Four courageous South African women are preparing to summit Mt. Everest in April and May 2020 as the first all-women team from Africa to complete the climb, with the aim of fulfilling their long-held dreams and inspiring young women entrepreneurs to overcome metaphorical ‘mountains’ in their lives with the ‘courage to start and the strength to endure’ – the motto of the expedition.
The women, who are all both leaders and mountaineers, are Lisa Gering, Alda Waddell, Deshun Deysel, and Tumi Mphahlele, all from Johannesburg, with Ronnie Muhl, avid mountaineer and founder of Cape Town-based Adventures Global, managing the full logistics of the climb. [Bios of each below.]
From the outset, the idea was always to be an all-women team, and the first from Africa to summit the world’s highest mountain – of which only a few South African women have ever achieved that. Gering, spokesperson for the team, explains, “Alda set her heart on climbing Everest and started the ball rolling. She contacted Deshun who said yes, as long as Ronnie Muhl manages the logistics. Ronnie recommended me to join the team, which I was excited and delighted to do. We knew we needed a fourth member and searched until we found Tumi, who is very experienced and perfect for the challenge.”
All the women have extensive mountaineering experience, trekking, hiking, climbing, and summiting the highest mountains in several continents, while Deshun and Tumi are also accomplished athletes in other sports.
The team is also fully committed to the cause behind the climb – inspiring, empowering and supporting women entrepreneurs. Gering says, “The Everest 2020 climb has a strong give-back element, and a percentage of our sponsorship will be going towards inspiring, supporting, and empowering women entrepreneurs – it’s where we all come from and it’s something we’re passionate about. We want them to know that they too can conquer the ‘Everests’ in their lives.”
Deysel adds, “Building up a business is like climbing Mt. Everest – it requires many hours of preparation, endurance, and sacrifice while staying focused on the long-term goal of success. As women entrepreneurs, we get it. We’ve been climbing our business Everests for many years and we understand the pain involved in making a business sustainable. As mountaineers, we have physically walked these journeys as well.
“Our mission is to highlight the plight of the woman entrepreneur in Africa by climbing the world’s highest mountain, and our hope is to inspire entrepreneurs, to relate to their everyday struggles, and create a positive narrative around the possibilities and victories that await those who give it their all.”
As part of their preparation for the expedition, the all-women team will climb Mont Blanc (4,810 metres) in the Alps in Europe in September and Mount Aconcagua (6,959 metres) in the Argentinian Andes in December, as well as intensive individual training by each of the team members, and two-weekly meetings to ensure everything is on track.
Securing sponsorship is a vital element in the plans and preparation for the expedition as the full cost of the preparation climbs and the ultimate expedition up Mt Everest in 2020 for the four-women team is about R5 million. “We are working on sponsorship/partnership options and are open to discussions with corporates who would be interested in seeing their company flag flying at the top of the world,” says Gering.
Media coverage of the Everest 2020 all-women climb will primarily be handled by Tony Lourens, world-renowned mountain journalist and photographer, and editor ofSA Mountain magazine, who will be based permanently at Everest Base Camp for the duration of the expedition to oversee the extensive press, radio, television and digital coverage.
Ronnie Muhl says, “I am very proud and extremely excited to have been asked to look after all of the logistics for this expedition, and I cannot wait to see the women hold the South African flag on the summit.” Earlier in April 2019, Muhl trekked to the Base Camp of Everest. “Part of the reason for this visit to the Himalayas was to prepare for the South African Women’s Everest expedition in 2020.”
Follow the team as they prepare for Everest 2020 on Facebook on Everest2020SA.
BRIEF BIOS ON THE FOUR EVEREST 2020 SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN
Lisa has a personal company called LRM Diamonds but is full time as a shareholder and partner with REAL Entrepreneur.
She holds the position of COO across two of the companies in the REAL Network group, she is the Culture Champion, and also heads up the Coaching Division and helps to run events.
Lisa has trekked or climbed every year, sometimes twice, since 2010 and has stayed fit and strong for the trips. She started mountaineering when she was brought into the Mt. Kilimanjaro expedition in 2010 as a ‘team and client’ trip.
What do you love about mountaineering? “I have never found another environment where one is tested on all levels as much – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. I love the journey of discovery and growth and the lessons one learns. The person on the other side of each trip is changed forever!”
What strengths do you bring to the team? I play an incredibly strong supportive role as well as being able to get stuff done. I am proactive and a self-starter. I am a good listener and people feel heard and seen when I engage with them.
