Tilo interviews diva Kelly Khumalo

Tilo interviews diva Kelly Khumalo

By Tilo ngwana Rahaka
Weeks after Kelly Khumalo was crowned the Best female artist at the annual 19th South African Music Awards (SAMA), I was scheduled to interview her. I was even surprised she agreed to be on the cover page of our newly established magazine, The Bold magazine. When my former editor-in-chief, Lori van der Merwe told me that I will be interviewing Kelly Khumalo I was shaken. It was going to me my first time conducting a professional journalistic interview and the first celebrity I get to interview is Kelly Khumalo. Amateur interviewing a diva, wow! What a nice receipt for absolute disaster. A lot of things, good and bad, have been said about her. But one element about her that is frequently talked about in the media is that she’s a diva. Instead of rejoicing that I will be interviewing one of the most prominent female singers is the country, I was, on the other hand, worried about her diva tendencies. Some people have claimed that Kelly can pull a prima donna stunt and walk away in the middle of an interview. Not forgetting that she’s earned herself the title of being the Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee of the entertainment industry, I was scared that I would say things that might offend her. Okay, let me first tell you how things are done in our magazine, I write my own script, send it to Lori for editing and approval, and once she has made all the necessary changes to the script, she then send it back to me for rehearsal. But the problem with Kelly’s interview was that I was going to co-host it with the founder of the magazine, Shatadi Matlou. I was going to take the first part, ask kelly about her upbringing and her musical career up until her recent SAMA achievement. Shatadi was going to conclude by asking her about motherhood. When I was framing my questions, I was very careful of the kind of questions that I wanted to ask her. I didn’t want to say things that will upset the diva.

Because I was home in Limpopo for the June school holidays, I had to cut short my holidays and forgo seeing my mom’s cows and goats going for grazing every morning by returning back to Johannesburg to meet Kelly on a Sunday. On the day of the interview, I took a taxi to Melrose Arch, African Pride Hotel, that’s where the interview was going to be held.

Still, I was not feeling free. I wanted the interview to be done. The thought of interviewing Kelly Khumalo sent shivers down my spine. I wished it was someone else. Maybe Tsholofelo Monedi, Lilian Dube, Tshedi Mholo, Jerry Phele, Nthabiseng Tau and I also heard Zinande Mfenyane who plays Noluntu on Generations is such a humbled person to interview, as long as is was not Kelly Khumalo.

But anyway, cold feet or no cold feet, I had to get the job done. Not surprising, Kelly was running late for the interview. But for me it was good news because she allowed me time to get over my nerves. In fact, at one point I wished for her not to show up, that’s how nervous I was about interviewing her. But can you blame me especially after everything bad that have been said about her?

Finally, Kelly Khumalo pitched up. She was wearing a grey dress and scotched blue and white Reebok sneakers. OUCH! My real nightmare has just started, I thought to myself.

Contrary to what I expected, Kelly appeared all bubbly and nice to us from the minute she walked until she was ushered to her seat. Still recovering from internal shock, I couldn’t believe is Kelly Khumalo, the diva of the entertainment industry.

Her humbleness and calm personality helped me overcome my fear. She didn’t want to be treated like a celebrity. In fact, she answered all the questions I asked her and we even shared jokes in between the interview.



After feeling much comfortable around her, I started asking her ‘tough’ questions that were not even scripted. I asked her about the break away from her former manager, Sarah Setlaelo and that when she won the award she didn’t even mention Sarah in the speech. I also asked her about her alleged Diva tendency at the SAMA’s. A word of mouth has it that after the event, Kelly was mean to the journalists and did not want to be interviewed. And to these questions again, in a subtle manner, she gave me the answers.



I’m not running a positive publicity stunt for Kelly but I will be lying if I say Kelly appeared mean and rude to me. I cannot speak for my colleagues but for me she was nice.

But despite being nice to me, she issued a stern warning: “there is another side of me you would not want to see.” I guess Mandisa Meyiwa and Khanyi Mbau know what she’s talking about.

I only met Kelly for two to three hours before she left for the airport hence I don’t know much about her but I think the allegation of Kelly being arrogance, intolerance and epitomizing diva antics is exaggerated in the media. I’m not saying she is or she’s not, but I feel like often than not the media is negatively biased towards her.

I’m also not sure about bleaching her skin for R30 as one of the weekly leading magazines claims, but when I met her in June, she appeared lighter than she normally was. Here I’m not confirming or disputing the “she bleached” or “no, didn’t bleach” sermons, I’m just saying she was much lighter.

Overall, the Kelly Khumalo interview was a good one and it challenged me as a journalist. If asked I still want to do it again, rest assured the answer would be a quick yes and this time I’m a little bit matured and even the confident level is starting to reach its peak.

No doubt and questions about her singing and dancing talent, but hey, beware of varam klap!



Published: Monday, 30 September 2013


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