BLAZING TRAILS INTO 2023

By Sive Mjindi 

The new year always has a “new beginnings” appeal for me. The fresh start and goals to achieve in the year sprinkled with a resolution or two, seem like what the new year doctor ordered. I’m sure I’m not alone in taking this time as one to innovate a few areas in my life, right? It’s a chance to attend those gym classes I signed up and never pitched for in all of 2022, or even a fresh outlook that’s just what I may need to face the life-shaping challenges coming up this year. Maybe a chance to relook at my role models, to realign my own vision for the way forward, and reach even greater heights by venturing in new directions. All in all, the new year brings an opportunity to ignite my inner strength for the year ahead, a chance to see my peers excelling and charge forward on my own path knowing that my goals are tangible as well. That’s why I loved getting into conversation with some fresh queer trailblazers in the media & entertainment industry, who had their experiences and unique perspectives to share on what sets them apart and gives them the drive to be who they are at their fullest successes.

From entertainer, social media sensation, celebrity stylist & musician, Mr. AllofIt is best known for zeal, confidence & a visionary aesthetic in all his entertainment ventures. He’s made a name for himself dressing stars such as Nomuzi Mabena, Kwesta, Sho Madjozi & many other celebrity personalities; and also collaborated both in fashion and music, choreographing for industry titans like DJ Zinhle. While unashamedly taking on a mission to “light up the world”, this self-proclaimed “Super Star of the Century” also has an endearing, introspective side that firmly shows a secure foundation of self-love and meaningful expression.

Born in Mthatha to the Christian, matriarchal, families – the Gobodo’s & Bam’s; Mr. Allofit (Sikelela Nomvete) animatedly describes his background and how he grew up in Joburg while having his roots from the Eastern Cape firmly present. He remembers that having a solid upbringing in faith and believing in what’s possible as well as growing up in a musical environment, has propelled his creativity into adulthood. As he fondly recalls, meeting and spending time with his two great-grandmothers were pivotal in shaping the loving spirit and hard work that makes him excel as he grows in his fashion, style, and musical career today. Add to that his inspiration from celebrities like Brenda Fassie and Michael Jackson because they gave him qualities he imbibes in his life, like “unlimited self-expression, fashion, confidence, timelessness, global world SUPERSTARDOM, and musicality, as well as smoothness and effortless swag; make this trailblazer someone to keep an eye on and draw inspiration from. It’s evident why he’s a trailblazer in the entertainment world, yet he takes it all in-stride and asserts he’s even going for bigger and better in the upcoming year!

When asked how he’s broken the mold to stardom, he responds: “I call myself the Super Star of the Century – but I’m still on an ever-unfolding journey. All the elements that make up Mr. Allofit operate simultaneously. When it comes to the choreography and custom Mr. Allofit clothing – it’s more about offering my excellence in those fields. I see myself running a Super Star School one day!”. Star power and pursuit of success drive MrAllofIt to be a visionary inspiration for others as well, adding that he wants all who recognize his journey to: “see me being myself and be inspired to be themselves, enjoy whoever they are and appreciate themselves. That’s how we light up the world!”

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Our next trailblazer, Clement Lloyd Scholtz, affectionately known by ‘Cleme-clems’ to scores of social media followers, is a great example of what it means to grab one’s destiny, follow your dreams, and accomplish goals by living to the fullest. Born into a very Christian family and raised between Eldorado Park and Orange Farm, Clement had visionary aspirations from a young age. Being a youth leader in the church and dreaming of one day becoming a pastor, prayer became a strong part of his life to which he owes his present successes. Even with a social media following in the tens of thousands, a leading events company, and frequent travel to global holiday spots; Clement keeps a level head and believes there’s even much more he still wants to achieve in the future. “I don’t think I have reached my personal version and idea of success yet, but I’m on the way there”: he comments, adding his late grandmother who single-handedly raised ten and more kids, as well as his resilient mother, as inspirations he can always turn to while reaching for greatness in his life.

