This story previously appeared in the print edition of Move!
TMI co-presenter Gabisile Tshabalala, who’s pregnant with her second child, says she’s become a new person. During her first pregnancy the star was allegedly fired from a soapie because of it. This time she’s enjoying her growing bump – and wants to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to other women.
"I’ve noticed that once you start speaking up, you’re seen as a diva or a horrible person so they need to get rid of you," she says. But adds that speaking your mind is important: "If I’m not happy about something, I’ll approach you."
With so many women crying in silence, she says it feels right to speak up for those who can’t – which is why she started the #SoWhatIAmPregnant hashtag on social media so women can tell their stories.
"I’ve gotten to a point where I’m not afraid anymore. I feel it’s my duty to speak out for the quiet ladies." Gabisile (29) was allegedly fired in 2015 when she was only a few weeks pregnant. "I was fired by women who have kids."
She saw it coming: "Before the pregnancy thing there had been other issues. They’d call me into the office to tell me I was making a noise in the morning." It was never about her work but things happening outside work. "I remember asking for a raise. They said if I wanted a raise they’d replace me." That was a year before she got pregnant and was officially let go.
"I guess it was time. I think God prepared me for it, but when it happened I was heartbroken. I cried. I even went back to them after giving birth, asking for a job." They said no. When Gabisile started the campaign she realised it wasn’t only in the entertainment industry that women were crying in silence. "I got a lot of women in corporate. I was shocked. There were a few in my industry."
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
Life is different now.
"I remember jokingly telling my bosses at Moja Love that I was pregnant, I hoped they wouldn’t fire me. They said it wasn’t going to happen."
When she told them, in 2019, she was three months pregnant. "This year we had a meeting to plan the way forward with the show. I thanked them for keeping me because I know how it is in the industry." She says she’s grateful things are different now and that she wasn’t scared to reveal her pregnancy. "I told myself that whatever happens will happen. That’s why I revealed it to them."
GOD KEPT ME SANE’
Gabisile says she takes everything she goes through to God. "I’ve had a relationship with God that just gets better with the challenges I face." She recalls that when she started out in the entertainment industry in 2009, she spoke to God about entering a space she’d never been in.
"I said, God, you know what tomorrow holds. I’m going to follow you. I don’t want to be sucked into this worldly thing." She believes God put her in the industry because He wanted her to speak about Him. "There are people more talented than me, but He chose me."
She hopes to take the #SoWhatIAm- Pregnant campaign further. "It wasn’t just a trend on Twitter." She’s working with a human resources specialist, Nomazibulo Tshanga, on ways to teach women about their rights. She also wants to keep her acting career alive. "I also hope there’ll be more gigs to come."