On being the first all-women team from Africa to conquer the world’s highest mountain? “It’s an absolute honour! I feel incredible blessed and grateful for the opportunity to take this step for not only myself but to inspire and encourage and support others to take their first steps to conquering their ‘Everests’.”
Your message to women entrepreneurs? “Our motto for our trip – ‘Courage to start, strength to endure!’”
Alda works for BMW South Africa as a Specialist: Sub Sahara Africa Operations and Special Projects. She has 23 years’ experience in the motor industry and holds an MBA Degree from Rhodes University, BTech Degree in Management, National Dip in Management.
She is mother of 17-year-old twins, Clair and Craig.
Alda has battled personal injuries and embarked on a journey to test her own physical and mental strength by setting goals to climb the highest mountain on each continent.
What do you love about mountaineering? “The entire journey of mountaineering is an adventure, from meeting new people and creating lifelong bonds, to the extraordinary places she has visited and experienced.”
When did your interest in mountaineering start? “In 2008, when I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. To most, the start of the adventure starts on day on of the summit, but to me it actually starts months prior with a lot of physical and mental preparation, along with lots of research. The seven days summit was physically challenging and I kept asking myself, ‘Why I am I doing this?’ I then remembered that I had something to prove to myself. When I reached the summit I was overwhelmed by a mix of emotions, and the experience was somewhat surreal. Only later did I realise what I had accomplished – I had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and overcome my own doubts.”
On the Everest 2020 expedition? “Now, embarking on climbing Mt. Everest, I am a step closer to achieving my dream of climbing the highest mountain.”
Deshun is MD of Deshun Deysel & Associates, which equips clients to transition from Performance Management to Performance Development by using an Agile, Light and Continuous Digital Platform.
Deshun lives in Johannesburg with her husband Charles and their two children, Edward and Judith.
Her sports involvement includes mountaineering, open water swimming, cycling, running, and she played provincial volleyball in high school and college.
Mountaineering was “a childhood dream”, which was realised in 1995. Deshun was a member of the first team of South Africans who placed the new SA democratic flag at the top of Mt. Everest. She was the first Black woman in the world and the youngest South African to set foot on the slopes of Mt. Everest.
Deshun has participated in climbing expeditions to five of the seven summits on five continents: Mt. Mckinley, North America; Mt. Elbrus, Europe; Aconcagua, South America; Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa; Everest, Asia. She has successfully guided teams up Mt. Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro and smaller South African peaks, and summited Mt. Meru (Tanzania), Mt. Kenya (Kenya), Mt. Blanc (France), Mt. Kalapathar (Nepal).
What do you love about mountaineering? “The freedom of climbing and the challenge of pushing beyond my obvious limits.”
What do I bring to the team? “I bring experience of over 20 years as a high-altitude mountaineer. I started with no experience in 1995 and steadily built up a climbing portfolio, which positions me as someone who can assist, guide and advise the team.”
On being the first all-women team from Africa to summit Everest? “It’s so exciting because it’s a first. Also, being entrepreneurs, we want to highlight the real journeys of real entrepreneurs by creating a synchronised narrative for both experiences. I believe that I’m here, right now, at this time in history, to leave a lasting impression and impact on humanity. I aim all my goals to line up with this sense of purpose.”
What other interests do you have? “I love DIY, interior design and architectural content. When I want to relax or de-stress I go to these mediums (magazines/ TV shows/ books and internet).”
Your message to female entrepreneurs? “We were born for this! We have the fortitude, the drive and the endurance to start, build, scale and sustain businesses.” #CourageToStart #StrengthToEndure #JoyInTheVictory
Tumi is director and shareholder at IG3N and Amperion Energy – two companies in the renewable energy sector that she co-founded and is leading. Tumi is also experienced in the execution of complex projects and programmes and has served as GM for Corporate Strategy at the SABS and the Development Bank of SA.
Tumi is a recreational endurance athlete with a keen interest in mountain sports. She has successfully climbed three of the seven summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus and Mt. Aconcagua – and has ambitions to complete the rest of the seven summits over the next few years. She has also summited other mountain peaks of varying altitudes in Africa and South America.
Tumi is also a hiker, a mountain biker, an ultradistance road and trail runner, and has completed seven Comrades Marathons and six Two Oceans Marathons.
She battled ill health with External Iliac Artery Endofibrosis from 2016 to 2018, and after two operations late last year, she summited Aconcagua in December 2018.