Clement proves that to be a trailblazer, one may face critical points in life where they are willing to bet on themselves and take risks to achieve their goals. “I was in insurance, social media and ‘influencing’ was picking up. My pages started picking up traction and I got my first contract, and it was the exact same amount as my net salary. So, I sat down with a friend and thought about how I could make this work for me in the long term”, he mentions. “I had to choose or decide between a corporate office job and working for and by myself, and that’s how the change came about! Strangely enough, when I resigned everyone kept asking if I was going into TV, entertainment and/or eventing, so I knew I had made the right choice.” And with that reassurance, Clement took his social media and business by full force, working hard with brands he had long aspired to across different destinations in South Africa, eSwatini, Tanzania, Ghana, and many more stunning locations. It may have not been easy, but taking that leap allowed him to embrace the future he desired for himself and materialized it into a “soft life” of travel, good food, and the aesthetically-rewarding adventures he shares in his exhilarating life online.

Clement describes his social media presence and lifestyle as a visual album of his days with friends. He believes the success of it, however, comes from the dedication and hardcwork he brings to each page, strategically guided by marketing savvy. By making the effort to find insights and things or people he enjoys, from that he creates original content and gets to be surrounded by things and people with the same interest as him. He treats social media like a business, closely monitoring where he gets the most engagement from audiences’ likes. He reveals further that the recipe for succeeding also means not being afraid to decline some deals, invites, or brands that don’t align with you and who you are. “Find where you belong, what works for you, what brings you joy, and remember to constantly try to improve that”, he asserts and advises: “Above all, please have fun”!

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When we caught up with Lula Odiba, she was as busy trailblazing as one can get. The past year saw Lula living freely and unapologetically as a media powerhouse, a YFM Radio Dj producer, and a model who’s taking the media and social media industries by storm with her charismatic energy and larger-than-life personality. She describes herself as having had a fun, supportive, disciplined, and often exciting upbringing. Her journey to accomplishing feats in media has been fostered by a musical education where she played double bass as well as a resourceful mother who taught Lula financial responsibility and discipline from an early age. “So, I learned how to save from my mom earlier on and I’m reaping the benefits now. I’m disciplined as well, like, it’s hard for me to miss a day of work no matter what, I could be as sick as a dog and I’d still show up.” She continues to emphasise: “Commitments & seeing things through; I’ve been challenged by that a lot this year, but I saw everything through and I’m super proud of that”. The enthusiasm radiates from Lula’s voice with conviction, admittedly showing that hard work combined with talent can achieve great goals and change one’s life. She shows that these are some of the tools that helped her make a name for herself with a bright future in entertainment as soon as she made the decision to leave classical music behind and embrace radio.

Lula also lists Karabo Poppy as well as Trevor Noah as people who inspire her because they made the impossible feel tangible for her, adding profoundly that world-class entertainers like them have made it possible for her to relate to their achievements and dream big broadcasting dreams for herself such as at the levels of BET and the Grammys. Lula’s ambition is driven by the fact that she embraces her queerness, wild personality, and confidence so that others may also draw inspiration from her, as she declares: “I’d like to see a little more faces like ours [in entertainment] to show a little lesbian girl who’s scared to come out that it’s ok, in fact here’s someone that looks like you who’s doing absolutely fine”.

“With everything I do I try to be as authentic as possible. I think that sets me apart because I’m [bleeping] dope dawg, you know what I’m saying?”: Lula banters, while revealing her ambitious goals for the future. Even as she ventures to greater heights with her modeling and media career, she brings a unique wit, humor, and determination to be great at what she does. “I really don’t want to make it seem like it’s a competition, we’re not in competition with one another because comparison is the biggest thief of joy and I just think that I stay ahead by being on the ball every single time I’m on that stage or on that mic. I always remember that there are so many people listening, and I also don’t know who is listening because, in my mind, everybody is listening, you know.”  

Trailblazing into the year with renewed energy and vigor, our trendsetting innovators Lula, Clement & Mr. Allofit are charging a way forward from ordinary to trailblazer and we can’t wait to see what new aspirations they attain. They serve as a real-life example of innovative heights one can reach when one is confident in who they are, as well as shining a light forward for the queer community as a whole. Though each of these stars occupies a different space in media, their shining personalities & stories of success help re-pave the way for all of us and visibly portray what it means to set oneself apart from the rest, embrace one’s dreams and continue striving towards greatness. 

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