He's in the big leagues now. He's gone from doing Vines and Tiktok videos to working on a Netflix campaign – and he's not taking any of it for granted.
Popular streaming service Netflix recently launched the “Netflix e batla …" campaign, a localised version of “Netflix and Chill”, for the South African winter season.
The campaign will see actors such as Candice Modiselle from Jiva!, Tumi Morake from Seriously Single, Ama Qamata and Gail Mabalane from Blood and Water posting about the ways their social media followers can enjoy Netflix this season.
And rising star Molemo Lehoko, fondly known by his social media followers as the funny, no-holds barred comedian and DJ Lemii LoCo, is joining in the fun.
“I was approached by Netflix and asked to send in an audition tape. What people might not know is that I was really not doing great that day, a lot of things weren’t going right. But Netflix was on my vision board and I knew that this was an opportunity I’d really been praying for and I made it through.”
And he is grabbing this opportunity with both hands. “It means that dreams delayed are not dreams denied and that I am worthy. It meant that I was no longer just another funny guy on TikTok and to be recognised by Netflix means I’m doing something right.”
He tells Drum about his first paying promo. “I got paid R5 000 for promoting and attending an event. I thought I really had made it!"
Since then, Lemii has worked on more than 20 campaigns. He also recently got his first voice-over job alongside Florence Masebe for MTN Momo and SABC TV Licence.
“My favourite campaign thus far has been with Netflix,” he says.
Before becoming a social media content creator, Lemii worked for an insurance company.
“I had quit my nine-to-five job at a big insurance company to pursue a career as a DJ," Lemii says.
“DJs mostly work at night, and on weekends and I had a lot of time on my hands during the week as a newly unemployed person. So I started doing Vines, before TikTok to pass time."
And he fell in love with making people laugh through his content.
“My content got a lot of attention and I just didn’t stop. What I do is like swallowing a happy pill. My job is to make people laugh, something I’ve always loved doing. I’ve always been so obsessed with making people laugh.
"It was definitely only about just having fun in the beginning. Next thing I know it became a serious passion and a job that paid,” Lemii says.
“But I love getting to work with brands that I grew up seeing and loving. I never thought I’d ever work with a brand like Netflix."
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Born in Tlhabane in the North West, Lemii was raised by a single father. “But my mom and I have always been very close, and I know I’m her favourite child between me and my half-brother.”
He got the name Lemii LoCo from childhood friends.
“It's derived from my actual name and surname. I was in a dance group and one of the members couldn’t pronounce my real name and she called me Mlemi Loko and that eventually evolved to the stylised Lemii LoCo,” he says.
Growing up he was never popular, and with 107 000 followers on Instagram and 32 300 on Twitter, he now seems to have made up for it, which is why he is taking his hobby seriously.
“I was never a popular kid, I was always bullied and overlooked. But I’ve always known I was a creative kid and I loved comedy. When I changed schools, suddenly, I was a pretty boy that all the girls wanted,” Lemii says.
“University was okay, but I had to drop out after the first year because of financial difficulties. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I studied Business Management and ended up at a big insurance company, and they put me through school to be an FAIS accredited broker,” he adds.
Content creation has opened doors for him.
“I’ve always wanted to own a business and what I studied helps me run LoCo Entertainment, an entity I built to help me and other creatives in making content,” Lemii says.
His goal is to create a platform or a TV station where great creators can make magic.
“I know the timing of this might just look a little too convenient, but I looked up to Shona Ferguson. He embodied everything I wanted to achieve career-wise and family-wise. We lost a great role model. Right now, I just really want to be one of the greatest creatives to ever do it. I have so many concepts and ideas in the bank and I can’t wait to present to the world."