Why climb Mt. Everest? “It represents an opportunity to break one of the major barriers that seems to be largely out of reach for women, especially African women. Being part of the team that will make history is a fantastic opportunity because I believe in the process. We will also practically demonstrate to many young women that they too, in their many areas of life, can reach for the sky and achieve whatever they set their minds to.”
The strengths I bring to the team? “I have the mental and the physical strength and the fighting spirit and temperament to attempt such a feat and stay the course. I have a strong work ethic and an ability to practice objectivity, even under intense pressure. I get fulfilment from achieving the goals that I set for myself.”
On being the first all-women team from Africa to summit Everest? “The thought of summiting Mount Everest as a group of women gives me goose bumps and it will be a dream come true. While I respect the mountains and recognise the risk and dangers associated with climbing Mount Everest, I do think that the success for the team and for the continent is worth the risk.”
In 2009 Ronnie Muhl founded Adventures Global, “which helps people to take on life’s great adventures, of which climbing Everest is one of them”.
He has been passionate about mountains all of his life. In 1979, he read a book that inspired him to climb Everest and 28 years later he finally stood on the summit, becoming the seventh South African to summit Everest via the North-east Ridge. He subsequently authored a book, Everest: Surviving The Death Zone, on the experience. He says fulfilling this dream has motivated him to help others do the same.
Ronnie has been the leader of more international expeditions on Everest than any other South African and his experience on the mountain is unsurpassed.
In April 2019 he trekked to the Base Camp of Everest to prepare for the South African Women’s Everest expedition in 2020. He is proud and excited to have been asked to look after all the logistics for this expedition and cannot wait to see the women hold the South African flag on the summit.
In this 60th anniversary, Diamond Jubilee year of the Miss South Africa competition, the selection panel has been increased to a record seven – and includes a strong line up of some of our country’s most respected and influential personalities, each looking for that unique special ‘something’ to help them decide who will wear this year’s glittering Miss SA crown.
The spectacular Miss South Africa 2018 event will take place on Sunday, May 27 at Sun International’s new flagship venue, the Sun Arena at Time Square, Pretoria. It will be televised live and simulcast on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161).
Queen of SA talk, fun and funky radio jock Anele Mdoda, (a previous Miss SA judge in 2014), returns to the panel and will be joined by marketing personality Khaya Dlanga; businesswoman and media mogul Khanyi Dhlomo; entrepreneur and television presenter Janez Vermeiren; award-winning magazine editor Michelle van Breda; celebrity chef and TV personality Siba Mtongana and Miss World 2014, Dr Rolene Strauss.
Strauss, a businesswoman and chairperson of the Strauss Foundation truly appreciates what is required of a Miss South Africa.
“As a previous Miss South Africa and Miss World, I have been in the shoes of the contestants and understand what challenges they face. I believe it would ease their minds to see a familiar face and a person who knows what they are going through. I understand what an international competition like Miss World expects of a Miss South Africa and thus know exactly what to look for in a Miss South Africa who can represent our country internationally,” she says.
“I will be looking for a strikingly beautiful woman who becomes more beautiful as you get to know her. Someone who is hardworking, selfless, resilient and handles difficult situations with ease and grace.”
Anele Mdoda offers pertinent advice for the Top 12: “Your competition is not the other 11 women. The task at hand is to shine as the best form of yourself. Show us why the crown has your name on it. Show us what your intent is. Win it on purpose.”
And what will she be looking for when judging? “All the finalists have the potential. We are in an amazing place where all of them are worthy of the crown. What I am looking for is growth since being announced Top 12 and the young woman who shows me that her life will propel her forward with or without the crown,” explains Mdoda.
Khanyi Dhlomo describes what she is looking for in a potential Miss South Africa: “I think that South Africa, particularly in the current socio-political climate … needs even more self-assured, compassionate and intentional female voices. The winner must most certainly be beautiful but, more importantly, she must have self-belief as well as a strong desire and personal plan to move both herself and her country forward in her area of influence.”
Marketing mogul Khaya Dlanga has this to say: “I will be wearing both hats, that of a marketer and a writer, when casting my vote. My marketing hat will look for someone who is able to represent themselves effortlessly and is able to resonate with an audience that will only ever have access to them through the media and someone who is able to connect on a deeper level on a one on one basis as well. As a writer, I will be looking for someone who has a transcendent story that will resonate across all sectors of South Africa and can connect with the globe as well.”
Van Breda’s offers the following advice to our finalists: “You cannot save the world. But never underestimate the power of women and the power of one. So, show us who you are. You got to the Top 12 because the judges identified something they were really impressed with and liked – something original, something authentic, something different, something powerful. That is your strength. Stick to it. Use it. Talk and act from the heart.”
