What it takes to be a YouTube star – Lasizwe gives some insights

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Lasizwe chats about his life in the entertainment industry
Lasizwe chats about his life in the entertainment industry
PHOTO: TWITTER/@lasizwe

He started off small. He would often have to balance his phone on a windowsill while doing his videos. 

Then he moved on to a tripod, which he used while growing the number of his followers on all social media platforms. He then got a cameraman and now he's got a whole team taking care of all the bits and pieces of his work so he can focus on content. 

Lasizwe has come far in what might seem like a relatively short time, but he worked for it, he says. 

He's got a vibrant personality and lights up every room he walks into but Lasizwe wants South Africans to know that he is more than just a pretty face.

His face is everywhere from Facebook to Instagram and YouTube. So much so that he is one of the inaugural #YouTubeBlackVoices African content creators who received a grant for the development of their channels.

The 23 YouTubers from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa took part in an intensive three-week incubator programme followed by bespoke training, workshops and networking programmes. 

Read more | ‘My relationship lasted six seconds’ – Lasizwe says after break up

Lasizwe tells Drum that he learnt of the initiative after reading up on it online and thought it would be a great way grow his channel.

He has been on YouTube for four years creating content that he believes make him relatable. So far, he's got over 590 000 followers and his videos always get millions of views.

“When I first started, I used to balance my phone on the windowsill, cabanga (imagine),” he laughs. “I then graduated to using a tripod stand and later a camera. I then had a camera person and now my team has grown to also having a content director, and editor and an administrator.”

He pays the people in his team from the money generated from the videos he creates.

“When you reach a minimum of 4 000 hours of watch-time and a more than 1 000 subscribers then YouTube allows you to join the monetization programme and add ads to your content. So basically, every time you skip an ad, someone gets paid.

“I really love creating content and being part of this initiative has been life changing. I have learnt so much because we attended different classes where they equipped up and I learnt a lot from those classes. We were even able to be part of a seminar with the YouTube CEO – it was an inspiring session. We also got equipment which is really great. This is honestly a youth skills development platform.”

He says YouTube is really looking at what Africans are consuming and wanting to provide that content as much as possible.

“Its about making content that speaks to you and it could be about anything from hair product reviews or videos about your mom, it could literally be about anything that interests you and if done correctly, you can have subscribers and start making money from it once all the boxes are ticked.”

“I am grateful for this opportunity.”

He says it is time for him to do something different because he has been in the entertainment industry for five years.

“I have recently discovered that I have a philanthropic side and I would like to pursue that. I have gone quiet a bit in the industry. I’ve acted, been on TV, radio and a movie. I think it is time to evolve and elevate.”

He is not afraid of being in his sister, Khanyi Mbau’s shadow because he has “paid his dues”.

Read more| Lasizwe named one of the top 10 most influential young South Africans

“When I started in the industry I deliberately kept her a secret because I did not want to be getting gigs or booked because I am ubhuti ka Khanyi (Khanyi’s brother). Now I believe that I have solidified my space in the industry. I have earned my stripes.

“Also, she and I are running different races. Yes, we may be in the same industry, but we operate in different spaces. I think she is more luxury while I am more mass market. I am just intwana yase kasi (a guy from the township) and people relate to that."

He was publicly ridiculed and mocked as he mourned his father’s passing and he says that was one of the hardest things he had ever gone through.

“The reality is that I as buried my father there was someone else who was also burying their father or had just found out that their father had died. Being a public figure does not make me immune to the hardships that other people go through. Famous or not, we all go through the same things,” he says.

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