KwaZulu-Natal born content creator, Thenjiwe Moseley, is an all-round entertainer who has taken the digital space by storm with her barrier-breaking comedy skits.
By: Musa Gift Mqwashu
Images: Courtesy of Thenjiwe Comedian
With over 300 000 Facebook and Instagram followers, and over 100 000 subscribers and 30 million views on YouTube, Thenjiwe is undoubtedly one of today’’ most successful entertainers.
The comedian, writer, content creator and actor who hails from KwaMashu has not only conquered local audiences, she has also broken through the impenetrable international market.
Speaking to Blacklight during a virtual interview while in London, Thenjiwe displays admirable zeal and an infectious bubbly persona that puts one at ease instantly.
She recounts her bold career transition from practicing law to comedy, and how the two are somehow connected.
“I view law and comedy as the same profession, because they both require me to be the voice for the voiceless. Comedy is (also) born out of tragedy,” she says.
Watch Thenjiwe’s popular show, Judge Thenjiwe Khambule:
With the Covid-19 pandemic leaving many performers in distress and grumbling to find alternative ways to keep working while adhering to the ‘social distancing’ regulations, for Thenjiwe this has been a period of sheer creativity.
She hails digital technology for transforming social norms (the way we interact and communicate) and opening up a space for upcoming entertainers and content creators to be able to reach a wider audience.
“The digital space has made it easy to make local brands go international, without one even leaving the comfort of their home,” she explains. “This means we can collaborate with other creatives from around the world without having to travel. Streaming platforms have also made our work easily accessible. During lockdown I was able to stream my own show Thenjiwe Live In London, which people could purchase tickets for and watch from the comfort of their homes.”
With the growing demand for online content, the once overlooked online space has seen digital creative entrepreneurs thriving. As a result, the entertainer says the worldwide transition to online has made her more financially savvy.
“Comedians no longer have to solely rely on promoters and television networks to have a career,” she says “Now, we have many comedians who become household names through social media platforms.”
However, with the migration online, the social media entertainment space has now been oversaturated with upcoming performers hoping to crack into the highly competitive industry. Thenjiwe highlights the importance of authenticity as a great way to cultivate a loyal online audience.
“Cultivating an audience takes time, but being authentic helps you find your tribe,” She explains, “When I started I was doing my skits in Zulu, and surprisingly, I have a lot of people who followed me just because they were intrigued by the language and wanted to understand what I was communicating, eventually I started doing videos in English or putting subtitles.”
Thenjiwe holds a degree in the dramatic arts, and as a performer she has always found comfort in her own skin and takes pride in her roots, which is palpable in her work.
“I love to put on outfits that represent my tribe (my heritage) when I perform abroad and this has opened new doors for me, as a result, I have opened a Nguni beads and accessories store in North America.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to look and sound western, but they [international audiences] are not looking for copies of themselves, that’s why Lady-Smith Black Mambazo has won so many Grammys.”
The performer’s penchant for being candid on topics that many would rather sweep under the rug has not only seen her conquer the digital entertainment circuit, it has seen her also racking up multiple impressive deals, like the international comedy streaming service, Next Up…
I address relatable issues and talk about matters that people are scared to address. Most people don’t question things, such as religions, because they don’t want to be seen as blasphemous.
But Thenjiwe’s focus remains on telling real-life and personal stories, from childhood, dating, family and motherhood. She says her creative process entails consuming enough information to remain relevant without misleading the public with her opinions.
She may not claim to be clairvoyant, but the tale of her rise to stardom sounds like an unorthodox fable, which is why many find her to be a true inspiration and barrier-breaker. Perhaps we could attribute her vigour to the fact that she was born in the same township that bore iconic entertainers, such as SAFTA (South African Film & Television Awards) Lifetime Achievement recipient, Thembi Mtshali-Jones.
She is a living testament of what happens when you combine natural talent with passion, authenticity and courage. She is proof that when one decides to live truthfully, with a clear purpose, the doors of success eventually swing open.