Meet Bonang Matheba: The First South African Ambassador For Revlon
Renowned television host, brand ambassador for Revlon, radio DJ, and social media maven, Bonang Matheba, is probably the greatest one-woman-show you’ll ever see.
We caught up with the South African beauty just as she finished hosting the Metro FM Music Awards to discuss everything from how social media changed her image to what it means to be the only woman outside of the US to be named a Revlon ambassador.
As the only woman outside of the US to be named a global ambassador and face of Revlon, have you always looked up to women like Halle Berry, who is also a part of the Revlon family?
Yes, I have always looked up to Halle, not just for her ageless beauty and grace, but her body of work too. When the call came from Revlon, I was beside myself with excitement. And not just for the nod, but the huge honor of being in the same beauty house as one of my idols, Halle Berry. She is one of the reasons I work tirelessly everyday to be a model spokeswoman for Revlon, as she has set the bar for all of us that have joined after her. Her long service with the brand alone is a huge motivation.
You’re one of the few women in the media representing African countries right now. What do you think is the most important quality to have for this role?
I have always been taught that there’s no greater knowledge than truly knowing yourself, as that allows you to step out with pride. As a Tswana girl (a South African tribe), your public responsibility extends more outside of yourself. You are always first a representation of your family, your community, your tribe, and the nation. I’m learning that I have to be the African representation for the global community. It fills me with pride, but it’s also scary at times.
Because now the focus is about so much more than just myself and even my country! It’s about the world.
How has social media become a part of your persona and image?
For any celebrity, no matter what part of the world or whether you’re on social media or not — your star power is affected and influenced by social media. I personally choose to use it as a research tool to gauge where I stand from the public’s perspective. I also like to see what level of influence I have with what I’m endorsing. Yes, at times it tends to be brutal, but you must hold your chin up and take both the positive and constructive criticisms in order to better yourself.
Do you think social media has been beneficial to women in your industry or more of an obstacle?
It’s a bit of both, really. It always boils down to your strength to overcome obstacles and just truly believing in your message.
I think so many women would want career advice from you, and probably ask how you balance so many roles and responsibilities. What kind of advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career path similar to yours?
Knowing and truly understanding what you are in this business for, and sticking to your beliefs. The balance is to always find time for yourself everyday. I always make sure that I have me-time at the beginning and the end of my day — the regular calls from my mom also help me stay centered.
Was there any particular career advice you were given early on that shaped you into the person you are now?
To never compete with anyone but myself, as looking over at what someone else is doing will distract me from my own path. Also, to know my weaknesses and when to say no to opportunities.
These terms seem to come with a lot of added pressure from the media, so what do you think is the biggest misconception about the terms ‘role model’ or ‘icon’?
People tend to base their entire lives or careers around role models and icons when all it means is that you have someone you admire that can help you create your own blueprint.
You’ve graced so many South African magazine covers, and you always look so sexy! Do you think women are starting to harness their sexuality as a strength rather than let the media tell them that sex appeal is shameful?
Women are coming into their own and taking charge of what messages are out there about them. We live in an age of Instagram where the everyday woman is able to dictate how the world views her. If sexy is what she is about, she can then portray that under her own terms.
What do you want to change about how African women are represented in the media?
The world needs to know that we are feminine just like the western woman! We care about our beauty and fashion, and have for centuries. The tribal facial paintings were about marking the stages of beauty in terms of age, so was the fashion.
I don’t think women get asked this enough, what do YOU think is your sexiest quality?
If you had asked me this in 2013, I would have waffled on about my smile, adventurous nature, personality, etc. But in 2014, my partnering with South Africa’s biggest retail store, Woolworths, for the Bonang For Distraction Lingerie line taught me to own my body as my sexiest asset.