It’s a pleasant surprise that an interview request with one of South Africa’s hottest upcoming TV and radio stars results in a face-to-face interview within an hour.
“I was in the area when you called, so I thought I might as well see you now because my schedule can be unpredictable,” says Thabethe after we sit down at an Italian restaurant in Rosebank, Johannesburg.
She looks photoshoot-ready rather than someone who’s been taken by surprise.
It’s anybody’s guess how she keeps it together, given that she is a YFM DJ with a three-hour weekend music programme, co-presents Club 808 and is shooting the second season of SABC1’s My Perfect Family, in which she plays a lead role.
“I’m not surprised at the opportunities that have come my way because I have gone to auditions for most of my life; I never gave up and I will keep striving for more.”
From an outsider’s perspective, it might appear as if Thabethe (23) has had a sudden surge to the top of the entertainment ladder.
But she says this is the culmination of eight years of juggling university studies, radio and TV work and a busy social life.
Born and raised in the south of Jozi, she attended Mondeor High School.
“I was that tjatjarag girl who just did all available extramural activities – water polo, badminton, debating and public speaking. And of course I was a prefect.”
This effervescent young woman has a BCom accounting degree from the University of Johannesburg – so why in the world would she put her hard-earned degree to the side to pursue a career in entertainment?
“Believe it or not, I actually have a genuine love for accounting. TV and radio work is often seen as unstable compared to corporate jobs, which are perceived to be more lucrative.
” I don’t worry too much; I believe my passion will reap the same financial success.”
She steers the conversation back to her journey into the entertainment industry, attributing her success to a “strong competitive streak”.
When asked about celebrities she sees as her competition, Thabethe quickly points out that she is not interested in being compared to Egoliwood’s young shining stars such as Bonang Matheba and Minnie Dlamini.
“I’m happy to see them flourish because that makes me realise how far I can reach to achieve all my dreams.
“The only thing I worry about is the hate that comes with celebrity status,” she says.
Thabethe admits that she is careful not to get carried away by the thrills of the entertainment industry, because people can get “too familiar and curious” about someone’s personal life.
Speaking of that personal life, she insists that she doesn’t get approached by guys often because they are intimidated by her “bold, go-getter attitude”.
“But that doesn’t bother me because I’ve been happily involved for the past six months with a man outside of this crazy industry.
“There is already too much temptation out there for guys; having to fight off groupies is something I’m not willing to do.”
Being one of the few female daytime radio DJs, Thabethe wants to open doors for more women to break into popular radio.
“It’s sad that the radio industry is still so male-dominated, even in areas of management.
“Women need to be taken more seriously. It’s time that we make an effort to focus a little less on the light stuff and get involved in discussions about women empowerment and our general political landscape.”
With this glimpse of feistiness, it becomes clear that there is still more to come from this ambitious go-getter.