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10 Powerful Women in SA Entertainment

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

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It’s Women’s Month and that can only mean one thing; it’s time to celebrate women from all walks of life who kick ass! Quench SA is shining the spotlight on women who inspire us to step up to the best expressions of ourselves.

While this list is in no way exhaustive of the amazing women who are kicking down doors and paving the way for future generations, these are some 10 South African women in entertainment who are in their bags.

CASTER SEMENYA 

Caster Semenya 2020

Photo Credit: Caster Semenya/Instagram

Caster Semenya embodies excellence in ways that are disruptive, transformative, inspiring, and for many who are seen as pariahs by the world, also healing.

There was a time when the ill-treatment she suffered at the hands of sporting bodies, who wanted to cool her blaze by interrogating the legitimacy of her womanhood, appeared to be nothing more than a hostile injustice.

But through her display of courage and authenticity, the Olympian has taught us that the battles she’s faced in a world so obsessed with heteronormative gender binaries mean much more.

Because the hand of God that raised her up to be one of the biggest athletes on the planet remained with her, her career has shown us two things: 1) Dragons exist and 2) They can be beaten.

BONANG MATHEBA 

She’s not known as the Queen B for no reason. When she’s about to sting, you stand back.

With more than 15 years in the South African entertainment industry, where she’s built a formidable portfolio across mediums that span broadcast television and radio, Bonang has become one of the land’s most admired celebrities.

The 32-year-old Mafikeng native has put in the work to build a gargantuan brand that has helped her to cross over to retail through her successful lingerie line with a leading retailer, her own brand of bubbly, a high rating reality TV series focused solely on her life, a bestselling book as well as a subscription app which her devoted fans use to satiate themselves with all things Queen B.

2019 marked one of the best years in Bonang’s career. She appeared on the famed Breakfast Club, where she distilled her rise to fame while displaying her mastery on the South African entertainment business. In the same year, she travelled the world and then parlayed that footage into a two-part docuseries, currently airing on SABC 1.

Watch and learn. 

ZOZI TUNZI

Earlier this year, Zozi Tunzi sparked a frenzy when she returned home to South Africa for the first time since being famously crowned Miss Universe in 2019. The 26-year-old proved triumphant in when she sauntered her way from the Miss SA crown, on her third attempt, to the Miss Universe crown.

And while pageants themselves remain a hotly contested topic in many circles, Tunzi garnered the applaud of women around the world, including Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama, when she used the Miss Universe platform to deliver one of the most inspiring messages to the world.

“I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It is something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a long time”, Cosmopolitan Magazine recalls her saying.

“Not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labelled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity. That is what we should be teaching these young girls. To take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.”

“Take up space. Cement yourself.”

THUSO MBEDU

Thuso speaks onstage during the Young Creatives Awards Ceremony on November 16, 2018 in New York City.

She keeps a relatively low profile, shunning splashy displays of her celebrity online and trading all that attention for more time to focus on her craft, and it’s paid off!

Thuso Mbedu first rose up to the global radar when in September 2017, she scored an Emmy nomination for her moving portrayal of ‘Winnie’ on Mzansi Magic’s critically lauded drama, Is’thunzi.

Since then the 29-year-old, who hails from Pietermaritzburg in Kwa Zulu Natal, has shown us she’s been bitten by the Hollywood bug.

Having recently made the cut on VOGUE UK’s list of the most exciting new actors, Mbedu is currently filming The Underground Railroad, an upcoming American television on which she was famously cast as the leading lady.

MAKHADZI

A riot just about erupted when Makhadzi’s name didn’t appear on the nominee’s list for the 26th annual South African Music Awards.

Her blockbuster hit Matorokisi was one of the biggest street anthems of 2019 and helped the singer to ‘cross over’ and gain favour not only in every corner of South Africa, but across the continent.

Alongside Master KG, King Monada and Sho Madjozi, Makhadzi is regarded as part of the new wave of artists who have put Limpopo at the centre of the South African entertainment scene.

Her stage presence is so enchanting that the YouTube views for her performance on music show Massive Music have surpassed the 2 million mark, while her high energetic delivery at the DStv Viewers’ Choice Awards stole the entire show.

While her meteoric rise to the top of the charts in 2019 marks her well deserved big break, Makhadzi has been pushing her graft since 2012. She now boasts an impressive catalogue spanning six albums, proving that no one can stop one who is determined to test their limits.

Stay true to yourself and be you. No one can be youer than you. 