“Modern women are not afraid to get real and to get the job done. These are the very traits I will be looking for in Miss SA 2018. Someone who will be an ambassador and a spokesperson for women, our country and the Miss SA brand. For the winner, it could be a life-changing experience. This is that one-in-a-million opportunity! She must be prepared to give it her absolute all.”
Renowned media personality Janez Vermeiren, has been in the media industry for almost two decades, and has filled numerous roles, from model and model agency owner to TV presenter and now producer. He says: “Naturally Miss South Africa has to look the part but the most important for me is someone who is well rounded. I will be looking for someone who is media savvy, confident, compassionate and understanding of the challenges our country faces. My advice to all finalists is to clear their minds of all the hype and focus on bringing the best of themselves to the table. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not, keep it real and keep it natural.”
Popular foodie host Siba Mtongana understands the pressure of what it takes to succeed on a global stage and reveals what she is looking for in the young women who takes the crown: “I want to find South Africa’s next IT girl. Someone who steps into a room and commands everyone’s attention, without even saying a word. She is confident, yet humble, she has international appeal, yet is firmly grounded on local soil. She has a clear vision of who she is and what she wants to achieve and is looking to make an impactful mark on the world, not only for herself but for our nation.”
Sound advice from every member of the panel, each giving their own distinct opinion on what they’ll be looking for, and how they think the finalists should approach the big event on Sunday.
This year Miss South Africa announced a dramatic and exciting change to its format. Following the cut to the top five finalists, the organisers will go straight to a top two announcement, (rather than the previous approach of 2 runners-up – 2 Princesses – and 1 Miss South Africa winner). One of the pair will be named Miss World South Africa and one will receive the title of Miss Universe South Africa. Both will go on to represent South Africa on the global stage in each respective competition.
However, as there can be only one reigning Miss South Africa, the two winners will be asked one final question by the selection panel as the competition draws to a close. Their answers will determine who is crowned the official Miss South Africa 2018 and she will walk away with the R3 million prize package.
The runner-up takes home nearly R600 000 – R250 000 cash and R350 000 in prizes!
This year’s Top 12 finalists are Akile Khoza, Anzelle von Staden, Bryoni Govender, Daniellë de Jager, Karishma Ramdev, Margo Fargo, Noxolo Ndebele, Tamarin Bensch, Tamaryn Green, Thandokazi Mfundisi, Tharina Botes and Thulisa Keyi.
Tickets for this year’s pageant are available at TicketPro and cost between R160 and R560. Go to: www.ticketpros.co.za
Organisers reveal exciting new format
Pretoria, May 3: This year’s Top 12 Miss South Africa finalists have been announced as the pageant proudly celebrates its 60th anniversary, with a dramatic and exciting change to its format.
Traditionally, during the final on pageant night, the top 12 finalists are reduced to five, from which a second princess is announced, followed by a first princess and then the winner.
This year, following the cut to the top five finalists, the organisers will go straight to a top two announcement. One of the pair will be named Miss World South Africa and one will receive the title of Miss Universe South Africa. Both will go on to represent South Africa on the global stage in each respective competition.
However, as there can be only one reigning Miss South Africa, the two winners will be asked one final question by the judges as the pageant draws to a close. Their answers will then determine who is crowned as the official Miss South Africa 2018.
The Top 12 finalists, who each receive a prize package valued at R180 000, come from six of the country’s provinces – five from Gauteng; two from KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape respectively and one each from the Free State, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape. They’re an extremely impressive group, including several medical, science and law students and a number of BComm and BSc graduates.
They are (in alphabetical order of their first names):
· Akile Khoza (23) from Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga who is studying for her Masters in neuroscience at Stellenbosch University.
· Anzelle van Staden (25), from Centurion in Gauteng, has a BComm degree from the University of Pretoria and is currently a full-time model.
· Bryoni Govender (21), from Kempton Park in Gauteng, is a third year LLB student at the University of Johannesburg.
· Daniellë de Jager (20) from Benoni, Gauteng, is currently studying biokinetics at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth.
· Karishma Ramdev (23), from Chatsworth in KZN, is a fifth-year medical student at the University of Pretoria.
· Margo Fargo (25), originally from Heidedal in the Free State, has a BSc consumer sciences honours degree and is a co-founder of a NPO.
· Noxolo Ndebele (24), from KwaNongoma in KZN, has a BComm Acc degree and worked as a financial controller.
