At just 18 years old, Lerai Rakoditse has turned her childhood dream into reality.
The Johannesburg-born presenter, creative entrepreneur and self-proclaimed change-maker has made history as the first African face for the Nickelodeon channel and host for its new fun-filled, family-friendly music show, NickMusic which premiered on 17 May.
Speaking to TRUELOVE, Rakoditse says that she’s always been fond of the limelight since she was a little girl.
“I loved performing from a very young age, I remember putting on little shows for my mother and whatever guest we had over while they sat at the dinner table," she says.
"I then started modelling at 5 years and started taking drama classes from age 9. Eventually, after training for 6 years and doing local and national drama competitions, I wanted to start working professionally and from there, everything is pretty much history."
She tells us more about the show, her future plans and her foundation.
How do you feel about making history as the channel’s first African presenter?
It’s so surreal! I’ve always thought that only really special and amazing people make history. Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams, Oprah, Miriam Makeba, Trevor Noah - those people have made history. I definitely don’t take it lightly either, we live in a world where firsts are very rare.
It’s 2021, everything has been done before or invented already, so to be the first on my continent, the continent that houses the world’s youngest population and has the most opportunity for growth and innovation in the world is amazing. It’s also a lot of responsibility, I’ve got so many young people watching me and I have to be cognisant of what that stands for and what it brings.
Tell us about the day you received a call from Nickelodeon, where were you and who did you tell first?
It was the day after my call back. I had performed a few links in front of the camera for the first time and I was really nervous about the outcome. When I got the call, I felt a bit anxious, they were either going to tell me that I got the job or that I didn’t.
‘Hey Lerai, so… do you want a job?’; they were so nonchalant about it. Naturally, I ran downstairs, screaming and stomping my feet everywhere yelling 'I GOT THE JOB!'. My mom was in a virtual meeting and I might’ve interrupted something really important, oops. I couldn’t help it though, I was (and still am) so grateful to God for such an amazing blessing.
Tell us a bit about the show, what can viewers expect to see?
NickMusic is a fun filled, family-friendly music show playing fan favourites and up and coming tunes that both parents and kids can enjoy together after school. The proudly locally-produced music show will feature music from African artists and across the world. It will air on NickToons (DStv Channel 308) from 17 May 2021, every Monday – Friday at 16:25 CAT / 15:25 WAT.
What will you be bringing to the NickMusic show?
My fun NickMusic Moves and quirky personality, The music always gets me up on my feet and I know it’ll do the same for everyone watching too!
You often refer to yourself as a social change-maker, please tell us more about this?
I refer to myself as a change-maker because I am very passionate about the African Youth and its culture. Social Media has made the world so much smaller and technology has allowed us to exist in a digital community. I realise the magnitude of that and the ground-breaking change that can come from us being so connected, so I use my platforms to connect and collaborate with other young people in order to have strategic conversations that drive change and impact with a key focus on youth, entrepreneurship and women empowerment.
You are also currently the executive of the Girl UP foundation, tell us more about that?
Girl Up Johannesburg is a club under the global Girl Up leadership development organisation that is hosted at the United Nations Foundation. Girl Up engages, trains, and mobilises girls around the world to take action to achieve global gender equality.
What other projects are you currently working on and where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
I’ve just finished writing a proposal for a youth entrepreneurial show and I'm currently looking for funding. I might also be collaborating with young creatives to do something fashion related soon. I currently co-produce and host a web-series with Sportscene called Culture Conversations powered by Reebok. Overall, I aspire to be a strong female voice in Africa who addresses issues amongst the youth, as well as working towards the empowerment of women.
Which TV personalities do you look up to and why?
Nomzamo Mbatha, Meghan Markle and Yara Shahidi are my top three. I love how they’ve used their platforms to also be advocates for social good and change. I look up to them so much, they’re such powerful women.
What advice do you have for your younger fan base who may aspire to be where you are today?
My mother taught me about the red ocean, blue ocean strategy. The red ocean is highly saturated and very competitive, resulting in limited room to grow. The blue ocean is the direct opposite and often the place where fewer people tend to go but it’s also the place that nurtures innovation. It’s meant to be applied in business but I’ve always considered it when approaching my work. What isn’t already being done and how can I make it special? That’s my way of saying 'be unique and stay true to yourself'.