Writer: Teboho Thuswa
I’m a Motivated Speaker and not a Motivational Speaker because challenges I went through motivated me to do great and be the better person. I’m an Actor (plays Moshe on Mzansi Magic’s Ya Lla), Strategist, Life Coach, Child of God, Entertaining MC and CEO of Fishmonger Creations and Teboho Thuswa Speaks (Motivational Consulting). I also call myself The Kasi Preacher because I grew and studied in the township. I was born and raised in Bohlokong, Bethlehem in the Free State and matriculated at Tiisetsang High School, I am 22 years old and graduated in Performing Arts at The Market Theatre Laboratory in 2014. I’m a very funny person who likes to play around ideas. I just talk, I can spend the whole day talking but what is nice about me is that I talk sense and you can learn a lot of me. I usually say my life is a book sent by God, it is up to you to read it. I am well known for my motivational talks on Mondays with Dr. Chomane on Hareye Morning Drive Show on Lesedi FM and the Inspirational Open Letter I wrote to Cassper Nyovest that has more than 200 000 views across the globe.
Growing up for me was very tough, from when I was 16 years old, I started hosting big events as an MC where I would interact with a lot of celebrities and that led me to fame at a young age as more people knew me in my hometown. Before local fame though, I was doing very well in school receiving distinctions and always appearing in the top 10 and was most respected learner in mathematics since I could write a memorandum in a test. I was always vibrant in class and most liked by teachers because of my solid delivery in school work. During my Matric year, I became the RCL President due to the leadership abilities and capacities I possessed. After some time of getting whatever I wanted easily since I was always praised and told that I’m a star, I thought life is all about money, fame and girls; I now focused more on alcohol and being the main man at that time. My results dropped very badly, I was now getting 5/20 in subjects where I got 20/20. I almost failed my Grade 12 at the end of the year and some people I used to tutor after school all managed to be at Universities now.
At some point in matric, I had my own office and so because I was the ‘in thing’ oh so I thought, I slept with a girl in school in that office and it was unfortunately recorded on video without my attention, that video trended in my hometown; I was called names, humiliated, laughed at, made fun of and all the negatives you can think of, I was now notorious and silly like any other boy and so a lot of guys didn’t like me especially when it came to girls. They made sure that they expose me, people hated me but my true friends stayed with me. There was also a day when I spoke for the following’s RCL elections in the school hall and half of the school learners went out, it was really painful as it was happening, I just wanted to get off and run away but there were people who stayed behind to listen to me. We all have done horrible things we are not proud of but we can’t always allow fear to keep us in that past because we will never excel. After these experiences, I realised that I’ve got to really stand on my ground and own up to my best potential if I really want to be a better person in life going forward.
In 2012, moving to Johannesburg after high school life with only a dream in hand was more than difficult. My results didn’t qualify for the University entry at all and all I wanted was to be an Actor. My mom is unemployed and survives with selling Tupperware products and Perfumes so I had to stay with my maid relative at the backroom of white people’s house she worked for and had to hide every day for them not to see me while I was still trying to find my feet in the big city, I didn’t know anyone, I was now looking for a school and none was accepting me since it was already late. I went to Kgomotso Seboko, a top model trainer who ran a modelling agency; we had initially met while they had a Fashion Show in my hometown. I used to go to his office whilst trying to understand Jozi, one day I got to his office and just after he received an advert brief, they needed a Nigerian guy or someone who could pass-off as a Nigerian with a passport (which I didn’t have), he said “go to this audition, it’s yours” and I said No I told you guys I’m not yet ready to really get in the industry as yet but him and his then co-worker Khumo Motshome who so believed in me said just read the brief and show us how you will do it, after showcasing to them, they said please go.
I then went to Sandton for the very first time asking directions to Three Towers. This was my first audition mind you, as I got there were a lot of celebrities and I got scared while I began to undermine myself and there was this other guy who was saying no one ever wins it first time, he has been in the game for a while and knows how these things work. I auditioned and got called back to go to Beirut, Lebanon in Asia to work with Wizkid and Tiwa Savage on The Pepsi TV Commercial. Kgomotso then became my agent, I quickly ran to do a passport immediately after being short-listed. Passports usually took 2 weeks then but mine took a week and when it was issued I got an SMS that it’s ready for collection while I was in a Taxi to Milpark at Bree Taxi Rank, I quickly ran and something was saying to me just run faster, I ran to get it and I took it to Kgomotso who wanted to cry on the phone when he called me as I was almost at the door of his office saying “Teboho we are going to lose this deal because they are fighting now, they really want your passport for visa issues, they say we’ve been postponing too much”, before I dropped the phone I just opened the door with my passport up, we got so happy and celebrated and that is when I really understood that when something is yours, it truly is yours, no matter what.
