Journalist, pop star, “kwaai diva”Date Released: Mon, 7 October 2013 12:14 +0200
By Annetjie van Wynegaard
“My pop alter ego is Umlilo, a sort of delinquent, space age, booty popping, flame throwing kwaai diva. My style is a potjie of many different influences that range from queer culture, street wise township flavour with a touch of afro-futurism and large doses of pop culture. I can’t even predict what Umlilo will do next, it’s all very weather dependant.”
Journalist, pop star, “kwaai diva” – Siya Ngcobo, or Umlilo to his adoring fans, is one of a kind. He has a BA degree in Journalism and Media Studies and Drama from Rhodes University, and he specialised in television journalism. As a student Siya was an active member of Rhodes Music Radio and student publication Activate.
“Everything I learned at Rhodes has taught me to become a multi-faceted creative,” he said. “I get to toggle between different forms of media on a regular basis in my career.” Today Siya has an entertainment radio segment on 2Oceans with JustJosie and writes features for digital entertainment portal, Entertainment Africa. Oh yes, and he has a successful music career.
“I can easily say that Rhodes was one of the best periods of my life because it allowed me the space and time to grow into whoever I envisioned myself to be,” said Siya, “but complete with the existential crisis that comes with that sort of formative growth professionally and personally.” Television lecturer Alette Schoon is a mentor figure in his life. “She has been a constant supporter, always encouraging when it comes to a lot of my endeavours, no matter how ludicrous they’ve been.”
His future plans are to build and sustain a credible and critically acclaimed career. “I’d like to be happy and enrich people’s lives in whatever way, but also remain constantly curious, excited and aroused by the world so I’m able to make work that reflects that.”
His advice to students: “The future is unpredictable, which is both empowering and scary, thicken that skin.”
Photographs supplied by Siya Ngcobo.