These young SA women to watch are making a name for themselves as the next generation of South African creatives
Being a creative in a world where most people are aiming at a career in IT or trying to raise the bar as attorneys is nothing short of inspiring, in the best sense of the word. These five trailblazers all do vastly different things but they operate on a similar frequency – with a shared sense of passion and purpose for creating. It’s the kind of contagious energy that goes beyond the “what” and transcends into fulfilling the “why” of it all.
Sió, Courtnaé Paul, Buhle Ngaba, Danielle Clough, Lindy Johnson… take note of these names.
Sió – The singer
When Sió performs you can expect to hear stories across a wide range of genres. Whether her lyrics are set to soul, house or electronic music there are stories to be heard and she does an incredible job of telling them, using the tone in her voice, the lyrics she writes and the beats that accompany it all.
She has a jazzy, soulful voice and her performances are captivating, leaving you with a sense of optimism and general proclivity to believe in magic. Sió considers her singing career her calling, and we have to agree.
If 2018 is anything to go by, 2019 is going to be an incredible year for the talented singer. She performed across multiple genres at festivals including the Red Bull Music Stage at Oppikoppi and the Afropunk Fest Battle of the Bands in Joburg. She’s also been working on her first album, which fans are eagerly awaiting to get their hands on.
“I want to leave great songs behind – the kind that have stories anyone from anywhere can sing to, relate and connect with – regardless of the kind of genre they prefer.” – Sió
Courtnaé Paul – The dancer
How does she do it all? This powerhouse is a dancer, choreographer, creative director and business owner – and on top of that she’s got a great sense of humour. Courtnaé is the poster child for dedication, discipline and hard work.
Part of what makes her such a delightful person to work with and be around is her positive attitude – not that it is skewed to the river deep and mountain high of it all – but because it is so realistic and refreshing. She’s somebody who knows how to get on with it, whether that be on the dancefloor or just generally in life. Courtnaé has performed locally, globally and more recently across the continent. In the next year, expect to witness her presence grow across Africa.
“I’m all about purpose and living sustainably and independently, and also living a responsible life. I couldn’t perform, even just physically, as a dancer if I had no control over my body or mind.” – Courtnaé Paul
Buhle Ngaba – The actor
Buhle is an award-winning writer and actor with a passion for storytelling. She sees the potential for global activism through narratives, specifically in the interests of women and children. Her career really took off after her performance in John Kani’s play Missing, which toured internationally for more than two years, earning Buhle nominations for the 2015 Best Supporting Actress at both the Fleur du Cap and Naledi Theatre Awards.
If that’s not enough, Buhle’s sense of social consciousness lead to her co-founding the non-profit organisation KaMatla and writing The Girl Without A Sound. Her work is geared towards promoting diversity in children’s literature and supporting the development of arts in underprivileged communities. She’s proud of her determination and decision to stay committed to the potential of creating magic in what can sometimes be a dark world.
Admittedly, she’s always been a bit of a dreamer but has found that her dreams continue to expand exponentially when anchored to clearly set out goals. Her insistence on kindness, in life and in business, adds to the sincerity of the approach she takes to crafting and refining the future of storytelling.
“I think that the quest for true representation in art or mainstream media is (as it should be) the premise of what the future will look like. The voices and stories of those who were previously silenced by historical, economic or political structures will be heard and that is such an exciting and beautiful prospect.” – Buhle Ngaba
Danielle Clough – The artist
Danielle’s vibrant pieces have been her claim to fame. From fabric to shoes, old tennis rackets to scrap metal and more – there are very few things this full-time embroiderer won’t add thread and wool to, provided she can get a needle through it.
She has a compulsion to create and is most inspired by doing things outside of her routine; by looking at things that she can be resourceful with – new tools, colours or materials. Her ideas are brought to life with a flash of inspiration that becomes tangible – she creates things with which people can engage.
While her experience across disciplines has added to her embroidery style, Danielle has always loved fabric, which made it a natural and comfortable medium. She studied art direction and graphic design and has had a wide variety of jobs, but attributes her career in embroidery and as an artisan to a sequence of opportunities and mistakes. In hindsight, she has realised that nothing she’s done has gone to waste, and everything has organically pieced together her career.
“I have never thought about what I’d like my legacy to be, but when I have been told that my work has motivated someone to try embroidery, or pursue a hobby, it is really powerful. I think, in this attention economy, where we are saturated with content, to have a positive impact on someone is incredible. I couldn’t ask for more than that.” – Danielle Clough
Lindy Johnson – The stand-up comic
For someone whose favourite thing in the world is laughter, a career as a comedian makes perfect sense. Lindy effortlessly keeps her audience in stitches, the most fulfilling reward for a comedy pro.
Lindy has always been a massive fan of stand-up comedy and grabbed the opportunity to give it a shot by entering a talent competition at university. She figured it was worth a go… and she was right! In 2017, Lindy won the Savanna “Show us Your Apples” Open Mic Showdown and she’s been hurtling forward ever since. She’s making her mark on the South African comedy scene in a big way. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out Trevor Noah Presents NationWild on Showmax for a taste of Lindy in action.
“I don’t want to just occupy this space as a marginalised body. I want to actively make it a better and easier space for more women of colour to join.” – Lindy Johnson