Saftas gong further shines Lerato Kganyago's flourishing TV career
TV and radio supernova Lerato Kganyago is still trying to come down to earth after her big win this past weekend at the South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas).
On a cool autumn day, she arrives for her interview with Time Out just 30 minutes after wrapping up her Metro FM radio show. When she takes off her over-sized Tom Ford shield sunglasses, I'm greeted by her radiant natural beauty - with barely a scrap of makeup.
She looks relaxed in a hooded military jacket and a simple pair of stonewashed jeans. Before I know it Kganyago is curled up on a sofa and we are chit-chatting the Tuesday afternoon away like a pair of old friends.
She is reminiscing about her triumphant weekend in Sun City, after her formidable win for Best TV Presenter at the Saftas. She scooped a Golden Horn for her work on SABC 1 music show Live Amp, beating the likes of Tumi Morake and Siv Ngesi.
"It still feels so unreal. I guess because it's my first Safta. Every time I go home and I see it right there next to the TV, I go: 'What's that?'," she gushes.
"You won't miss it if you walk into my place. It's just a reminder of how far I have come.
"It was such an emotional night for me. I think I took for granted the love people have for me. So, this was a sort of confirmation," says Kganyago.
Kganyago joined Live Amp co-star DJ Warras two years ago, succeeding the show's previous prolific female presenters. She's the first to admit that it was a lot of pressure to follow in the footsteps of Bonang Matheba, Pearl Thusi, Minnie Dlamini and Luthando "LootLove" Shosha.
"There was a lot of comparison which I hated. I remember having a meeting with my bosses and they said 'you just need to be yourself, that's why we hired you'. The rest is history," she recalls.
"Now, apparently, I dance a lot on the show because I'm so comfortable. The funny part is that I once fell, but it wasn't captured on camera. I was doing the vosho and I fell."
Throughout her illustrious career, Kganyago has proven to be quite the chameleon when it comes to choosing her high-profile presenting gigs. Her breakout gig was on Soweto TV's entertainment show Open Door Policy.
She went on to host The LKG Show, The Link, Moments South Africa and SABC Sports. She even had a much-publicised acting role on SABC2's Muvhango.
"One lesson I've learned in this industry is that every man is for himself and not everyone will love you. The higher you go, the lonely it gets. It's cold in here," she cautions.
"That's why in my Saftas speech I said: 'Le ge dira di ka ntlhoya, ke sa ja monono' [Even if my enemies hate me, I will flourish].
"It was something from deep down my heart because of the struggles I had to face over the years."
Her radio career didn't come easy either. Before joining Metro FM three years ago, she reveals that she tried for five years to break into radio. She credits her year-long stint as a contributor on DJ Hluks' show on Jozi FM as her boot camp.
For the last year, she has been heating up airwaves on Metro FM with Dineo Ranaka on weekdays on the show The Bridge.
"We are extremely supportive of one another when we are on-air," she says
"The feedback with us has always been that we have amazing chemistry - 'whether you are friends or not, you connect on air'."
The former Miss Soweto is the only child and was raised by her grandmother in Diepkloof, Soweto. Before the fame, she worked as a flight attendant after obtaining a travel and tourism diploma.
On the romance front, Kganyago says she is happily in a relationship.
"I have an amazing partner that I love wholeheartedly. He's not in the industry and he's older than me. He is very mature and extremely grounded" she shares.
"He lets me switch off from the noise of the industry. He makes my heart so happy."