From Local TV Stars To Media Moguls | 5 TV Stars Turned Media Entrepreneurs

The five people on this list rarely trend on Twitter but best believe they influence the decisions about what you see on your television screen. 

I have been in this industry for 13 years, in different capacities. In that time I have learned what influence in South African entertainment really mean. Contrary to what the current media would like you to believe, influence has nothing to do with how many Twitter followers you have.

The reality is that, while many so called "celebrities" only have the fame to show for their work but rarely have the means to support themselves financially — some young South Africans who have made a name for themselves by appearing on tv have leveraged that to build some impressive businesses for themselves within the same industry. 

These are the five most notable names of people who are known for being on tv but are now are responsible for creating content for the very same medium that opened doors for them. 

(in no particular order)

  • Pepsi Pokane

Pokane made his television debut at the of 14 and has remained one of the most prolific names in the industry, in front and behind the camera. While his good looks has endeared him to many tv viewers during his time on the screen, Pokane has continued to be force in shaping our television industry behind the scene. 

His experience infront of the camera — he has been involved in all genres of tv shows; Drama (Gazlam), to Satire (the Toasty Show), Lifestyle (Mamepe), Music (Afro Cafe), Reality (Nedbank Keyona) — led him to his current role of creating shows for others to star in. Pokane is currently a Managing Director at one of the country's most successful production companies, Bonngoe TV. 

Hic company produces shows such as The Link, Uzalo, Afro Cafe, and many others. 
  • Thapelo Mokoena

Mokoena made his debut as an actor while he was still in film school. His very first role was in the film Drum alongside Hollywood big player Taye Diggs. However, it was his role on Generations that catapulted Thapelo to being a household name in the industry as an actor. 

Since leaving Generations years ago, the actor has starred in a British show and now has turned to films to make his mark. He has since starred in a Hollywood film Long Walk To Freedom whilst also producing and starring in his own films such as Skyf and Nothing Fo Mahala.

Thapelo is also a co-founder and President of the Young Producers Forum as well as the founder of the Kasi Movie Nights mobile cinema and the Air Cinema Club.

Currrently, Thapelo can be seen on Kota Life Crisis on Mzansi Magic which he produced.

  • Vusi Zwane

Vusi's televsion debut came when he was just 13 years old. Since then has spent his life immersed in the world of broadcasting. He will however be always remebered by South Afruican tv fans as one of the SABC1 continuity presenters. 

After leaving SABC1 as a presenter, Vusi, who subsequently changed his famous last name from Twala to now Zion, has worked with a variety of broadcasters both as producer/creative director. He was a 50% parner and a Joint Managing Director at Engage Production company which produced Gospel Gold on SABC1 as well as other shows like Soccer 411 and Psalted.

He continues to work and produce shows under his company Vusion Media 
  • Makgano Mamabolo

Makgano Mamabolo is a South African actress, writer and businesswoman, best known for her role as Qondi in the television sitcom Mazinyo Dot Q.

Makgano is now a co-owner of  Puo Pha Productions. Her company has produced numerous shows on television including the hugely sucessful SABC1 drama, Society. 

Her company has produced over 26 made-for-tv films for etv. 

  • Thokozani Nkosi

Name a successful gospel/christian tv program in South Africa and chances are Thokozani Nkosi produced it. He may have started his career with a stint in film starring Elizabeth Hurley and Ice Cube but it is Yizo Yizo that introduced Thokozani to millions of South Africans. 

Whilest studying in Wits he continued to work in the industry as an actor and presenter as well as working behind the scenes. In 1999, after his four years at Wits, he began to work full time as a trainee producer and later as a Producer / Presenter of a religious TV show called “Crux”. 

In 2002 Thokozani started his own production company with his former employer Hanlie Kruger. They called their new company “Eclipse Television Productions”. Now eclipse boast credits on SABC and etv. 

Currently Nkosi  has expanded his business portfolio to marketing, advertising, PR and communications as a whole. This allowed him to build the TOXMEDIA group, a group of companies that co-operate to provide the above services for the corporate world and government at highly competitive rates.

One to watch: 

Janez Vermeiren

When he not taking of his shirt every chance he gets on any show on SABC3, Janez is proving to be one to lookout for in this business as an entrepreneur. Vermeiren has used his platform and relationship with SABC3 to start his television production company. Barely 2 years have gone by and his company Cheeky Media has already produced 2 shows for the channel. 

Cheeky Media is responsible for Man Cave, which the Top Billing presenter also presents and the well-produced but badly planned talkshow, Tongue in Cheek. 

Vermeiren may not have much experience in television production but it is through learning by making mistakes like Tongue In Cheek that this budding media mogul could become a major player in this business.

He is definitely one to watch... more TV stars who are forging careers as entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry include
  • Owen Swanson - owns Owen S Management, one of South Africa's biggest talent management Agency
  • Gugu Zuma - co-owns Stained Glass Pictures which produces Uzalo 
  • Letitia Masina - With 15 year experience in showbiz, she is a Managing Director at Bonngoe TV and produces Afro Cafe. 

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