Gail Mabalane talks motherhood, empowering the youth and finding her purpose.

Gail made her television debut seven years ago as Lelo Sidibe on M-Net’s The Wild and has since become a TV darling, thanks to collaborations with acclaimed local giants such as Connie and Shona Ferguson.

As we arrive for our shoot at the majestic Le Chatelat boutique guest house in Sandton, Johannesburg, Gail is sitting quietly with a cup of coffee getting her make-up done. Dressed in a comfortable grey tracksuit, her petite frame bears no hint of a recent pregnancy although she gave birth to her second child in February.

Originally from Kimberley in the Northern Cape, Gail moved to Johannesburg in 2010 after entering season 6 of Idols SA. After making it all the way to the top 10, doors started opening for the multitalented beauty. While on the talent show she made connections that later secured her an audition for The Wild.

‘I had no acting experience but I got the role,’ she recalls. ‘The Wild was very intimidating but I was fortunate and privileged enough to be surrounded by supportive cast members.’ She has since worked on numerous hugely successful shows such as The Road, Generations: The Legacy and Rockville.

The 33-year-old mother of two recalls how her mother Julie, who was a nurse, used to enter her into beauty pageants. ‘I guess she saw something in me and also wanted to make sure that my two siblings and I didn’t have too much time on our hands,’ she chuckles. Gail’s love for entertaining grew from her early experiences at these pageants.

The entertainment industry is not her only passion, however – she is also dedicated to her family. Just when she was about to pursue a singing career, tragedy struck the Nkoane household.

‘I lost both my mom and older brother Craig in 2006,’ she says. Gail was just 21 at the time, and her selflessness was apparent as she put her dreams on hold and remained in Kimberley to be with her father, Venus, while her younger sister Denese studied in Johannesburg. Four years later, the opportunity to enter Idols SA came her way and Gail relocated to the City of Gold. She never looked back.

Although she is known for her striking good looks and confidence, Gail says this was not always the case. ‘I have spent a lot of time learning to deal with my insecurities,’ she admits. ‘I was a small-town girl. I constantly asked myself if I was good enough; whether I have what it takes.’ But maturity and experience proved to be her greatest teachers.

‘With age, you become secure in who you are. I now know that I don't need to fit in,' she smiles. ‘I draw my strength from my relationship with God.' It is the same wisdom she practiced when a role was withdrawn because she was five months pregnant with her second child. ‘It's not fair because men are not treated that way.' She holds no grudges, however, and believes the opportunity wasn't meant for her.

Gail has a genuine desire to help uplift young girls. ‘I try to dedicate as much time as I can to upliftment,’ she says. ‘It is something I am very passionate about.’ For years she worked with Uitkoms Home for Girls, a shelter for destitute young girls in Yeoville, Gauteng. ‘I learn so much about myself and life from them,’ she smiles. ‘It gives me perspective as I connect with people who are facing bigger challenges in life.’

In 2013 Gail married legendary musician Kabelo Mabalane, and the couple has two young children, Zoe (5) and Khumo (7 months). They hope to instil humanity and humility in their children. ‘In their quest to be more,’ says Gail, ‘we want them not to forget people and building relationships. People don’t remember what you acquired, but how you made them feel.’

Gail says her motherhood journey thus far has been exciting. ‘It’s hard work but I am grateful for my support system,’ she smiles, adding that the biggest parenting lesson was learning to ask for help.

‘We think we should do everything ourselves, but it is okay to ask for help and have a good support structure,’ she says. ‘Taking care of yourself is the secret to being a good mother, wife, and person.'

Her advice to other parents is to find a system that suits their individual needs. ‘What works for someone else might not work for you,’ she says. It is her sensible attitude to parenting that has led to a new collaboration with nappy brand Huggies.

So how do Gail and Kabelo, who are known to be extremely private, maintain their connection as a couple with two young children? ‘We go out to a movie, lunch or a play once a week,’ says Gail. ‘We also do a day date while our daughter is still at school. We don’t always get it right,’ she laughs, ‘but we are committed to it.’

  • I love my mother’s chicken curry!
  • I admire and respect Beyoncé Knowles.
  • My favourite holiday destination is home in Kimberley.
  • The book In Pursuit of Purpose by Myles Munroe changed my life and is one of my favourites.
  • My go-to outfit is jeans paired with sneakers and a simple T-shirt.
Text Koketso Mashika

Keep up with Gail on Social Media
Instagram: @ gail_mabalane
Twitter: @ GailMabalane

GAIL MABALANE: THE ROAD TO SUCCESS GAIL MABALANE: THE ROAD TO SUCCESS Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on September 03, 2018 Rating: 5
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