This article previously appeared in the print edition of Drum Magazine.
She practically grew up in the limelight – but the thought
of exposing her private space terrified her and for many years she simply
refused to do it. What if viewers judged her? What if they were mean? Could she
deal with the unnerving thought of fans having even more access to her life?
These questions and more swirled around in Boity Thulo’s mind every time she
was approached to do a reality TV show.
For years she said no when asked to do so, but now she’s decided to bare all in Boity: Own Your Throne, which airs on BET (DStv channel 135) on Wednesdays at 9.30pm. And no topic’s off limits – she’s holding nothing back, Boity tells DRUM. She’s laying her soul bare on her reality show, even giving viewers a glimpse into her sacred journey as a sangoma. “When I decided I’m going to venture into this I was comfortable with who I am and my life,” she says. “I’ve accepted many things. I’m more mature than I was a few years ago.
“The things I show have never been seen, not even on my Instagram posts. I was nervous and often asked myself what the f*** I was doing. Is it necessary for me to show my private life? “I was even nervous that people would judge what dress I was wearing, or my weight gain,” she says.
Three years ago, Boity (29) made waves when she branched into business and launched her own weight-loss pill. And who can forget that bare-butt picture that went viral after Boity did a nude photoshoot for a magazine in 2014? But these days the former fitness fanatic is sporting a fuller figure – and people on social media have taken note.
“Last year I didn’t post any bikini pictures because I was feeling fat and my clothes really didn’t fit,” she says. “People who say ‘a little bit of weight gain’ are being kind – I’ve gained a lot of weight. My mom even disses me a few times on the show about it. “It’s something I’m very insecure about. I even got rid of my scale when I saw how much weight I gained. But I’m working on getting my body back. “I’ve just been very busy – busy gaining weight, too busy to go to gym, and by the time I get home from a long day I just want to take off my shoes and relax.”
Luckily many people on social media supported her when she recently posted a picture of herself on Instagram, looking gorgeous, relaxed and sun-kissed. It was her first post of that kind in months – and it went viral. “I owed myself a bikini shot because I was feeling insecure,” she says. “I was trying to boost my confidence by posting those pics. I was feeling very awkward and the positive compliments really helped boost my confidence and motivated me to get my body back.” Now she’s working out again and is on a strict diet. “I’ve started running again. It’ll help drop my weight instead of going straight to lifting weights,” she explains. “I’ve also started eating more greens. For me a good diet is more important.”
In a way the show is also taking her life in a new direction, Boity says. Even though she’s worked in the entertainment industry for many years it still was a huge step for her. “The offers have been coming in for years but I kept saying no,” she tells DRUM.
“Letting people into my life and having the last bit of privacy taken away from me felt uncomfortable.” As any celebrity would tell you, social media can be a brutal and unforgiving place. And Boity knows this all too well – it’s partly what made her nervous about shooting a reality TV show. “Sometimes opening yourself up to another level of criticism where people judge your character is nerve-racking, as if the little amount of hate I sometimes get on social media isn’t enough,” she says. She’s certainly no stranger to having her movements monitored, especially by fans and the media.
But even though Boity’s tried to monitor what the public sees of her personal life through her social media platforms, it’s nothing like having cameramen occupy your space for weeks at a time, their invasive lenses trained on your every move. “Everything I’ve given out to people has been enough for me to manage,” she explains. “Now delving into bits and corners of my life made me vulnerable.” In the end, taking ownership of her story is what won out and made her forge ahead with Boity: Own Your Throne. “But I restrict shooting to the lounge and in my kitchen. I’m not trying to show off my house, but I do want to give people a glimpse of my space,” the powerhouse says.
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Her love-life and exactly how she builds her empire are hot topics on social media – and now fans will finally have Boity share it all with them. “People always wonder how I make money, and they’ll get to see me at work interacting with business partners, clients and brands. “But nothing serious like wearing suits in a boardroom,” she quips. Her last high-profile relationship was with Cassper Nyovest. Boity has kept her love life quiet since and won’t comment on rumours she’s dating Congolese basketballer Christian Eyenga. “When it comes to my love life, I don’t want to give everything away. But whatever comes up on the show is authentic and real.”
The TV show certainly wouldn’t be authentic without her beloved mom, Modiehi Thulo. Getting her mother to agree to appear was easy, she says. “My mom and I discussed it at length, and I asked if she’d be comfortable taking part. “She’s very supportive of my career choices and agreed to feature here and there – but I didn’t think she’d end up stealing the show! “People will see her craziness. She might as well get her own show because she’s hilarious. I don’t know if it was intentional, but she has perfect comedic timing. ‘‘When the cameras start rolling, she just goes. I didn’t know she’d be that funny and camera-ready.”
Boity says Modiehi, a former nurse, has always had an interest in a life in the limelight. “She’s been living vicariously through me. Maybe now it’s her time. “She gets this fame thing more than me. She understands stardom and I just found myself here. I got bitten by this bug and I just have to keep it moving.” Mom and daughter are as close as can be and, like Modiehi, Boity takes pleasure in helping people.
If she wasn’t a hugely successful rapper with her own reality TV show she’d most certainly have completed her psychology and criminology studies, and ended up doing “anything with children or criminal minds”, she says. She cares deeply about children – and this may be the one topic she doesn’t unpack for the cameras. Her heart often goes out to young South Africans who are battling to improve their lives through education, she says.
Boity is often asked for help on social media by students who need financial support. She understands what they’re going through, because single mom Modiehi couldn’t afford to put her only daughter through university. That’s why Boity regularly digs deep in her pockets to help where she can. “I don’t show this side of me on the reality show because I hate exposing people’s vulnerabilities,” she says firmly. “That’s not for show. I wouldn’t want to include someone’s story in mine. Me helping them is their story, not mine.” It isn’t always easy to decide who to help out of the many pleas for assistance, she says.
But Boity draws on her inner voice to help guide her who to choose. She selected all the people she’s helped on instinct, she says. “It’s all spirit-led. I scroll through my timeline and when something catches my attention and jumps at me, I go for it. “It’s a spiritual thing. I don’t sit and choose or plan it or have a roster.” Of course, she can’t help every single person who turns to her for help. “It’s not possible for me to help everyone. I’m not a billionaire,” she says. “But helping people is all part of my calling. I don’t do it for anything in return. I do it for the feeling of knowing I’ve helped someone.”