· Tamarin Bensch (25), originally from Bedfordview in Gauteng but now living in Somerset West, works in property management and interior renovations.
· Tamaryn Green (23), from Paarl in the Western Cape, is in her final year of medicine at the University of Cape Town.
· Thandokazi Mfundisi (23), from East London in the Eastern Cape, is a final year LLB student at Fort Hare.
· Tharina Botes (21), from Roodepoort in Gauteng, is a first year BComm marketing and business degree student at Damelin and a part-time model.
· Thulisa Keyi (26), originally from East London and who now lives in Gauteng, is currently doing her articles after graduating from the University of Cape Town.
The Miss South Africa Organisation (Cell C and Sun International) has the exclusive licences for the Miss South Africa title holder to compete annually in both the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants. Traditionally, the reigning Miss South Africa competed in both these international competitions. However, if Miss South Africa won on the international stage – as Rolene Strauss did with Miss World in 2014 or there was a conflict with dates that overlapped (which happened last year when Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters lifted the Miss Universe title) – the first runner-up was called upon to represent South Africa.
Says Suzette van der Merwe from Cell C on behalf of the Miss South Africa Organisation: “In 2018, we’re adopting international best practice in terms of our finalist judging in order to ensure that our contestants are given a bigger share of the global spotlight by strengthening our pageantry presence internationally. We are delighted that this new format will give two finalists the opportunity to represent South Africa and enable them to prepare thoroughly in advance.”
Adds Gareth Flusk from Sun International on behalf of the Miss South Africa Organisation: “We are thrilled with the calibre of the finalists in our 60th anniversary year. Any of these contestants would do us proud on the international stage. We are delighted that this year two women will be given the opportunity to shine.”
Miss South Africa 2018, the Diamond Jubilee spectacular with host Bonang Matheba, will take place on Sunday, May 27, at Sun International’s new flagship venue, the Sun Arena at Time Square, Pretoria.
Tickets for this year’s pageant are available at TicketPro and cost between R160 and R560. Bookings can be made at: www.ticketpros.co.za
Some people let a bump in the road break them down. Others take it in their stride. But the most successful people are those that deal with it and come out on top, having used that bump to give them a clear view of where they want to be when they continue on their journey.
Tracy Ziman Jacobs is that person, who discovered after her divorce in 2011 that no relationship is perfect. However, instead of allowing the divorce to derail her life, she used it for good, knowing that what she learned from her experience could help others. Meeting the positive, animated and bubbly person she is today, it’s hard to believe she was ever in any type of dark place, but directly after her unexpected divorce, a negative space was exactly where the person she is today had to emerge from.
No one gets married assuming it will end in divorce. Tracy certainly didn’t. “When I got married, I thought I’d never get divorced,” she says. “It came as a bit of a shock and after my divorce, I was cynical about marriage,” she admits. But she recognised the hope we as human beings attach to marriage. “It’s the romance that brings us together and after all, people are still getting married,” she muses. So, what’s the recipe for a loving relationship in which both partners are happy?
After soul searching and a lot of research, Tracy’s ethos is ardour (defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘great warmth of feeling; fervor; passion’ and ‘intense devotion, eagerness, or enthusiasm; zeal’: romance is key to the marriage-altering work she does with her clients. “I want to save marriages,” she explains, stating that it’s vital to look at what is lacking and return to the basic needs of the relationship. “Look at all those characteristics that drew you to your mate and created that chemistry,” says Tracy, who suggests it is possible to have an affair with your existing partner rather than look outside the marriage for the intimacy and fulfilment you crave. “What’s in an affair? Rather bring it back inside your marriage,” she states. She’s so right! Years into our marriages, when kids, work, and everyday stress takes over our lives, we’ve completely forgotten what first attracted us to our partners! And it seems a bit ridiculous to even think about it – but yet, so obvious.
Tracy’s undertaking to heal herself led her to want to heal others. Enter intimacy coaching: Tracy’s greatest passion. She qualified as an Intimacy Coach through Intimacy Coaching SA (ICSA) in 2016, but her drive to help others didn’t just start then – it goes way back, and is clearly inherent in her nature.
Her wealth of knowledge hasn’t come from life experience alone and is backed up by a BA in Social Sciences (1996, UNISA), as well as practical training with the Family Life Centre (FAMSA). This training led her to counsel both individuals and couples, as well as performGroup Therapy, Family Therapy, Trauma Counselling, Divorce Mediation, Pre-marriage Counselling and Employee Assistance Programmes. Once her training was complete, Tracy was hired by FAMSA as an Occupational Social Worker, enabling her to assist others further in their relationship and life journeys.
