Television personality, Claire Mawisa has partnered with her best friend Felicity Shiba to launch a new business. Mawisa posted a stunning front shot of themselves on social media announcing the news later last month. And she promised to provide us with more updates of their business soon. This year marks one of the finest miles-stones in Mawisa’s life. Born and bred in CapeTown, Claire Mawisa’s career in fashion and modelling launched at the tender age of 15. When she won the title of Cosmopolitan Model of the year. Then, the portfolio of her work continued to grow from strength to strength. With opportunities in television, radio and fashion industry opening. This year marks the 25th anniversary of a scenic route in Mawisa’s career.
From the rise of being a teen model to being a seasoned television personality and business women. Mawisa has been involved in creating a great brand which has inspired many of us. Mawisa shares parts of her journey and her wisdom.
Interview: Claire, you are a force in the broadcasting industry after 25 years of service, what is your secret to success?
Claire Mawisa: I think the secret to success is never taking anything for granted. And never thinking that you have ever arrived. Or that you have nothing new to learn. I have entered most of my working environments as the underestimated one. This has always pushed me to work harder than everyone else. To prove to myself that I am worthy and qualified. Also, I have never relied on my talent alone. It is important to be easy to work with, to be a pleasure in the workplace or with clients. And to be reliable and punctual. Soft skills like those will make people want to work with you again and again.
Mawisa unpacks the characteristics of a seasoned television host
Interview: What do you consider the important facets of being a seasoned television host?
Claire Mawisa: The most important facet is to try and be yourself, and not copy other great presenters that you may admire. Being a good television host is also understanding that you are just the vessel that brings the content to the viewers. And that you are not necessarily the entertainment yourself. Being a television host is not about the glamour, your favorite TV stars put in a lot of hours of rehearsing, researching, and putting guests/interviewees at ease. The hours are long, so mastering a positive attitude will stand you in good stead.
Interview: How do you achieve work-health balance?
Claire Mawisa: Women kill themselves trying to find the elusive work-health balance. I personally don’t think it exists. There are seasons where you pour yourself into your work and other seasons where it’s about family and self. My life has been consumed by work for a long time, but every once in a while, I make sure I take some time off. I reward myself with a trip away, or time away from work/family commitments. Society doesn’t view being selfish as a good thing, but it’s the only way I have survived.
“Fashion was the start of my career”
Interview: You have graced runways and glamorous magazine covers from the age of 15, does the fashion world still feel like a family to you?
Claire Mawisa: I worked in the fashion world for a very long time. And throughout that time I never felt like I was truly a part of it. I started modelling while I was at school, so school and friends were more important to me then. I never socialised with other models or people in the industry. It was always another world I visited for a few hours, then would come back to my reality of chores and homework. Even after leaving school, I didn’t feel like I fit in. I was always grateful for what it did for me and my career, but wasn’t sad to walk away from it.
Interview: Claire, you do a number of things including voice overs, television hosting, MC’ng, facilitating, public speaking and managing your soon to be launched business. Were these projects offered to you during your career or did you intentionally pursue and try and find as many new avenues as you could?
Mawisa: I believe we are all multifaceted. Each and every one of us wants to do many different things, and not just one thing for the rest of our lives. Most of my career decisions were a by-product of being on TV. When you’re on TV people automatically assume that you can do a lot of other things, like radio, public speaking, coaching, etc. When these opportunities presented themselves to me, I was open to them and recognised the growth opportunity. All of the different interests I’ve pursued have been linked to things I’m truly passionate about and interested in.
Interview: What are some traits you think great leaders in the broadcasting business possess?
Mawisa: The best trait that I’ve noticed in some of the great leaders in the broadcasting business is their genuine interest in the viewer. These leaders are people focused. Broadcasting giants have time for the people they broadcast to, they understand the viewer is the real boss. They spend time trying to understand what the viewer likes, who they are, where they’re based. What they would like to get from the platform and then they work out how to speak to them. Broadcasting leaders are not self-absorbed, they truly love giving the audience what they want.
Learning leadership in business
Interview: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career as a presenter, both in the radio and television industry?
Mawisa: Leading by example has been a powerful tool I’ve learnt in all the spaces I’ve worked in. I cannot expect my team members or colleagues to arrive at 5am if I am not there at 5am as well. I cannot expect something from them that I am not prepared to do myself. They must see me participate and do the work alongside them. So when I am not available to do it, or ask them to do it, they know that I’ve earned my stripes to delegate. As a leader I know that no work is beneath me.
Interview: Which qualifications have you pursued and has it influenced your career in broadcasting and modelling?
Mawisa: I have not pursued tertiary qualifications in media. Time spent working with Keith Pfeiffer, George Mazarakis, Greg Maloka, Glen Lewis, Neil Johnson and Bob Mabena helped. I also worked wih Kgomotso Moeketsi, Tbose Mokwele and Majota Khambule. They have all been my education. These are giants in the industry, and they have been generous with their time to teach me, guide me and correct me. And they gave me an opportunity to then rise to the challenge. I am as qualified as anyone else in radio and TV because of mentorship!
Career advise for females
Interview: Claire, you have vast experience from being a presenter and that is where a lot of us got introduced to you, when you were a presenter on SABC1. You did other gigs on Y FM, Metro FM and many other platforms. To being a fashion assistant on True Love magazine in 2002. And fast-forward to 2018 you are a host on Carte blanche. This is just a brief overview of your career over the years and does not touch on all your miles stones. With the above mentioned and all your other mile-stones in your career, what are some strategies you’ve learned? Things you feel can help women achieve success in their career?
Mawisa: Never be afraid to start again, or at the bottom. When I left one job to pursue another opportunity, I always had to start right at the bottom. Even after leaving at the top of my game in another space. Never think any opportunity or job is below you, or that you’re too good to do anything. There is a learning opportunity in everything you do. Stop worrying about what other people will say. They’ll talk anyway. You understand where you’re going and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Keep your head down, focus and do the hard work. Rewards and accolades come later.
Mawisa talks about self motivation
Interview: How do you keep yourself motivated?
Mawisa: Staying motivated can get difficult. We all go through slumps, me too! I use affirmations that I repeat out loud to myself. I listen to uplifting music and I find things to be grateful for. These things usually remind me how much I have and how blessed I am to be healthy and strong and be able to provide for my family.
Interview: For our last question, do you ever wake up and not know what to do?
Mawisa: I often not know what to do! There is so much pressure to always be on the go and know what the next move is. When I don’t know what to do, I just sit still and do nothing. Eventually something happens to push me to get moving or busy, and that gets me going in a certain direction.
Author: Elizabeth Kgabane