South African television and radio personality Mmasea PeTje has fast become one of the country’s brightest stars. With a successful career that has seen her shine on radio stations such as Jacaranda FM and 947, as well as hosting the long-running SABC environmental and conservation show 50/50, she is certainly no stranger to the South African entertainment industry. Recently, she joined Ignition TV’s popular series Garage Gold as host which sees Mmasea taking viewers on a thrilling ride as she gives viewers an inside look at some of the country’s exceptional and vintage cars.
Now, Mmasea opens up about all things career, life and revving it up as host on Garage Gold.
Who is Mmasea PeTje when the mic isn’t on and the cameras aren’t rolling?
Contrary to popular belief, I am quite the introvert and when the mic isn’t on and the cameras aren’t rolling I am very chilled and to myself. My friends and family think I’m weird. I have some very uniquely odd quirks and a strange sense of humour. Also, the older I get, the less of a filter I have so when I do get to be 110% me (which I try to be most times regardless) I tend to leave people with a lot of question marks. I guess I’m just an oddball but once you get comfortable with that fact you’ll realise I’m actually a very loving and lovable human being.
What has been the highlight of hosting Garage Gold?
Definitely the fact that the experience has been a big ‘break-free’ moment for me. I don’t think in my career I have taken myself very seriously primarily because a lot of the time I’ve been told how and what to think and say so to be able to be at a point where I’m really now doing it for me and taking some control has been really thrilling and exciting. Especially because it has allowed me to showcase a side of myself that not many people have been privy to and that is the part of me that love cars. So that overall, besides all the cool cars has been an incredible experience and highlight.
What do you love most about the automotive industry?
It’s bigger than people think it is. There are so many exciting facets and I love that there is something for everyone. Whether you’re a collector, love the classics, you love the racing aspect, spinning or the restorations, there is literally something for everyone. I love that about the industry. I also love that there is such a sense community around the industry. You could be a serious petrolhead or a beginner and you will find a place in this family of strangers who all have a different reason for being there. It’s kind of like being a part of the film ‘Suicide Squad’. You learn something new every day. There is always more to discover and marvel at and it never ends. You can’t not love cars. That’s just weird.
If you had to drive your dream car, what would that be and why?
Always a difficult one to answer because unlike most people I don’t have one dream car but I have a very long list of dream cars. If I were super rich, I would have three splurge priorities and that would be property, shoes and cars. On that list, in spite of what many may say, I still adore the Porsche Panamera GT (midnight blue with a cream white interior and custom stitching in the headrest), I do have a thing for supercars, I feel like you can’t go wrong with an Enzo but also I am very much in love with the Huracan right now. And then I also really love big cars like the Lumma Range Rover Sport. I could go on forever but for me I love a car that it all about comfort, luxury, speed and sex appeal.
Why did you decide to follow a career path in entertainment?
It’s in my blood. Since I was a kid. It’s the one thing that I can honestly say I have always just been able to do. I started like any other girl as a ballet dancer, had my first speech and drama class when I was about 10 years old. Was in my first theatre production when I was 13. Went to an art school. I’ve just always loved to entertain and I guess the path was just set from a very young age. My brain was just wired to follow suit.
Radio or TV. Which one truly has your heart and why?
That’s a tough one. I love them both for different reasons. Coming from a theatre background there is something I love about live radio and creating “the theatre of the mind” for my listeners. In the same breath I love that there is a different level of a connection that you can create and have with your audience through television. For me at least, I don’t know if you can just put the two in the same basket and pick one because they are both so different and require different parts of you as a performer.
What does a normal day look like for you?
In my life no day is ever the same. Some days are crazy busy, some are literally spent in bed. A typical day spent shooting on location, especially if I have to travel means I’m up pretty early itemising the day ahead while continuously going through a script. I day dream a lot in between that. Especially if I have to fly out, I like to create tiny scenarios in my head that make the travel feel like more of an adventure than it really is. Radio days are a lot less stressful, it’s a lot easier to just prep and you have a lot more control over anything that could and may happen through the show. And then there are a lot of admin days in between because being an entertainer doesn’t pay enough so I have to do several other jobs to afford all of my unnecessary spending habits.
How have you been keeping busy during the lockdown?
In the beginning I really did consider this a great time to just press pause but there is only so much of that my anxiety can handle. I have been fortunate to link up with a few people in my little black book and we are working on some exciting projects which I can’t wait to share with everyone.
What are three things you would still like to achieve in your career?
I would still love to get a starring role in a really good movie. I would love to voice an animation or a game and I would love to host a really big award show. But only once just so I can say I did it.
Who are your role models in life?
I have different role models for different aspects of my life. For example, my gran is a big role model in my life for her resilience and strength. She has overcome so much and is still able to stand strong as this powerhouse of an independent black woman. Obviously, Rihanna is on the list because I love that she moves to the beat of her own drum. Literally and figuratively. Her business acumen. I love that she does things her own way, has charted her own path, has her own goals and works at her own pace and still has the time to give back and be compassionate and have heart without wanting to make a noise about it. I look up to so many mothers who do everything they can everyday just to get by but also to give their children the lives they never had. Those are real role models too. And I look up to a lot of very successful businessmen and women and professionals that I have met and grown up around in my life.
What do you think makes a great TV and radio presenter?
I think when you stop trying to be a replica of someone else. I see and hear a lot of people doing the ‘Bonang’ and I immediately say to myself, there can only be one Bonang Matheba. Be yourself, be authentic, be real. Whether people appreciate it or not, eventually you will find your following. Copy and paste doesn’t work and even if it does, it’s very short lived because people are not stupid, they see through that BS. I’m not going to say passion because we can be passionate about things and not be very good at them so it’s a great quality to have but also be honest with yourself and steer your passion in the right direction. Always be open to learning and improving on your skills and what you think you know. Research. Listen to what others are doing right or wrong. Practice and be disciplined in what you’re doing. It’s not just a show up and wing it kind of job, you actually have to work.