After coming back from overseas where I spent eight days, I realised that now I must really take this further in order to nurture my talent. I then heard of The Market Theatre Laboratory and that it takes only 12 Students a year, so to be there you needed to be extremely good as they were holding auditions for entries. I applied and was called to come for an audition in October, I had prepared for this audition for about 2 months just to be accepted that’s how committed I was. Results were coming out in November and I never managed to sleep since I badly wanted to be there, I mean the school did well in the past by producing good quality actors and had good reputation by having top class professional tutors who are already in the industry. Warren Masemola and Lindiwe Ndlovu who both have SAFTAS to their names are the graduates so that was a big sign of greatness for me, I saw it happening. When the results came, I didn’t make it and so they always say when they reject you “we hereby regret to inform you that you did make it into the programme, sorry next time”. I cried badly after that and my brother Tshepo was comforting me saying all will be fine and I must go and maybe convince them, I was at Sasolburg at the time in driving school. The following Monday I went to Dan Robbertse (former education officer) and said, Sir what did I do wrong? I really want to be here and asked him to make a plan for me and he then said there were better candidates unfortunately but should someone pull out they’ll consider me first.
Come January I was just waiting for that one person to pull out (as sad as it sounds), I sent Mr Dan Robbertse an email early on the 3rd of January 2013 to say “Please don’t forget me Sir, I really want to be at The Lab’’. After about 10 days I got a call that I was accepted and needed to make a payment before end of February to continue. Now I’m happy and jumping as I had to go look for funds, I couldn’t go back to the backroom as I was hiding. I then wrote sponsorship letters to all potential funders in my hometown and none came through, my brothers stood up and suffered as they had to pay for my accommodation for the whole 2 years and fees in my first year before my municipality took over with the bursary for only school fees in my second year. As I got to the Market Lab the challenge was very tough, Acting was not as easy as I thought. It is like many people who watch it from distance and be like “I can do this, it’s simple”. It took me time to find myself and fit in. I mean I used to be an MC and now I had to learn how to be someone else and do justice to that person through me. On my very first theatre performance I was laughed and mocked at in school but that didn’t hold me back as I went back to the drawing board to look at my mistakes to better my craft. I was never the top actor, I would say my average was around 49% but I was always working hard to improve and in my second year Generations’ casting director Phophi Mulaudzi invited me and the other guy in class to come and audition after she saw us in a school production called ‘I Ophelia: Hamlet’s Adaptation directed by Dorothy Ann Gould’. That was a happy moment in my life and that’s when I started believing that there is something about me, the call brought back my confidence. In our class I was the first one to work as an usher at Market Theatre where I would interact with a lot of big actors for advices which was the main reason why I took that job and while at that Job, I met Moonyeenn Lee, one of the top agents in South Africa, many upcoming actors used to be so afraid of her saying she’s too strict and choosy but that never stopped me to approach and invite her to my performance where she came with her daughter, she liked me and accepted me into her agency MLA even though I never stayed for long due to other reasons. After things not going well, I approached another top agency Figjam where they were rejecting people too much but I got accepted by them.
My passion is to speak, act and write. Challenges and hardships I encountered play a huge role in motivating me to ensure that I also change people’s lives. When I write or speak, I always try to be as original as I can be in order to share a clear vision of what I see. I can write a story about you from the moment I see and have a conversation with you and I can also write a story just from seeing an animal or an insect, that’s what I am blessed more with by God. Again I read a lot of newspapers and books to support my content with other people’s opinions to make whatever I wrote powerful sometimes while also trying to run away from being compared to someone since I believe I am unique. I’m in the process of my first book NOBODY IS BIGGER THAN YOUR BUSINESS that speaks about how to go on with life and business and I have decided to cater more for youth because I can relate fully to what they are going through since I was born in 1993 and my aim with it is also to create better future frontrunners. For instance, back then there was no Mxit, Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media engagement and with that said; times have changed in many areas to be quite frank.
Teachers in high schools can’t control the kids any more since their working stick method (corporal punishment) was banned, they are clueless on solutions. Back in my high school days we never really listened to Motivational Speakers invited particularly because we didn’t relate hence I come in as a Motivated Speaker. Young people usually get more inspiration from their peers and that is when they see and believe it is possible and my story usually takes them out of the Department of Fear they are trapped in, I also used to see Cornet who plays T-bose on Skeem Saam back then and be like if he can do it then so can I and that’s how I drew inspiration from him. Today many young people have lost a connection with themselves and God, life has become about materialistic things and fear is what makes many people not to succeed or continue with what they had started. We never see the bigger future picture and that’s where my story and sayings act as the messenger of possibilities. We are stuck with YOLO (You Only Live One) without being aware that it is actually YODO (You Only Die Once) because every day you have the opportunity to change your life but once you are gone, you are gone for ever. As young people we must not only look at what media is feeding us. Positive attitude is also needed if we want to be better in what we do.
