Beyoncé? Twerked into the Earth!
Multi-talented musician Moonchild Sanelly (born Sanelisiwe Twisha) is South Africa’s latest proud export. She featured in Beyoncé’s 2020 Black Is King visual album along with 9 other South African creatives, including Moonchild’s pal, Her Majesty, Busiswa Gqulu – who now has her own reality series titled Her Majesty Busiswa on BET (DStv channel 124).
Moonchild herself had the last word in Black Is King, and she has the last word in every episode of her reality series Moonchild Sanelly WOZA. “Moonchild Sanelly WOZA is about liberation, liberation, liberation, and freedom. It’s about a black girl living her dream – a black girl being expressive and capitalising on what Nelson Mandela was in Robben Island for,” says Moonchild. “It’s about women owning their bodies. Secondly, it’s people who look different in society, owning their differences and knowing that they are special. They are the rainbows of this world. Liberation is also about people accepting themselves and loving themselves despite what the world says. I always say that if you don’t love yourself, no one is going to love you the way you deserve to be loved.”
Moonchild Sanelly WOZA takes us inside Moonchild’s frenetically creative life. She is making her own dreams come true like a genie with all the lamps. We’ll see her juggle everything from bagging a sweetheart, to parenting her kids, to creating her own lipstick, to launching her own lingerie line, to recording new tracks for an international project, to taking down a deadbeat dad like a lioness gutting an antelope.
It’s an inside look at a modern South African creative spirit, striking sparks off everyone around her, feeding on their energy in exchange for her own, to put more and more ideas out into the world. “I just respect people who can own up to who they are, proudly,” says Moonchild.
In her own words
We spoke to Moonchild about her very own show…
What does a typical episode look like?
Moonchild: I reveal my booty – a lot of it. So, you’ll be seeing a lot of that. You’ll see my family – that I hold near and dear, and I’m overprotective of them. I get viewers to understand where this liberation that I always talk about stems from. You’ll see why I don’t care about other people’s opinions.
Moonchild: The opportunity presented itself, and I grabbed it with both hands. I have been manifesting a reality show for a long time, and now is the perfect time as it’s a pivotal time in my global career. I want the South African audience to follow my career and see all the hard work that I put into everything that I do. I’d like for viewers to understand who and what I am. My brand continues to grow tremendously. I’d like to take South Africa on this wild adventure, and show people that a young woman singing in Xhonglish – a mixture of isiXhosa and English – can also make it big.
What was the process of getting the show on screen?
Moonchild: I was approached by the production company. It all started when a friend of mine, who worked for that production company years ago, suggested the idea of getting my own reality show. He had a glimpse of all my achievements, and he had a glimpse of all the hurdles that I’ve had to overcome to go after my dreams. He was interested in showing it to the public. Although he no longer works at the production company, he was still interested in getting the show on screen. When the production company called me, I agreed right away.
[I’m not filming the show] for fame – that has never been something that interests me. In WOZA, you get to see what I was going to live anyway. I just want to invite viewers into my colourful and bold world. You’ll see me chatting with my international celebrity friends on WhatsApp and joking around as friends. I also host local celebrities for dinners at my house. Those are real-life moments. I also write songs for musicians all over the world, I write jingles for ads, I live a fabulous life. I’ve managed to create friendships with plenty of musicians in various cities while touring. They aren’t just industry connections, but they are my mates.
I’m also taking viewers behind-the-scenes, while working on my new album – that I’m aiming at the Grammys for. I work with talented producers from around the globe like Diplo. It’s a fantastic ride. Diplo makes an appearance on the show, and we discuss the song that we’ve been working on over the phone. We’ve performed in Miami, Coachella and Los Angeles together. We were meant to film a music video last year in Los Angeles, but the pandemic interfered with our plans. As soon as the dust settles and it’s safe to travel, my team and I will be flying abroad to complete what Diplo and I have started.
What would you like women in particular to take away from watching your experiences?
Moonchild: That no matter what it is that you are given, you’re able to turn it into everything that could make you great. There’s no excuse, but there’s always reason to find something to make you win, and win, and win.
Did you have any fears before filming?
Moonchild: Not at all… I am my authentic self at all times, so that’s what viewers will see in WOZA.
And you’ll be discussing your relationship with your girlfriend, Gontse?
Moonchild: Yes. Gontse has always supported my career. In fact, she’s a part of my team. She has a good relationship with my kids and we work well together.
In the series you talk a little about leaving home at the age of 19…
Moonchild: I ran away from home at 19 because I had been sexually harassed and I had to run away and be safe. I was either going to end up in prison – and I’m too cute for prison – or I’d end up going for getting in the biggest magazine so I could finally name and shame. So it ended up being my inspiration to make sure I win when I did run.
What’s it like designing your own lingerie line after dropping out of fashion school?
Moonchild: When I dropped out, I dropped out on literally my final project at varsity and then I studied business of fashion after that, because I was already doing fashion in general. The lingerie line is not the first line I’ve ever done. Moonchild Cultwear has been there. For me to make music and get to the gigs as Moonchild Sanelly, Moonchild Cultwear dresses were the ones that were paying for me to build my profile. And now the roles have been reversed. Now my music pays for my fashion.
Why is the show worth the watch?
Moonchild: Because there are a lot of stars but only 1 Moon.
