Relebogile ‘Lebo’ Mabotja is a woman of many talents. She acts, composes, presents across platforms, produces, directs and shares her knowledge on a YouTube series. For the past 12 years Mabotja has been a firm fixture in the South African entertainment scene, and from the sounds of things, that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
By Remy Raitt
Through her company Lebotja Media, Mabotja has, and continues to, compose the theme music and musically direct a host of South African and African TV shows. She has won a SAMA, a South African Film and Television Award and been nominated for a Naledi Theatre Award for her work across the industry.
Media Update managed to track down this very busy lady for a chat.
You are obviously a very creative person, has music and drama always been a part of your life?
Since I can remember I’ve been performing for my parents and family. I was performing when I was a toddler, with tantrums I’m told, and have performing on stage since the age of five. I don’t remember life without it.
Which industry did you enter first; entertainment or media?
I’d have to say entertainment because I started on stage professionally with Fame-The Musical and the media side followed.
How did you get into acting and TV?
From my first production, an agent discovered me and sent me to auditions. Home Affairs was my first ever televsion acting role.
And why the move behind the scenes?
I have always been quietly behind the scenes. Before presenting for CrazE I was the production assistant in 2004. During my entire career of being a front of camera personality I continued to work my way up behind the scenes in television and music so the ‘shift’ was a natural progression.
How did you get into the music industry?
I have been singing for years and working with different bands and musicians for corporate gigs. I didn’t make the shift into being a recording solo act but found an opportunity in musical directing and making music for television two years ago and jumped at it through Afro Café.
What does it take to be successful in this industry?
Passion. Persistence. Practice. Professionalism. For me personally, personality!
What, in your opinion, does South Africa have to offer the world in terms of music, entertainment and creativity?
We have unique sounds and instruments we are yet to explore. I got to play around and experience a diffierent side of music when I took on The Sing Off and instruments were taken off the table. We were forced to experiment with as many sounds as possible, indigenous and new and the whole experience made me realise that we really have a lot to offer to the world and ourselves. I see new genres evolving and changing the game beyond what we see in our pop culture.
When and why did you open Lebotja Media?
Lebotja Media is a space I wanted to create where I work for myself and own my work and brand. I have worked for many people for many years and continue to do so, but I wanted a place where all my passions can find life without depending too much on others and where properties can be owned with fewer rules. Yes, it is a business too, so passion at some point must be become turn over and profits. This side of myself is new and exciting.
How do you juggle all the work you do across media platforms?
I truly work with the most understanding and supportive teams, bosses and clients. In all spaces my work is supported. I could never deliver a weekly music show like Afro Café without a strong production team, or musically direct The Sing Off without a competent vocal coaches or host a radio talk show without an amazing producer. My work really is representative of the teams working with me. All of this, and very little sleep!
Why did you start your YouTube series #RMIndustryTips? What has the response been like?
I started the series just over a month ago and the response has been great. I really wanted to just find a different, fun, interactive and easy way to share the knowledge I have and continue to gain through my various industry friends, peers, colleagues and mentors. The tips will be relevant forever, I believe and they are what many need to hear.
What are your top tips for those starting out?
- Knowledge and education – get informed on what it is you want to do. Ask questions and go to school!
- Plan – everything you do must be well thought out. Many things happen by chance but nothing lasts without a solid plan.
- Deliver – When you get a chance to show people what you are made of, be great and be you! That’s what people will come back for.
For more information, connect with her on Twitter.