Professionalism is top of mind for Tracy. She treats every client with the utmost respect, and knows how important it is for them to feel at ease and nurtured during their sessions. The beautiful space she’s created to work in is inviting and nurturing. Her workshops promote a sense of enthusiasm and inspiration for both men and women, and they assist clients in realising that there are many others experiencing similar challenges, which ensures a community-type environment and a feeling of support.
Tracy’s determination to heal her clients’ relationships can only lead to good. Her end goal: to rekindle the passion in her clients’ love lives, helping them to “find each other”again. She acknowledges that hard work is key to ensuring this goal is met – by both her and her clients. And it’s something she doesn’t shy away from, knowing that with tenacity, her clients’ current intimacy levels can be increased exponentially.
Tracy works with marriages at any stage, with couples (both straight and gay), as well as single people in need of intimacy counselling. While Tracy’s work doesn’t simply focus on the notorious “seven-year itch”, it is a concept she’s very aware of in her practice and among the marriages she works on healing. “There are definitely seven year cycles (seven years, 14 years and so on) where things become a little staid,” she explains. Lesli Doares, a licenced marriage counsellor and family therapist, supports Tracy’s theory, saying that by seven years, a couple has usually had a child or two and children tend to change everything. “It is really the impact of children on the marriage that causes the underlying disconnect that leads to the ‘itch’ to get out,” says Lesli. “It is a combination of responsibility, lack of time for oneself, diminished intimacy and a sense of ‘is that all there is?’” (source: Women’s Health, October 2, 2015).
Speaking of which, as a mother herself, Tracy understands the delicate balance between parenting and marriage, and the challenges children can create once they are born. “Kids dictate what’s going to happen, they change everything and nobody prepares us for that,” says Tracy. “You’re this happy couple, everything is going well until the baby comes and then you see another side of each other that you haven’t seen before.” Then there are intimacy issues. “Many women get their physical needs met through bonding with their baby whereas men still want intimacy through sex,” she explains.
Feeling this type of disconnect? Whether you’re a parent or not, Tracy’s counselling work is about rekindling romance for a renewed intimate relationship. “You’ve just got to do it to understand it,” says Tracy of her sessions. “In other words, do the work and then you’ll understand it.” It’s nothing harmful – it’s about something that is positive, good and that will add value to your life, she explains. The benefits are numerous: “When you’re in synergy with the one you love, you are in a good space and you will find that you’ll sleep better, work better, have more patience with your children and be far more productive. Good sexual health is also great for creativity and for our bodies; it boosts circulation as well as oxytocin and serotonin. The bottom line is that connecting with your partner and being in a good space is wonderful for everyone all round.”
“Everyone” is a standout word in Tracy’s work: her sessions are for men and women in all stages of their lives. “Women feel validated and heard, and so do men,” she explains. “It’s incredible for me to see the ‘light’ come on when couples are shown a whole new way of connecting.”
I can vouch for the fact that Tracy is comfortable chatting about anything and will immediately put you at ease. Nothing is taboo with her, and she’s all about ensuring that her clients walk away in a positive, confident, comfortable space with themselves and their relationship.
Find out more about Tracy, her work and how to contact her, via her website: http://www.totallymetracy.co.za
Every Thursday evening at 19h30, since the end of August, the charismatic Sharon Spiegel Wagner has had South Africans glued to their TV’s watching SABC3’s BEDFORD WIVES, as the local comedy-drama unfolds with her character, the feisty Despina Giannopolous, taking centre stage.
Set in the lavish but seedy Johannesburg east suburb of Bedfordview, Bedford Wives follows the lives of four women and a somewhat sordid community of Bedfordview criminals who, on the surface, live pristine and perfect lives but, behind closed doors, have skeletons in their closets and secrets aplenty.
When her charming restaurateur husband, Marco Giannopoulos, is found dead under a side of lamb and dripping in gourmet olive oil, Bedfordview housewife and Mrs South Africa entrant, Despina, vows to keep the family businesses going – but then learns the real family business is crime…
Nothing is at it seems…
I’m not ashamed to say I’m completely hooked, and won’t miss an episode! It’s completely addictive, and ticks all the boxes for unmissable TV!
I recently sat down for coffee and a chat with Sharon to find out what life’s been like for her since Bedford Wives hit our TV screens – and if you haven’t caught on yet (we’re already 9 episodes in with just 5 left), you can catch up on YouTube where you’ll find all past episodes.
