterre contestant.
But when she left the stage, she went out with a bang, performing in front of 5 000 people. "My last show was my favourite show ever, in my entire life as far as viewers are concerned and the live audience. And I thought: 'You know what? It's not going to get better than this. So, I can leave now. Bye!'" she laughs.
She admits that initially, she was only going to take "a year or two off," and dedicate her time to being a mother, but "one to two years became three, and three to four years became five."
And of course, her version was presented to the producers complete with a tomato smiley face!
But since then, Patricia has been living a comfortable life, working with her husband in the property business for the last 12 years, and also dipping her toes into the event planning, and decor business.
"Our property business became really busy. My whole lifestyle just changed. My son just finished his first year of high school, and luckily he inherited his father's great brain," she laughs.
When it comes to her son, I don't even have to ask any questions as she gushes over the teenager, every chance she gets: "He is the intellectual introvert type. His first year in high school, he got his academic colours. I'm very proud of him."
According to Patricia, he excels in maths, and computer studies. "He is a computer fundi and writes code, developing little games since he was ten years old," she says.
"He turned 15 two days ago, and he is now six foot. He is just a normal very down to earth quiet child. He is like his daddy, and he isn't loud like his mother," she giggles.
But he also inherited his mother's musical talents, and "sings like you won't believe," Patricia says.
He also plays the piano very well and is self-taught, but has "no interest in the entertainment industry."
But that is one of the reasons the couple decided to relocate to the coastal town so that their son would have a "normal life."
When the property business goes through a lull period, Patricia is very involved in various charity organisations, and regularly bakes cakes, and delivers care packages to orphanages and nursing homes in the community.
Speaking about her charitable work, Patricia gets excited and I can hear the passion in her voice. "I get so much pleasure out of it. Seeing people's faces light up, especially those who don't have what I would wish for them to have. It's so rewarding, much more than a gold or platinum album. It's just is on another level."
One of the life lessons she has learnt during her time in the spotlight, she says is: "Treat people the way that you would like the be treated. I hope that I have, and will continue to do that in my life because that is what I believe. Stay humble, or bugger off."
She then sheepishly apologises for saying bugger off.
"Whether you're on stage or TV, whether you are in the audience, sweeping the street or if you are around the corner cleaning that toilet. We are all the same. Flesh and blood, created by the same force, whatever you believe in, I believe it's God. We are all equal."
Patricia, who once adamantly said that she wouldn't make a return to TV, now says that a new project might prove her previous statements wrong.
Through the new TV project, she hopes to involve all her charities and her "love for baking, cooking, decor and flower arranging."
According to Patricia, who couldn't reveal too much at this stage, the project will be filmed at her house and produced as a semi-reality show where she will be putting her skills, talents and contacts to good use. We might also have to opportunity to meet Mark and Max.
"I have been very blessed in my life, and I have an absolute need to give back."
Her plans to make a comeback won't just end there, she says. "I'll maybe release another album if the public allows me," she laughs.
Adding jokingly: "I also sing a little bit," in her baby voice.
The premiere of the show also has the possibility of being accompanied by a cookbook, and a revamp of all her social media platforms - so we can once again see how the blonde with ambition keeps busy.
"It's kind of what I am chewing on at the moment. I'm hoping that it will still happen sometime this year. I'm very adamant that it is going to happen this year."
But sadly we won't be seeing the return of Supersterre anytime soon, as that chapter in her life has closed. "The greatest moment in my career was when the first winner's album reached gold status. I cried so much, even more than when my album went gold. I'm so happy that I was able to have a hand in their success. "
AN EPISODE OF BANG JAN DOOIE JAN
Patricia also credits a lot of her happiness and success to her husband, Mark and says: "He is a very supportive human. He wakes up the same every single morning - same temperament, same smile, and 17 years later I still adore him."
Thinking back to the day that they met, she says: "I was filming an episode for Bang Jan Dooie Jan, where we went paragliding. I was so scared and crying. My mascara was running down my face, and I looked like one of the band members from Kiss.
"He was one of the paragliding guys, and I when I saw him I thought: 'Dis nou mooi'," she giggles, adding: "I said: 'Please God, don't let me die so I can at least meet this sexy guy who just jumped before me.'"
She made sure that when she landed on solid ground, he was close to her so she could be the first to hug him. On the crew's drive back to Johannesburg they started chatting and realised that they stay somewhat close to each other.
"I invited him over for tea, he came to visit two months later, and I haven't been able to get rid of him since!"
The only difference is, Mark is making the tea now.
(Photos: Gallo/Supplied by Patricia Lewis)