Gqeberha-born star Pamela Mtanga not only wows us on the red carpet with her impeccable style, she also creates compelling, award-winning content and has now been announced as the new presenter on Channel O and Massive Music, a spot previously held by Lalla Hirayama and Anele Zondo, co-hosting with Smash Afrika. We chat to her about her life and career.
You are a lot of beautiful things Pamela, in such a short space of time, how do you think you have managed to get where you are?
Thank you but funny enough, It actually has not been a short space of time. I first picked up the Mic 7 years ago as a campus radio personality and I have never looked back since. That is the beauty about the line of work I am in, although the journey is different for everyone else, but you take years to harness your skill until you actually get recognition and get a chance to share it on a larger scale. What I continue to strive on is definitely reminding myself that I have not “arrived”. I can never stop learning, growing and harnessing my craft because I am only as good as my last gig.
What are some of your career highlights?
I will mention two with the exception of Massive Music which is my biggest career moment thus far and I am truly grateful.
- When I picked up the mic for the first time and did my first radio show without a brief or interview prior. The only experience I had was standing in front of my grandfather’s mirror, pretending I was on Yo TV. A week later I was told I got the job, I never stopped believing in my destiny. I have worked with corporate brands and met the biggest South African acts, with every moment, it still feels like I need to pinch myself. I just think back to the time I first picked up the mic and think, ‘boy aren’t you glad you picked up that mic”.
- Being personally invited by Bonang to her BNG Valentine’s Day Party. There is something about watching someone on TV for years and looking at them and thinking “I want to do THAT!” then later meeting them. Not only do you meet them, but they are equally excited to meet you and see you grow within the same line of work. I never knew I needed that encounter to reinforce that I belong in this line of work and a globally acclaimed media personality reinforced it.
From studying PR to being in front of the camera and behind the mic, what are some of the advantages from your qualification, how has it propelled you to being the best at what you do?
As a PR major, I am pretty sure you can tell that I take my brand image seriously. Sometimes too seriously that I limit myself because I am very guarded as to how and what I communicate to the public as far as brand perception is concerned. I want to be the narrator of my own story and not have the public write my story for me. I know it is almost impossible to achieve that 100% but I at least want to control what I can especially because the longevity and impact of my brand means the world to me.
Are you still friends with Maps, your Mrs Buns campaign was incredible.
Thank you! The campaign was merely about sharing a fresh take on influencer marketing and just having fun with social media. During that time I got exposed to the good and bad side of social media, made new friends and of course made an acquaintance with someone who is in the same line of work as I am. There is a handful of people that still call me Mrs Buns so it evidently was special.
What’s your advice for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t. Write your own story and make your own strides. Take inspiration from everyone you look up to but walk the path YOUR WAY! Whatever line of work you are in, do your research and be willing to start small. Do not be stagnant and wait for the next person or brand in order for you to start, start now and they will support your moving ship. Bet on yourself, you have nothing to lose.
You recently worked on the Celeb City event with Cassper Nyovest and NaakMusiq, how was that experience?
Black excellence and innovation! That is how I would describe that experience. I believe everyone in the entertainment industry (in general too) is talented but hard work and dedication create a clear distinction. The real legacy is outside the music; it is about impact, longevity and understanding that you are a business and that is what I learnt from that experience. The pertinent question that has been ringing in my head that I am working on ensuring that my work answers in the next couple of years is, “Yes you are talented, but what else?”
Who are your top 5 entertainers locally whom you draw inspiration from?
This is a tough one because I have at least 10 across different categories and the order fluctuates according to what resonates with me at that particular time. Right now, I am looking at the following entertainers:
- Bonang Matheba
- Cassper Nyovest
- Thuso Mbedu
- Trevor Noah
- Mihlali Ndamase
- Bonus: Nomzamo Mbatha’s overall brand
What’s next for Pamela?
2022 is the year of growth and self-expression. I hope you are ready to see this star shine brighter, wear your shades because it might just blind you.
You were part of the Honey TV family, how has making TV been for you?
I was and it was an absolutely beautiful experience. I actually swore to never do tv because I believed that I was more of an MC but when the opportunity came about, I gave it a shot. I left my 9-5 job right after signing on the dotted line and I started shooting the tv show a week later. Although I shot the show for two weeks, it pushed me to make the decision to actually give my media career a shot and face it full-on instead of splitting my time between all the work that I do and my 9-5 and I can firmly say it was the best decision I had ever made.
Is there a lot of expectation for you to be “something” back home?
My mom lives forty minutes away from me and she has created a safe space for me to go back home whenever I need to and be vulnerable to communicate when things get tough. There is absolutely no pressure for me to demonstrate my level of success by running myself dry financially and that is what I appreciate about my mom. My family is quite small so to be quite honest they are supportive of my journey but my mom is the person I confide in when it comes work that brands contact me about and she prays for me things to work in my favour. Whether it lands or not, she continues praying for me and celebrates with me if things work out but she never treats me differently.