10 reasons to watch
1 Repping for body and sex positivity We see Moonchild create (with her own 2 hands) and model, her own line of lingerie. In episode 4, we find out that she’s coming up with new concepts and pieces for collections daily (and a useful discussion is had about how she can protect her intellectual property). She also shows us the effort that she puts into keeping her body the way she likes, with a behind the scenes look at a session with her personal trainer, Andile. And friends, Moonchild suffers! She sweats! She sulks! But she perseveres. We also see a pole dancing class that seems to be much more up her alley, even though it’s hard. In episode 5, Moonchild opens up about her desire to communicate both body and sex positivity. “I want to open a sex club because I have seen the safety, I have seen the confidence in there. Women are naked, no one is spanking them. You are free. In your body, in your shape, in your size, in your nakedness. And (I want to) introduce black people to sexual ownership, body positivity and safety,” she explains. Because as her friend, Mona Monyane, points out, the “sex talk” that she got from her family growing up was 1: don’t have sex, followed swiftly by 2: where are my grandchildren?
2 Moonchild is Wingman #1 We see Moonchild being both practical and ambitious when it comes to advising the youth on dating strategies. Want some advice? Moonchild warns not to date someone from your building even if you find them on Tinder (the dating app) because “the next thing they want sugar”. Respect those boundaries, always! Moonchild also believes you should date at your level for the most fun experience. If you’re a fiery young creative chasing success, the armchair sports fan who just wants to snooze at the weekend is probably not for you. And in episode 3, we see her even upload a video to her Insta calling for suitable dates for a sister in need (and thanks to a little advice from Gontse, no “private” photos will be welcome).
3 Girlfriend Gontse More Moonchild’s sun and stars is Gontse More, aka DJ Phatstoki. This photographer, director, artist and music lover not only chatters with and supports Moonchild throughout the series, she gives a knowing nod and wink to the camera now and then when Moonchild is being more OTT than usual and talking about the drunken fun they have. Relationship goals! But romance goals, well. In episode 4, we see Moonchild take Gontse on a picnic, which turns into an adorably funny business/relationship negotiation including NDAs and at least 3 hours of non-work-related date time per month. Gontse will take that deal, thanks.
4 The relationship Tea! Moonchild and Gontse open up in episode 6 about how they got together. Gontse admits to the all-too-relatable struggle after meeting Moonchild at the Durban July one year: Does this girl like me? Or like-me-like-me? After hanging out together until late into the night, Moonchild cleared that right up and let Gontse know that the vibes were mutual.
5 Gontse’s mom MaSheila MaSheila helped to nurse Moonchild back to health following her bout of Malaria in 2020, and the 2 seem to share a deep bond. This beautiful lady loves Moonchild for herself as a person, and her open acceptance of Moonchild and Gonste’s romance will give hope to all the LGBTQ+ babes out there watching, that families can make their own rules. Moonchild teases MaSheila that MaSheila should get married because Moonchild wants to meet her future father-in-law, too. And do you know who’s single? Moonchild’s dad. Oh, girls!
6 Cool Mom! Moonchild’s oldest daughter, Artemis Twisha, is at that age where no matter how famous Mommy is, and no matter how much you love her, she is the most embarrassing person. Moonchild gleefully teases about visiting her at school and Artemis pleads, “Can my first term of school be normal?” It’s hilarious, relatable and in the loving relationship between the 2 that we see on screen, it’s clear that there’s no disrespect from either side when Artemis pleads her case.
7 Parenting struggles Moonchild lets us inside the fraught world of having children with a man who dropped out of his responsibilities as a father. In episode 6, we see a confrontational dinner scene with her ex-boyfriend who’s the father of her twins (who’re turning 8 this year). Moonchild has been open on social media before about the catastrophic meltdown in their relationship, which saw them split 5 months after the twins’ birth. In this episode, she’s hoping that their meeting will help to settle her feelings on the matter. But when she goes in on him on behalf of single moms everywhere, he has no answers, and Moonchild lets a river of pain flow through her. There is no resolution. In the following scene, Moonchild takes us inside her meeting with her therapist in which she discusses how she really feels about that moment.
8 Something old, something new In Moonchild’s engagement negotiations, which we see throughout the season, Moonchild is adapting her culture and making her own rules. She jokes to MaSheila, “I don’t want lobola to go to my father because he’ll misuse it on golf. I’ll give it to you because you contributed, this is actually all my money because I raised it myself.” But she also very sincerely checks in with MaSheila about what aspects of tradition are important to her. When she flies the idea of a stripper-themed wedding past MaSheila, MaSheila comes up with a practical suggestion for how that might work with more conservative family members. “I had my wedding my way, so you have your wedding your way,” MaSheila says.
9 Going places Moonchild takes us to the most fun places in Jozi, from the Extreme bowling alley, to an escape room, to paint and sip art classes where you can paint a naked dude, to an adult shop where you can buy chocolate body paints – and they’re all so much more fun that you’d think because of that infectious Moonchild joyfulness.
It’s not all play. In episode 4, she takes us inside her meeting with fashion designer William, who’s putting on a mini-runway show just for his muse – and she reveals her social media tactics for making friends in high places. We go inside her meeting with Zanele of SDK Cosmetics to discuss making Moonchild lipstick. And she takes us inside her recording session with Josiah de Disciple, to work on a top-secret international project.
In episode 6, we drop in on a meeting with Moonchild’s girlfriend group to get a taste of how she refreshes her spirit. “We used to sleep on floors and now we are in first class,” she says proudly. And in episode 7 coming up on Monday, 26 April we’ll see Moonchild take a trip to Durban, and a new part of her rough journey down memory lane.
10: Finally, it’s Moonchild Haven’t you always wanted to know more?
Watch Moonchild Sanelly WOZA S1 on Mondays on MTV (DStv channel 130) at 21:30 and on Catch Up
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