Nicoleen’s journey from “not me” to victory


Maak My Famous S2 talent show winner singer Nicoleen Saal talks about her journey to that winning moment and what she’s doing now

21-year-old Nicoleen Saal from Ocean View in Cape Town looked radiant in her metallic green evening gown during the live finale of S2 of local talent show Maak My Famous on Saturday, 26 September. She sang her heart out in her own rendition of A Song For You by Donny Hathaway, and captured the attention of not only the audience, but also the viewers at home who voted for her in the top 2 position of the competition alongside rapper Reggie B.

Presenter and entertainer extraordinaire Emo Adams had to make the tough decision to choose the winner between these two immensely talented performers, and when he proclaimed Nicoleen as the winner, she was overwhelmed by emotion.

“While talking to you now, I am still in disbelief that I’ve won,” says Nicoleen. And to think, she almost didn’t enter the competition that handed her a once in a lifetime opportunity to become a professional singer.

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Ignoring fear & taking a chance

Nicoleen remembers how her family encouraged her on social media when the call to entry for S2 of Maak My Famous launched early this year. “They all wanted me to enter and I just ignored them at first,” she says. “I knew if I appeared on TV, my life wouldn’t be private anymore. I am not fond of attention and the spotlight, but later I decided to take some courage and not let fear get a hold of me, and I submitted a video of myself singing to the competition.”

In June when the top-10 contestants were announced just before the show went on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Nicoleen was sure that she wouldn’t make the cut. “I was convinced I was going to be sent home, because the contestants I was competing with were all so talented, and I didn’t know if I was enough,” admits the eventual winner. But in the end, she made it and with tears in Nicoleen’s eyes, she soldiered on!


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Overcoming challenges & forming a friendship

During her Maak My Famous journey, Nicoleen did have some challenges to overcome, such as her tone and articulation of the song lyrics. “Sometimes my accent got in the way or I sang too low, but with the help of the mentors (musos Alistair Izobell, Nur Abrahams, Charlton Daniels and choreographer Rushney Ferguson), I improved each week to where I am today.”

Rushney especially made an impression on Nicoleen as she went the extra mile to get the contestants to open up. “She urged us to be vulnerable, and also acted as a sounding board if we needed to vent, cry or just scream when the stress and the pressure got too much,” explains Nicoleen.

In addition, Nicoleen also formed a special friendship with contestant Daylin Sass, also a singer. “It’s quite ironic because he was my biggest competition, and he just became such a special person to me. His love and support throughout the competition truly carried me.”


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The winning moment

Nicoleen was in complete shock in that moment that she was announced as the winner. “I couldn’t believe it, and at the same time I was overjoyed,” she explains.

Thinking back, Nicoleen laughs as she remembers just before the announcement, she had a quick chat with Emo’s wife, Michelle Gildenhuys, backstage and commented how she finally tamed her hair: “I have been having problems with my hair throughout the competition to just stay put and keep its style. And now that I finally have it tamed, hopefully it will help me win the show,” she mused. And then to Nicoleen’s amazement, she won with not a hair out of place.

Currently Nicoleen is taking some well-deserved time to chill at home as she soaks in her victory, but it won’t last long. “I am an overthinker, and will quickly kick things into gear and get my career on track,” says Nicoleen. And with that confidence and willpower, there is nothing that will keep Maak My Famous S2’s winner from becoming a singing superstar.

Binge Maak My Famous S2 as a Box Set on Catch Up


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