And indeed, nothing is as it seems, because Sharon is quite delightful; modest and unassuming and not at all like her onscreen persona, Despina, who is very much the typical ‘Bedford Wife’ and wouldn’t be caught outside of the house (or probably inside, for that matter) without her full armour of make up, designer clothing and killer heels!
Although Sharon’s first love is definitely musical theatre, her experience on Bedford Wives has been so positive that it’s quite encouraged her to explore the possibility of further TV roles in the future. She wasn’t initially asked to audition for the role of Despina, and in fact, was the very last person to audition for the part. Just an hour later, she got a call from her agent to say she’d got the job. Sharon describes her complete shock at hearing the news, but once she realised that it was actually true, she was (I quote) “sublimely excited”. And it’s proved to be a dream from beginning to end with the entire cast and crew being not only amazing to work with, but also completely understanding and flexible around Sharon’s other role: that of being mom to her 2 young daughters, one of who was just a few months old at the time of filming the series.
It was this that made Sharon realise that she might quite like to pursue more TV work in the future as it’s more adaptable to family life. She loves the art of acting and has grown enough within it to know what’s right for her and what isn’t. When she knows a role’s not for her, she’s excited to see who will play it. This is the mark of a true professional, or as Sharon so aptly describes it: “There’s an actor that loves the art, and there’s the actor that loves himself in the art.” That individual who purely loves himself in the role, and who cannot bring himself to rejoice in the success of a colleague is not quite there yet, regardless of whatever talents may have been bestowed on them.
When asked if she’d be happy for her kids to work in a similar or related industry to the one she’s currently in, knowing what she knows about all of the demands and drawbacks as well as the constant struggles and one-upmanship that the business is notorious for, Sharon’s immediate reaction is “Preferably not!”
But then … on reflection … she reconsiders. She feels that no matter what career they decide to follow (even if they want to become actors), there has to be understanding, appreciation and love for what one does, and they need to feel a true purpose for what they’re doing. When it comes to sensitivity they need to know how the business works. She reiterates, “… especially this business.”
For now, Sharon is taking a break, spending time with her kids and thoroughly enjoying watching them grow. She’d love to do more TV work, and is thrilled that Bedford Wives has opened up new horizons for her. We shared our strong views on how absolutely crucial it is for women to support each other and encourage each other. So often though, you find the opposite happening – we tear each other apart, instead of building each other up! Here once again, Sharon returns to the Bedford Wives set, speaking admiringly of her female director who allowed her the freedom to add her own interpretation into her role of Despina, or as she describes it, “a bit of quirk,” and who put her at complete ease with some scenes that she might otherwise have felt quite uncomfortable performing.
So, what’s next after this break? “Something BIG … I hope,” laughs Sharon, explaining that this is usually the work pattern that she follows. Whether it’s back on stage, where she feels most at home, or on our TV screens playing another feisty, go-getting, glitzy leading lady, Sharon puts heart and soul into everything she does, so whatever it is, we know it’s going to be fabulously fantastic!!
(But … no pressure, or anything!)
YELLOW : THE NOVEL
ZOE MODIGA’s fans have been waiting a long time for this and finally – the jazz and soul princess is launching her eagerly awaited album Yellow : The Novel on Friday 24 March at The Fringe @ Joburg Theatre at 8pm.
The music industry sat up and took notice of Zoe Modiga when she won the 2015 SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition for singing (Jazz Music). In 2016 she then went on to become a household name as one of the most popular contestants in the first season of The Voice SA, reaching the Top 8.
Her voice is instantly recognisable on Amazing Grace under the film scoring of Kyle Shepherd in the Oscar nominated movie Noem My Skollie.
On Yellow : The Novel, Zoe Modiga has created a body of work inspired by self-realisation and the human experience, much like a novel, inviting the audience to themselves.
This 23-track album (uniquely broken up into “Chapters”), with an exquisite, eye-catching cover, has a Soul, Jazzy, African feel: Compositional work with stage presence presentation.
She’s thrilled to invite her fans to join her in celebrating this momentous occasion.
ZOE MODIGA ALBUM LAUNCH – YELLOW: THE NOVEL is taking place for one night only on Friday 24 March at 8pm at The Fringe Theatre @ Joburg Theatre.
Yellow: The Novel will be available for sale for the first time at the Album Launch for R70, otherwise it’s included in the top Album Launch ticket price of R200.
Yellow: The Novel will thereafter be available for purchase on all digital platforms as from 25 March.