SHO MADJOZI 

Sho Madjozi Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award

Photo Credit: Getty Images for BET

We recently asked Sho how she always steps up to the ever-rising expectations that attend to her growing global fame during a media session for her Tik Tok collaboration, and she said discipline and commitment to delivering the best show in her performances is the secret that by now, shouldn’t be a secret.

You put in the hours in order to pull off a killer stage set.

It’s the rehearsals, the voice control, the lighting, the synergistic collaboration with the people responsible for the technical bits, the costumes, research and so much more. By the time we get to see Sho Madjozi stun crowds with her authentic Xitsonga flavour, sound and aesthetic with an urban twist, she has sweated bucketloads.

Her work ethic lies behind her rise to the world. She’s won a BET award, a Nickelodeon Award, enjoyed a viral hit and got the nod from John Cena, and amongst other things appeared on the Ellen Show.

Prepare. Never miss a beat. 

PEARL THUSI 

Queen Sono

While she’s regarded as one of South Africa’s most loved celebrities, Pearl Thusi has managed to do something only a handful of actresses around the world have done – to score multiple roles on leading international shows.

She has also led a couple of acclaimed movies and now, becomes the first African actress to lead Netflix’s first African original production.

The 32-year-old Durbanite transitioned from TV presenting to acting full time.

In 2016, she showcased her thespian chops as Dayana Mampasi’ on popular American thriller drama series Quantico. Since 2015, she’s appeared on movies Tremors 5: Bloodlines, Einfach Rosa: Wolken über Kapstadt, Catching Feelings, Kalushi and The Scorpion King: Book of Souls. 

In 2020, Thusi is most notably the talk of the town for her lead role on Netflix’s Queen Sono, which has been renewed for a second season.

NOMZAMO MBATHA

Mbatha has risen to the highest league of acclaimed actresses in the world, and she did all of that while also scoring herself various endorsement deals with leading global brands in sportswear, beauty cosmetics, and French champagne.

While fans mourned the departure of her character on Mzansi telenovela Isibaya, they could at least look forward to watching Mbatha at the cinema when Coming 2 America premieres. Besides, you can’t keep the girl confined within a limited space when she’s displayed the potential to become one of the most recognizable names around the world.

In 2019, Nomzamo Mbatha was unveiled as part of the cast for Coming 2 America, in which she stars alongside Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones and amongst others Kiki Layne. The movie

Aside from doing the absolute most as an actor, Nomzamo is also noted for her activism and philanthropy. She’s a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and was actively involved with the Global Citizen social awareness drive.

CONNIE FERGUSON 

Photo Credit: Connie Ferguson/Instagram

You’d regard this list to be nonsensical if it didn’t feature Connie Ferguson. You’d be right.

She’s at the top of the South African film and television production industry, where she’s built one of the best performing production companies and delivered an impressive list of the highest-rated drama series and telenovelas through the years.

Connie, who initially became a household name over her time-hallowed portrayal of Karabo Moroka on SABC 1 soapie Generations, used her experience and talent to cultivate an elevated business instinct to establishing Ferguson Films with her husband Shona Ferguson.

They’ve since given us Rockville, iGazi, The Gift, The Throne, The Herd, The Queen, The River and The Imposter. Besides picking up tens of prestigious awards, these titles have topped the list of the highest-rated shows on DStv

DJ ZINHLE 

DJ Zinhle

Photo Credit: DJ Zinhle/Instagram

After taking somewhat of a breather from producing new music, DJ Zinhle made a triumphant return to the charts with Umlilo in 2019.

The song became one of best selling singles of the year, proving that the multi-hyphenate record producer, DJ, and businesswoman still has what it takes to deliver smashes and fill dancefloors.

Having first gotten her big break as lady spinning then vinyl on SABC 1 dance show Jika Majika in 2004, the trajectory of Ntombezinhle Jiyane’s career has been inspiring to witness. In between the hits, DJ Zinle managed to become one of the biggest celebrities in the continent and boasts some of the biggest social media following in Africa.

Zinhle, who owns her own line of watches, has been named as one of 21 Most powerful African women by Oprah Magazine and Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year. In March 2020, she won the Forbes Woman Africa Entertainer award.

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Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed

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We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.

When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.

A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.

The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.

This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.

Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.

Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.

After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.

Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.

In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.

After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.

Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.

THE ENDING

Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.

Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.

In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?

Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.

We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.

What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.

We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.

Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.

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First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’

DRACARYS!

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Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.

The House of Dragon

Photo Credit: HBO via Twitter

First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe,  the world ready to let old baggage go.

The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.

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Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it

‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.

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The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.

While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.

Midnight Mass

“The LORD’s angel”‘s life giving blood comes scams locals into horrible mistakes on Midnight Mass.

When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.

With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.

It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.

We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.

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