LAUGH OUT LOUD WITH LESEGO TLHABI


You might have seen one of her YouTube videos, a TV interview or recently in the TakeAlot advert on TV. She is the bubbly Lesego Tlhabi and she chats to us about who she really is and her new book, ‘Coconut Kelz’s Guide to Surviving this Shithole’!


She studied extensively overseas and completed a BA (Honours) in Theatre at Brunel University in London. She is currently a content producer and scriptwriter for a variety of TV shows including All Access Mzansi and V-entertainment. Lesego is the comedian behind the hilarious satirical character known as Coconut Kelz. With a huge social media following, we’ve come to know the character Coconut Kelz as being deliberately controversial in her sketches with cringe-worthy opinions and views on society and South Africa.

WHO’S THE REAL LESEGO?
I write things and I perform sometimes. I’m a satirist and writer so I do a lot of things, all the time, in the creative space. I love things that make me laugh and make me think, so I made that into a career.

COCONUT KELZ HAS TAKEN OFF, TELL US HOW SHE CAME ABOUT?
Coconut Kelz was a reaction to the Pretoria Girls High ‘hair incident’. I channeled my outrage and irritation at the apathy of some people to issues surrounding black women and children and turned it around on them. Turns out it was a winning recipe.



HOW HAS THE KELZ PERSONA HELPED TO GET YOUR MESSAGE AND OPINIONS ACROSS?
People are more likely to listen and really engage when they are first disarmed. No point yelling at brick walls. It's important to remember that everyone has an opinion informed by how they were raised and factors like race, gender, sexuality, and no one opinion is the ultimate, so coming with the understanding that it’s one perspective makes room for conversation rather than argument.

At first, people didn't understand the satire (many still don't), I was encouraged by those who do get it and love it to continue. So that’s what I did. Slowly but surely people are getting it. Some don’t like it and that’s ok too, I’m not doing it for them.

YOU’VE STUDIED AT SOME OF THE BEST INSTITUTIONS OVERSEAS, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A SOLID EDUCATION?
This is going to sound controversial but the experiences and people did more for me than the education itself. I actually don’t think a degree is worth a damn in this field. All my qualifications meant very little when I was applying for jobs. However, the wealth of knowledge I got from meeting different kinds of people from all over the world and seeing how passionate people are for the arts is what I treasure. The privilege of living outside South Africa has been the difference in my desire to succeed and forge my path here. Working trained me much more than school. And I think more technical schools work better for this industry. Hands-on training.

WITH SO MANY HATS TO WEAR, HOW DO YOU BALANCE IT ALL OUT?
I don't have a regular day job anymore so that's how I balance out the other things. I am a freelancer in the writing space so I still do projects and write scripts. I have space for more and I am pursuing a radio gig from 2020 onwards.



PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK?
It’s a crazy, funny, thought-provoking look at South African people and habits along the racial and class lines.

WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED EVERY DAY?
I don’t have a daily mantra but what keeps me motivated is seeing my dreams come true. Dreams I’ve held for over 25 years. Doing what you love is a privilege not many people have experienced. The motivation is to always do what I love.

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?
I hang out and explore Joburg with my friends or family. I go out to markets, I enjoy days out in the sun with a drink in my hand, and an amazing soundtrack is perfect. Also, I enjoy a good comedy night.

WHO INSPIRES YOU?
It’s probably cliché but my parents. They worked hard to give me an amazing life, they are the nicest people I know and genuinely everyone who knows them, loves them. My stepdad and stepmom included. I also look up to my younger sister, Ofentse. No one works harder than her. She got her CFA 3 in one try and she still has a bomb social life. She inspires me.


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WANTING TO START THEIR CAREER IN THE INDUSTRY?
Make social media work for you! Videos are the best way I know to get noticed by the audience and the brands. You just need your smartphone and a great idea to stand out from the rest. The industry is forced open by social media.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
I love that it makes people laugh and that it makes them happy. I also love that I am part of social awareness conversations and that I inspire positive change in people.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR LESEGO? AND WHERE WILL WE BE SEEING KELZ AGAIN?
I’m going to keep manifesting it, radio is next on my horizon. I’m also working behind-the-scenes writing on some projects. And Kelz is hitting the year-end circuit hard LOL!

LAUGH OUT LOUD WITH LESEGO TLHABI LAUGH OUT LOUD WITH LESEGO TLHABI Reviewed by Jet Club on September 11, 2019 Rating: 5

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