From Soweto to Russia with love: iLIVE
Thabang Motsei was born in Soweto in 1981, with her childhood split between Soweto and Mmabatho in the North West. She lost her mother at age of 12, and this is when she realised that she had to grow up and learn to take care of herself.
Despite being a bit of a rebel Motsei always enjoyed the support of her family something which she still relies on today thanks to a television career that has taken her all the way to Europe.
From the beginning Motsei says she knew that she belonged somewhere where she could express herself openly. She started her career at the National School of Arts in Johannesburg where she majored in Drama.
She was awarded a two-year scholarship by the (NFVF) National Film & Video Foundation after high school to study at Africa's school of film and dramatic arts – AFDA- where she completed a degree in cinematography and producing.
For a while Motsei freelanced in the local film and television industry, working as a camera assistant before she was given an opportunity to direct and shoot a pilot for SABC1 under the guidance of the Soul City producers. She then started assisting in directing music videos and television productions, after which she landed a director's job with Top Billing. Her work on Top Billing saw her directing, presenting and researching prominent South Africans.
In 2005 she was awarded a full Chevening Scholarship from the British government to study towards her Masters of Arts (MA). She majored in International Journalism at the University of Westminster.
After her studies she was snapped up by Africa’s first bilingual (English/French) Pan African TV Channel, Voxafrica, which broadcasts on the SKY digital channel.
At Voxafrica she went on to create and produce a well-received woman’s magazine show called “Cosmopolitan: What Women Talk About”. It ran for two successful seasons. She was also the Senior English Anchor and Journalist covering important events such as the G20 Summit to the riots in London.
Motsei has now been living and working in London for the last five years and loves it.
“I always pray for happiness patience and love. In every decision I’ve ever taken in my life I’ve always thought about how it makes me feel and if there’s doubt, I don’t pursue it. I’m guided by what I call a spiritual conscious or what people call the sixth sense.”
Motsei is planning to use her skills to develop her own branding and communication business in the future.
One may wonder how a South African copes living so far away from home and from family.
“The hardest part about being away from South Africa is that my family and friends are not with me. Being away from home also carries a lot of guilt. Your family and friends only see a certain part of your life and they may not understand when you’re facing challenging moments,” she says.
Motsei’s career has had many highlights including landing the only exclusive interview with Steve Irwin for Top Billing South Africa, and going shark diving and swimming with the seals with him but this year has been a challenging one.
“The changes were sometimes unbearable from being a producer and host of well received shows to struggling to find work in a recession stricken Europe. Struggling for work as a foreigner in a country battling with its own internal politics is not for the faint hearted. I take solitude in knowing that I still have a fighting spirit in me, even when things seemed bleak. I always believed they will get better. And they did.”
Perhaps the most challenging and the most rewarding time of her life is still to come as she prepares to move to Moscow. She has accepted a job as an international correspondent and news presenter for RT (Russia Today), a 24-hour global multilingual television news network based in the Russian capital.
“This is such a surreal opportunity for me that, I haven’t quite yet made sense of it all. I believe great things will follow. I’m not blinded by the challenges I will face in terms of racial integration and my role as a woman in a very male dominated society. All of this will add to my understanding and I hope to prove many a people wrong. Certain things happen in our lives for reasons and this new chapter of my life will undoubtedly be pivotal to my career and to me as a person. Always growing, always learning and always willing to go where most fear.”
She gives advice to young people that they all have one life to live and they have to make the most of it.
“Be strategic with your goals, network. Find mentors; be kind to yourself because you’ll need to be when the doors shut in your face. Be patient, everything happens in alignment.”
To read more about Thabang go to www.motsei.com
· Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part is a social movement to get all South Africans to actively think about and begin doing something positive; and to recognise and celebrate those who are already doing something; big or small. It is aimed at all South Africans, including civil society, government, corporate and non-governmental organisations, etc. It has been created by Brand South Africa to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship. All South Africans have access to resources that can contribute to a better future for all including time, money, skills or goods.
For more info, visit www.playyourpart.co.za