Cape Town – South African television’s IT-girl, Bonang Matheba, is throwing open the doors to her life in the year’s most anticipated reality show, Being Bonang.
In the 11-episode series starting tonight on VUZU AMP (DStv 103) at 19:30, viewers will get to see a side of Bonang, whose actually a very private and guarded person, that she’s never revealed before.
Get ready for dramatic moments ranging from arguments, disagreements and (spoiler alert!) people getting fired – but also intimate moments with best friends, family and her romantic relationship.
Why did you decide to do Being Bonang and how is it different from the other TV shows and projects viewers have seen you in until now?
Four and a half years ago I did an online reality show, Bedazzled. And TV channels since then came to me and said can you please do a reality show, and I said I wasn't ready.
And I think now in terms of my career, my life, my space, my head – I’ve been through so many things. My life has been quite closed up; very private.
I've been engaging with people through my talks all over the country and what they said was "B, we just want a glimpse of how everything is done" and I thought, well, I am a bit confident in terms of the woman that I am, I'm ready to share my life. I think there's lots of very interesting things that are happening.
The timing is really good right now, and everything's been wonderful.
What kind of things will viewers see?
Viewers will see a different side of Bonang – a side you've never read about in the magazines, or in the TV shows. It's real, just me at home, you'll see my family, you'll see my relationship, you'll see my best friends.
The most important thing though is how the business behind brand Bonang is run and how things are ultimately done to get to a point where people at home see them.
And how did you decide what would be off limits? How did you decide where the boundaries would be or not?
(She laughs.) Well, ja. I'm a very private person and I was very nervous about showing my family, and of showing the inner workings of me and my life.
When you do a book or start a reality show, there's some things – whether you like it or not – that you just have to be open about with people. At the end of the day a TV show has to be entertaining, it has to be gripping, it has to be full of drama.
So there are all those elements in Being Bonang – there’s drama, there's arguments, there's disagreements, there are people being fired, there's fights with my friends, with my management. There's a bit of everything for everyone.
In the promo we saw tears. And in the SABC1 documentary a month or so back you were also very honest that you don't let people see when you get affected by something, but that sometimes it does get to you. Being in the public eye, how do you stay strong and smile when you don't feel like it?
I come from a very, very tight-knit family. My family huddle around me and I'm also really very spiritual - I go to church a lot, and I really do pray a lot and that's where I get my strength.
And also my personality and the things I've been taught growing up – not being combative, not attending every argument you're being inviting to. I'm just a thick-skinned person.
The 13 years that I've been in this industry, you kind of teach yourself certain things as well – how to deal with media, how to deal with colleagues, how to deal with work, how to deal with a busy schedule - all sorts of things.
I unpack it very well in my book, Bonang: From A to B, but also in Being Bonang we show you how I go about in terms of dealing with maybe not so nice situations – whether it's family, friends, or even work.
With all of your projects and things you're simultaneously busy with, how do you maintain your diary and do you decide when to rest and what to say yes and no to?
I'm very strategic. I have a team of 4 people who work on brand Bonang, everyone split into different things, whether it’s Courvoisier, or Revlon or my emojis and my app, or my TV show.
I have five people at the office who are concentrated on one thing – sort of like an account executive. And what happens is that my time is managed very, very well and everything is planned and timed and scheduled very well.
So everything that's happening now, is a strategic plan that's been in effect since the middle of 2016.
So what people are seeing now, isn't necessarily things that just came up out of the blue. The book has been written for over 18 months, the app has been planned for four and a half months, the emojis have been designed for 6 and a half months.
So the fact that it's all coming out in July was the plan for July and August of 2017, but it's been years and years in the making and I'm really grateful for my team.
Yes, I relax. I take lots of holidays, because I understand that if my heart and my head and my soul and my spirit isn't happy, then I'm not able to do my job.
I'm an artist at the end of the day; I rely solely on how I feel about myself. So when I do feel a bit tired, like I did just after the KFC Taste Kitchen production on Mzansi Magic, I hopped on a plane, went away for two nights and came back refreshed.
People see you on television, and then – I think it's a natural thing – now they also aspire to be like you, then also want to be on television. Is it about being on TV, what advice do you have for people, what should they aspire to?
You know, getting on television has changed.
When I say changed, I mean the process. Usually you get an agent, get an audition, land a show. What''s happened now is we live in a digital era.
So whether you want to start a music career – start a YouTube channel and put your music on there. You're a TV presenter – start your own online visual blog. Modeling agencies – they’re now looking for people on the internet. So that has absolutely changed.
So what I want to say to people, is you make your own decisions. You need to start your career on your own – your success is your own responsibility. And luckily nowadays there are so many avenues to go about it, but the essence hasn't changed.
Give yourself time, work really, really hard, and work on your ultimate goal, and the rest will be easy to figure out. Work hard, stay focused and give yourself time. It takes about four or five years to create an "overnight success".
You just had a big birthday, what are you aspiring to for yourself for the next 3 decades ahead?
Haaaa. Three decades. I'm definitely going to write a second book, I want my book tour to do well.
I want my app and my emojis to explode and become an amazing thing on their own. In September I have a makeup range coming out, Bonang Favourites together with Revlon. They've put together, all my favourites like nail enamel and lip colours that's my own collection.
The next three decades I'm going to really, really put my heart and soul into Bonang Matheba Entertainment which is my production company, and lean more into production, and not so much to being on TV.
I want to start telling other people's stories. After I've told my own, I want to see how people react to it and hopefully those people will give me a bit of confidence in telling their stories on television.
The first episode of the 11 episode Being Bonang is scene setting for the rest of the series. It's really, really very funny. People are going to see I'm actually quite laid-back, I'm quite hilarious. I'm just the girl next door who happens to have a really awesome job.
Being Bonang starts on Friday 14 July on Vuzu Amp (DStv 103) at 19:30.