It might have taken a little while for Mzansi to warm up to reality TV but now, it's one of the most popular genres.
From celebrities and influencers showing off their lives, to cheating partners being caught live on camera and addicts trying to get clean, reality TV has become a favourite for South African viewers.
One of the women who's bringing this content is actress and executive producer Sonia Mbele (44), who says it's been a joy to watch the country fall in love with reality TV.
“There was this thing that reality TV is scripted and that is what I wanted to dispel. People on these shows are not actors, it is who they are and what they show is their daily lives. I am so happy this where we are now,” she says.
The former Generations actress turned writer and producer has a new reality show up her sleeves, Pastors’ Wives which will air on new channel Honey on DStv 173 from 19 February.
“I thought about what people are curious about or interested in as far as pastors’ wives are concerned. I came up with a tag line ‘even women of God know how to exhale’, that breathes life to what it is all about,” she adds.
Sonia says viewers must just expect realism and dispelling of stereotypes.
“The show is really about watching these women and realizing that they are human, they are flawed, they make mistakes and going through so much. We will see the human aspect of the whole Christian world. So, there are those who are like 'I am as I am take me as I am' and you find characters who are always hiding behind the Bible and Christianity which is fine if that is who you are,” the Real Housewives of Johannesburg producer says.
Innocent Sadiki, Nandipha Mlombi, Phume Khethang, Anietie Ezeimo, Adeyola De Costa are the official cast members of the new show.
Many who have followed her career and still affectionately relate to her as Ntombi from SABC 1 soapie Generations might not know that she started writing for Mzansi Magic movies years ago.
“Reality TV became an extension of what I have always done in the industry. I have never wanted to be a fly by night, I have always wanted that staying power and this has allowed me to move into the next chapter,” she adds.
Sonia has learnt some hard lessons along the way.
“It has not been easy. It has been sleepless nights, it has been stress, it has been sabotages. It has been partnering and working with the wrong people. I have had to regroup and start thinking and asking myself about who is responsible for my growth, it is me."
Her philosophy in life is ‘if it is to be, it is up to me’, she tells us.
“I decided that from that time that I am going to work with myself, by myself and I would rather bring a group of people I know, I believe and trust than partnering with people who are coming for whatever reason. Self-growth, now I am running things on my own. Sonia Mbele brand, Sonia Mbele legacy. I am grateful to God, I am at peace. I was not driven by fame, fame was never my thing, it has always been about legacy,” she adds.