After 25 years in the entertainment industry, Letoya Makhene shows no signs of slowing down.
The lovely 34-year-old Generations: The Legacy actress, TV personality and singer looked bubbly as ever when we met her between shoots at the SABC Henley Studio.
We had to steal her for a quick interview in between scenes. She came in wearing a powder-blue robe and flops, with her dreadlocks down and a beautifully done face beat.
She says she can’t believe it’s been 25 years since she started in the industry.
“I nearly choked when I counted and got to 25 years. I wanted to cry because I was so happy. I am so grateful, I am actually overwhelmed. Having seen people who I grew up with just struggle to make a comeback, I am humbled. I feel like God has just loved me,” she says emotionally.
Her journey started as a nine-year-old doing television commercials. She then joined KTV as a presenter and became part of what was called The Rainbow Starship on SABC1, now known as YoTV.
At age 11 she became an anchor for the Disney-UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Children’s Summit.
Makhene revealed that she has accomplished 90% of the things she wanted as a child.
Speaking about the challenges she encountered along her career, she said: “There is no actor who can tell you that they have never been turned down – that is part of the process. From all the jobs that I have got, I can promise you that I have probably not got more jobs than the ones I have got,” she said.
She had to take a break from the industry to go to an initiation school to become a sangoma.
“I was really sick. After western doctors couldn’t figure out what is wrong with me, my parents went the traditional route. She said I had a calling and I had to go for initiation. I was a little confused, but I said if that’s all I needed to do to get well then I would do it.”
Makhene’s big break was at Isidingo, where she spent two and a half years.
The mother of four feels blessed.
“Everything that I am today, the platform that I am at, for me it is God-given. Every day I wake up I am grateful because God decided that I will take another breath today. I live in gratitude for the roof over our heads and the food on our table,” she said.
She spoke highly of her parents, Blondie and Agnes, whom she says she owes her success to because they supported her from day one.
“It begins with my parents, it ends with them. They plugged me. Besides God and the ancestors, it is my parents.”
A survivor of an abusive relationship, Makhene plans to open a Letoya Makhene Foundation, through which to assist women and children.
“I want to be a person that other women look at and say ‘if she could do it, I can do it too’.”
She says the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign should be an everyday thing, not just for a few days.
She says she has moved on from that abusive relationship.
“I have healed so much. I had to forgive him because forgiveness is about healing. When you have managed to forgive the next person for doing you wrong, you take your power back. Forgiveness puts you at peace with yourself.”
The songstress plans to release a music video for her single, Qinisela. She is also working on her album, which she plans on releasing next year through her own label, Makhene M Productions.