We’re in the golden age of reality TV in South Africa right now. Of the 10 most-streamed local series on Showmax in 2019, four were reality shows: The Real Housewives of Johannesburg, Being Bonang, The Bachelor SA and Boer Soek ‘n Vrou. And when Somizi & Mohale: The Union launched on Showmax earlier this year, it broke the record for the most first-day views of any show ever on the platform.
Her vocal highness Kelly Khumalo is the latest celeb to allow South African audiences into her life, with Life With Kelly Khumalo, a Showmax Original, launching 6 August. Her show is being produced by BarLeader, the company behind Being Bonang, Somizi & Mohale: The Union, and 2020’s other breakout reality series, Kwa Mam’Mkhize.
A household name by 21, Kelly is one of South Africa’s biggest music stars, who’s been named Best Female Artist at the South African Music Awards, sold millions of albums, opened for Grammy winner Missy Elliott, and has over 1.7-million followers on Instagram alone.
But, in recent years, the singer has made headlines for more than just her undeniable talent, like her turbulent relationship with her son’s father, hip hop star Jub Jub; the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of her daughter’s father, Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa; and her recent “divorce” from her sister, Zandie.
There’s more to her story than her history, though. Life With Kelly Khumalo is an intimate glimpse at the woman behind the headlines: a single mother of two who is juggling parenting with the build-up to the release of not just her new album, Undithatha Kancinci, but also her first gin, appropriately titled Controversy - both threatened by South Africa’s unprecedented Covid-19 lockdown.
“Kelly is one of our most talented musicians,” says BarLeader founder Legend Manqele. “But the stories I kept hearing about her didn’t add up to me. My first approach was to do a music video for Kelly and work on re-branding her. However, when I sat down with her, I realised that she is a microcosm of the black single mother in this country.
“I then decided that I wanted to use the power of reality TV to tell her story as authentically as possible. Viewers can expect a very different side from this seemingly one-sided story about Kelly. They can expect a story of a woman who is still in the process of healing, a woman who is still in the process of making sense of all that has unravelled in the public eye.”
“I’ve never been a person to do things for people,” says Khumalo. “I’ve always been an authentic person. So this reality show is not so much about trying to explain myself or trying to win people over. I just want people to see me for who I am. All I can do is live my truth and let people be inspired by that.”
“I’ve seen how reality TV has worked for other talents like Bonang and Somizi, so I wondered what this project could do for Kelly,” says Mangele. “Life With Kelly Khumalo is about to prove that there is power in reality TV, that it’s not shallow and it’s not just about what you have but about who you are and what you can become.”
The first six episodes of Life With Kelly Khumalo will be available to binge on Showmax from Thursday, 6 August 2020, with the final seven episodes dropping 27 August 2020.