Johannesburg – You’ve seen him on social media before – arms folded and wearing a grin while seated behind one of his famous clients at his dental practice. He has serviced the smiles of Boity, Minnie Dlamini, Maps Maponyani, and many more. And besides making sure our local stars' pearly whites stay… well… pearly white, he also tends to leave some of his patients with a little more sparkle than they arrived with, through his custom-made grillz.
Taking a look at his Instagram account, you can’t miss the fact that Alexander Rawhani is more than just his medical degree. No, this social media star has about as many different talents as he does nicknames. Seriously, I went back and forth in my mind, contemplating which name to use when we first met – we eventually setteled on “Lex”.
It was about 09:20 when we showed up to his house on that somewhat chilly Sunday morning. The plan was to follow him around for a little while to get an inside look at his life after-hours. Not knowing what to expect, we waited patiently to meet the guy fondly known as Dr Smile.
After saying our hellos we hopped in his car, taking the 20 minute drive from his place to Soweto where he runs one of 14 different youth groups. A follower of the Bahai faith, Lex explains that his classes are there to help spiritually develop the kids he teaches from the different communities around Johannesburg.
His desire to give back was instilled in him as a child by his parents. Even before he knew he wanted to be a dentist, Lex knew that his career path would be something that led him to the service of humanity. “I had so many different interests [as a teenager], and the problem is when you’re in high school and you’re trying to figure this out it’s all like, well, what am I going to be when I’m older? And that’s what I didn’t know. The only thing I did know is the foundation that my parents set for me and my siblings, in terms of being Bahai, is that you have to do something that serves humanity.”
He’s a natural with the children at his morning class in Diepkloof, and their love for him is obvious. Reflecting on what he was like as a child, Lex says he has no regrets, but does question a lot of the spaces he was in. “For example now, I do my best not to fit in.
I literally don’t like fitting in. I look back and I laugh at some of the instances in which I was not confident in being different,” he says, smiling as he tells us about one occasion in which he faked having a liver problem when offered alcohol as a teen, too embarrassed to say that he does not drink because of his faith.
WATCH: Dr Smile chats to us about one of 14 youth groups he runs in Johannesburg:
After meeting up with a few of his students, we take the drive back to his place, and on our way there we are privy to some of the music he has been working on – yes, he’s a musican as well. “The music needs to release this year,” he tells us when I ask about his plans. “The music has been a long time coming. I’m very excited for everyone to experience LexLeo, and the diversity of the music which I plan to deliver. So that should happen, God willing, by the end of 2017.”
Wandering around his room, we’re able to get a sense of every aspect of his life. His love of music is displayed by the large number of guitars which line the walls, and his knack for designing jewelry, proudly portrayed on a desk beside his bed. The remnants of a used-to-be skater boy can be found next to a bookcase that houses, among other things, a collection of vinyls which he still listens to. I couldn’t resist but ask to hear one when we spot the record player, and before I know it, we’re jamming along to the Grease soundtrack.
Music is just one of the many dreams Lex still hopes to fulfill. The star also let’s us in on a new reality show he plans on doing alongside another celeb doctor. “We’re in the running to start a reality show – myself and a very good friend Dr Mia who is cosmetic aesthetic doctor. And we want to work together to do, essentially, an Extreme Makeover for South Africa.” Lex says the show will focus on helping people who have been injured/scarred in domestic violence cases, accidents, and so on.
WATCH: Dr Smile chats about his celeb clients and starting his own reality show:
Oh, and did we forget to mention that he also dabbles in clothing design? He speaks about the clothing line he runs alongside his partner, Raphael: “The Raphael Mukendi brand, which is our bespoke custom suits for men and women, we really wanna grow to a new level. It’s really doing well, you know, if it could just get bigger.”
Before we wrap up, he talks to us about his plans for the future. “I want to, probably in the next 10 years, have changed professions. I want to become an industrial designer. I have a lot of design ideas that I want to bring to fruition. Hopefully have lots of babies after I get married because I love kids. I think that’s the plan for now.”