The journey has never been easy at all, there were hick-ups here and there but I have learnt to always remain positive for the better improvement of my life. Sometimes it is extremely hard to a point where you just want to quit, you don’t see any way forward and you just kick yourself every day when you wake up but those are the moments and days where I surrounded myself with people who can build me up and rejuvenate my spirit. People will laugh at you but they won’t laugh forever, they’ll eventually get tired. Ever since I graduated, it has not been smooth but the hustle always continues and life has to go on. At some point I was doing promotions work when I didn’t have nothing and I hated that kind of a job since most of the promotions companies exploit people after realising they are desperate and that made me to work more harder for me to get out of that situation to pursue my dream. Before I commenced I used to be told that in order to be a speaker you must have accomplished something so that you can share how you made and so I refused and said No! I strongly believe that you must start with what you have and where you are, everybody has a story to tell even the guy on the streets has a story to tell, you don’t need to be a millionaire to change the world and it’s not about money.
Most of the times we get stuck because of survival and allow people to discourage us on our dreams but I couldn’t take this anymore, and that’s when I thought of many of us who are blocked mentally after my post-graduation life experience. We live in a time where there are no jobs at all, life has become Charles Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, and we must come to a point whereby we create our own adventures and sources of income with our abilities, your passion must be able to put bread on your table.
I am also inspired by young people like Sandile Shezi who made sure they focus on their businesses, particularly their dreams because a dream is very important to one’s life; it needs to have a special bond with your heart. I am now focused more on only my speaking business and acting career, I even stopped searching for something to fall back on because it sounds negative, I mean it’s already a double negative statement “Fall” “Back”, the idea is that when you fall you must pick yourself up and not surrender to failure of falling on something, your plan A should be never to go to B. I focused on my dream and revisited my company and registered it in 2013. I started approaching radio stations, organisations, schools, companies, churches requesting to give motivational talks; some rejected me while others like Lesedi FM accepted me and gave an immense opportunity to be even mentored by the legendary Dr. Chomane Chomane who has massive experience in speaking.
In the acting side, I managed to secure a small role in the new drama that is currently playing in Mzansi Magic called Ya Lla produced by Quizzical Pictures that produces Umlilo and Rhythm City to name a few and the experience has been great as well since I worked with legendary Sam Phillips and Peter Mashigo who also played a key role in helping my craft in front of the Camera. So in radio my first time has been with Lesedi FM and in acting with Quizzical Pictures, I learnt the professional side of things from the best and also how to handle myself as a brand in order to stay in the game. The journey doesn’t end here still; I am still constructing other bigger things for a huge elevation in life because you never arrive in success journey. You must always remain hungry and never get comfortable.
In closing, to young people I want to say, don’t only remember God in the rough times but even in the good times when he blesses you, pray at all times and abide by his teachings. Romans 12: 6-9 says, “So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us. If our gift is to speak God’s message, we should do it according to the faith we have, if it is to serve, we should serve, if it is to teach, we should teach, if it is to encourage we should do so. Whosoever shares with others should do it generously; whoever has the authority should work hard; whoever shows kindness to others should do it cheerfully.’
I knew my gifts from an early age and I’m exercising them. When God gives you a gift, he gives you something to change the world with in a different way and you must never play with it because you might regret it. Because it was given to you, it says something. Just find your gift and stick to it, what is it that you were called to do? What is it that you love? And are you doing it?. I also urge you to act on your dream because you can read a lot of books, speak English with your noses, listen to wonderful speakers at expensive seminars, be born in a rich or poor family or be politically connected but as long as you don’t act your dream you are chewing a gum with a loose tooth and pouring the vinegar on the wound.
It is up to you to take charge of your own life. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward with your head above the sea level. Don’t allow fear to forbid your success progress because your ideas will be locked in your own prison where you are the Minister of Correctional Services. You are going to get rejected in several occasions but that should be your vitamins because you are going to knock on 10 doors and only 1 will be opened, I got rejected so many times until it became normal, the list is just endless. Always stand for what you believe in and understand that you will only get better with time in whatever that you do, it doesn’t happen in a day, there more you do, the better you become. Strive to be unique at all times and always revisit your dream from time to time to boost your drive to succeed. Results of fear are only doubts; you will postpone forever if you don’t just do it. Just start without looking back.
“Stick to wherever your heart is and you’ll never be hungry”. And I will say it to you, Stick to where your heart is.
Facebook: Teboho Thuswa
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