George Mnguni, popularly known as Okay Wasabi, is a content creator, TV host and, most recently, a radio presenter. He is mainly known for his video skits, humour and YouTube content. The comedic creative speaks about what inspires him, his lessons as a creative, and more. George knew since he was in primary school that he was funny and could tell well-received jokes. However, he didn’t think about it as a career path until a later stage in his life. “Realising that I could tell jokes was a primary school thing. But it wasn’t a career thing until just after high school. That’s when I decided to take it seriously”, he says. Before creating content, George was enrolled for an Accounting degree. However, he realised he didn’t want to study Accounting or get into that career field. He then decided to leave university to pursue a career in the entertainment industry through content creation.
“I was studying Accounting, but I realised that if I do get this degree and get the job, would I be happy with doing that instead of just taking the leap of faith into something I know I will enjoy doing every single day?” He reflects on how doing something he doesn’t love was scarier than trying to do what he loves and failing. “It was a battle of two fears, and the fear of doing something I don’t love was greater”. It was easier for George knowing that he has his mother’s support,” My mother was very supportive from early on.” With his mother’s support and a burning desire to entertain people, George set off to pursue his dream. George states that he planned to get on television, and he used content creation as a tool to help him realise that plan. He started creating content to be discovered and get on television. “Many content creators today make content to succeed on a social media platform and make money from that. I was creating content so that an executive producer or someone could whisk me up and put me on a screen”, he says. That was George’s plan and the only one he had. “After leaving university, there was no plan B. I was so focused on the entertainment plan that I genuinely didn’t have a Plan B,” he says. Looking back at it now, he states it was a driving force he isn’t sure he completely understands.
“The will to do what I love every day just kept me going and blind to the possible need for a plan B”.
Just like every creative, George experiences creative blocks frequently. But he does not let that make him doubt his passion for being in the industry. He deals with creative blocks by pivoting and never staying in one creative space, “I never stay in one area for too long. If I can’t think of skits, I’ll try music, YouTube, or tech reviews. I am always pivoting”. He says that pivoting is helpful because it helps one avoid running out of ideas or having their audience bored. After all, one shouldn’t become too predictable. George’s will to get on TV was inspired by the entertainment he consumed growing up, shows like S’Gudi S’Naysi and The Pure Monate Show, “I spent too much time in front of the TV, and that’s one thing that made me say I want to entertain people”, he says. Another source of inspiration for him was the experiences he lived through in his neighbourhood, Vosloorus. And right now, he is inspired by continuously working on being a better Okay Wasabi than he was last year or the year before that. “I think if I don’t exceed what I’ve already put out in the world, I’ll get bored myself.”
He also reflects on the challenges he has overcome as a creative. He talks about how remaining consistent has been a bit challenging for him, “Consistency has been a tough one for me because sometimes I don’t want to create content. I just feel like going somewhere and getting new experiences and living a life that will give me a new perspective that will inspire new content”, he explains. He shares that consistency is vital in any creative industry because it’s how one excels. “You can’t survive off of something you dropped 4 or 5 years ago because there’s so much content flowing around, so much is pulling people’s attention, you need to create something that will grab people’s attention and remain consistent enough to keep it.” Another thing he has conquered is how he used to find it hard to collaborate with other people. That was mainly because, often, collaborating requires saying your ideas out loud or writing them down. “Creativity is a language, and sometimes I struggle to translate what I am trying to communicate”, he says. He explains that it was challenging because he hated it when someone told him to write his idea down. “I just want to create it, shoot it, then show you”, he says. He states that collaboration was a thorn he dealt with early on, and it has gotten better, and he has gotten better at communicating his ideas.
Although George decided to leave university, he would tell anyone who aspires to be in the industry not to drop out of school because he realises now that leaving school with one plan and no plan B was a bit impulsive. However, if you have a burning desire to follow a particular path, then follow that path. “But ungangi blame if kuyabheda” (Don’t blame me if things don’t go well), he says jokingly. He continues on a serious note to say that you should follow the desire in your heart, but it is also great to have a backup plan because it is amazing when things get scary. However, “You’ll never go wrong if you do what you enjoy every single day.” He’d also advise people to trust their gut and stay true to themselves because it’s not always about the big splash, so they mustn’t try to replicate something just to get huge numbers in terms of engagement. “It may sound cliché and redundant but be true to yourself and trust your gut. If your intentions are pure, you’ll get where you need to be”, he says.
In April 2023, when YFM announced that he would be joining the Y-family, George added ‘radio presenter’ to his list of skills and talents. “I never thought I’d ever do radio in my life. It was a shock to me. It’s the creative era I’m in now”. He talks about how he’s finding radio and how different it is from being on TV. “Radio is so different because it has much more scheduling and rules and regulations that I am still getting used to.” He says it is a bit more challenging because when one performs as a comedian on the radio, all they are relying on is their voice. That differs from TV because TV is a visual medium, so you can use gestures and facial expressions to deliver certain lines. “But with radio, you’re depending on nothing but your voice, which is teaching me to stretch that muscle.”
George’s social media bio says, “I Am Going To Be A Household Name.” He states that he will consider himself a household name when there is a lot of diversity in the age groups of the demographic of people that know him. “I haven’t considered myself a household name because my demographic is still too young.” He states that he loves being stopped at the mall and told by people that they love his work, but he wants grandmothers, uncles, and people of all ages to recognise him. He states that the late Joe ‘Sdumo’ Mafela or Trevor are known by people of all ages ranging from 4-year-olds to elderly people, making them household names. “When I start to see more diversity in the age groups of the people that recognise me, That’s when I’ll know that I am a household name.”
George’s growth in the entertainment industry is so beautiful to witness and with the way he is so driven and committed to keep growing, he is well on his way to being a household name — there’s no doubt about it. We can’t help but feel thrilled to see what he’ll do next and what wit he’ll surprise us with in the future!