Download the first single from the album Love (Yahweh) now at https://itunes.apple.com/za/album/love-yahweh-single/id1193898249
ABOUT ZOE MODIGA
Zoe Modiga was born, Palesa Nomthandazo Phumelele Modiga in Pietermaritzburg. Her love for music at a very young age earned her entrance the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, where she studied classical piano, clarinet and vocals. Her time at the school provided an excellent platform to pursue music as a passion and career in her later years.
Over the past few years, with some experience behind her, this singer-songwriter’s talent has opened a number of doors in the music industry. Zoe has been fortunate enough to be part of celebrated festivals such as the Aardklop Festival, Artscape Youth Jazz Festival, UCT Jazz Festival, Joy of Jazz and The Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the winner of the Jazz Category of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition 2015.
On these respected platforms she has had the privilege of sharing stages with the likes of Lira, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Louis Maholo, Gloria Bosman, Matthew Gold, The Kiffness, Breakfast Included, the Frank Paco Art Ensemble, Mark Fransman, Sibusiso Dhlamini, Marcus Wyatt, Benjamin Jephta, Tshepo Tsotetsi and many more.
Despite sharing the stage with a number of performers, Zoe’s pursuit for her own identity maintained its own strong force in these collaborations. She aspires to pursue a multifaceted career where her singing, songwriting and performing is challenged, revered, inspired and influential.
This identity within her music attracted the ear of a number of respected recording artists and she featured on the following tracks in recent times:
- “Pushing On” with The Kiffness;
- “Dream” with The Kiffness;
- “Musukungibambezela” with Frank Paco Art Ensemble;
- as well as upcoming projects with Soul Sessionz, Kaapstad and the JoKunnuji Experiment.
Enjoy these videos of Zoe Modiga :
Zoe Modiga EPK
Zoe Modiga – 2015 SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Winner (Jazz Music)
Public voting intensifies leading up to the glitz and glamour of the 2017 Miss SA Pageant
The spectacular Miss South Africa 2017 pageant will takes place at the Sun City Superbowl on Sunday, March 26, at 17h00. Tickets ranging between R225 and R250 are now available at Ticketpro: http://www.ticketpros.co.za/portal/web/index.php/event/82500b8a-3ab1-e24c-2c88-58b41e2c2bad
The dazzling event, which sees 12 of the country’s most beautiful women compete to take the crown and follow in the footsteps of Miss South Africa 2016 Ntandoyenkosi Kunene, will be televised live and simulcast on M-Net and Mzansi Magic. The show also features exciting local musical talent and will be hosted by popular SA music personality and rapper, ProVerb.
The newly crowned Miss South Africa will receive R1-million in cash from sponsors Sun International and Cell C together with a bouquet of prizes that will elevate the competition to one of the richest pageants in the world.
The 12 beautiful women competing to be named Miss South Africa 2017 are Adè van Heerden – Herold’s Bay, Western Cape; Boipelo Mabe – Alexandra, Gauteng; Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – Sedgefield, Western Cape; Iman Mkwanazi – Lenasia, Gauteng; Kayla Malherbe – Mtunzini, Kwa Zulu Natal; Nicole van Niekerk – Môregloed, Pretoria, Gauteng; Nompumelelo Mampholo – Diepkloof, Soweto, Gauteng; Odirile Sepeng – Mabopane, Pretoria, Gauteng; Priyeshka Lutchman – Yellowwood Park, Durban, Kwa Zulu Natal; Shané Naidoo – Benoni, Gauteng; Shelbe Pretorius – Pinehaven, Krugersdorp, Gauteng and Yuta Raubenheimer – Kameeldrift, Pretoria, Gauteng.
The SMS lines are burning up as members of the public vote to have their say in who wins the prestigious title! Public SMS votes have a 25 percent weighting of the overall voting towards the winner, with 75 percent resting with the official judges. Judges for the pageant include Maps Maponyane, Bridget Masinga and Ezra Davids, with more celebrity judges to be announced shortly.
And by voting, you too can win! Anyone can enter the competition by sending an SMS with the key number of their favourite Top 12 finalist to the short code number, 45791. Each SMS costs R1.50. Proceeds from the competition will benefit the Cell C Girl Child Bursary Fund. Up for grabs for five lucky voters is a weekend at The Palace at Sun City and VIP tickets to attend the live Miss South Africa pageant and after party at Sun City. For more information visit the Miss South Africa website www.misssa.co.za.
The Miss South Africa Pageant is a proud collaboration between Sun International and Cell C.