Presenter and producer
Thenjiwe (Thenji) Stemela is a presenter on the SABC 3 Expresso Morning Show, and has been an eNCA technology reporter, a producer, a voice-over artist and worked in theatre. At 27 she has ticked a lot of accomplished boxes thanks to her vibrant personality, hard work and tenacity.
Stemela graduated in theatre and performance at the University of Cape Town and spent months working in a call centre to pay her bills. She applied for an opening at Expresso on a whim and got the job as a production assistant, quickly working her way up the ladder to become a producer within nine short months.
“I realised that I was inexorably drawn to a sense of freedom and escape through stories and storytelling, and that I would prefer the challenge of making this my career,” says Stemela. “I still feel daunted at times, but I am mostly inspired by the constant demand to be creative and the fact that while our country is still growing and making world history, we storytellers play such a key role in how the decades after 1994 will be remembered.”
Stemela has found a role model and mentor in Boitumelo Molekane, whom she met in 2007 for a school assignment.
“We are required to interview an inspiring South African and I was still deciding whether I would pursue a humanities or commerce degree,” explains Stemela. “He was kind enough to lend an ear to my worries about venturing into the entertainment industry, and somehow the interview transformed into a master-class on life and art. Since then he has been a driving force in how I think about my work through his music, artistry and our subsequent conversations.”
Stemela has some exciting plans for the future, which include developing her private writing projects into fully fledged productions. She has been working on building a production company and is hoping to make it into a reality.
“I love performing, so building my repertoire on screen is an endless endeavour,” she concludes. “At some point I would love to return to my academic path. Once these medium-term goals have aligned, I am certain a more powerful purpose will be revealed.” — Tamsin Oxford
Instagram and Twitter: @ThenjiStemela