TV presenter Palesa Tembe on grief, going to therapy and her philanthropy work

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Palesa Tembe doing what she does best
Palesa Tembe doing what she does best

One woman, multiple talents.

You know her as the bubbly TV on the Afternoon Express show, but Palesa Tembe is also an actress.

South Africans met her for the first time on their screens in 2018 after she won the SABC 3 presenter search,  and now Palesa has ventured into acting, which she says has always been her first love.

Having already started to create a name for herself in two disciplines, she wants to do more acting and producing for television and radio to growing herself as a brand.

From the award-winning S3’s drama series, The Estate, to the daily lifestyle show, Afternoon Express, she gives it her all because she knows the pain of not being busy in the entertainment industry.

Currently, she is basking in gratitude for how 2022 turned out to be an answered prayer.

Raised in Umlazi, she has had to pinch herself on stages such as the South African Film and Television awards where she was hosting the red-carpet ceremony, when she realized that her dreams are coming to fruition.

Not only this, she has also joined the cover girls club for a retail magazine and will be solo-hosting the main awards ceremony for a creative media brand in October. Although she could not share the details of this lifechanging opportunity, Tembe’s eyes filled with excitement as she listed this as one of the biggest highlights of her career.

“I intentionally asked to be on [these] major stages.”

This is especially remarkable for her as after she has live through some dark periods in her life.

In 2016, Tembe watched her father go blind and she was so scared that she would lose him. Then in 2021 she lost her sister Anele ‘Nellie’ Tembe, who fell to her death from the 10th floor of a luxury hotel in Cape Town.

“I didn’t know how to deal with grief,” she says softly.

Read More | Nelli Tembe's sister Palesa on struggling to deal with grief

Around the time Nellie died, Palesa was dealing with a pay cut and loss of gigs as a result of Covid-19.

Even with the pain shouting for her attention, the show had to go on, she tells Drum.

“Your life could be falling apart but when they say 3, 2, 1… it’s action. I lost myself for over a year.”

She is finally finding peace this year and she has also started therapy in an effort to take charge of her mental health. 

Palesa Tembe
Nothing beats giving back to the community for Palesa who was serving at a soup kitchen in Tafelsig, Cape Town for Panado’s ‘A dose of care’ campaign.

Life hasn’t always been easy for 32-year-old Palesa. Growing up, she was diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability that involves difficulty in learning to read or interpret words and letters of the alphabet.

To date, the Rhodes university graduate battles with this condition which she says has helped her develop a photographic memory.

“[Although] I have everything I’ve ever prayed for, there’s an internal struggle because I’m feeling the pressure.”

Read more | She needed weekly blood donations to survive. Now Soweto woman is giving back through her own NPO

Palesa Tembe
Four years on and Tembe still enjoys being on the set of Afternoon Express in Cape Town.

She is ready to start a family of her own. Speaking on her love for children, a broody Palesa says that she is always ready to babysit.

While she is still waiting for Mr Right, she expresses love by donating regularly to orphanages. She used to volunteer for a children’s radio station and now through Panado’s ‘A dose of care’ campaign, she continues to touch children’s lives, extending it to impoverished communities.

“It’s been emotional it has taught me to extend myself more than I never thought I could,” she says.

Through this campaign, she gives nominated community-heroes a dose of care to a certain value of money, and this is matched by the Afternoon Express show that then extends its hand to someone who’s nominated by the initial nominee.

“We’re creating an ecosystem of givers. I just want to put smiles on people’s faces.”

Seeing that her philanthropy work has a life of its own, she's looking at starting a foundation in honour of her late sister’s memory and establishing a sanctuary for abused women and children.

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