Name: Rosie Tebogo Motene
Business: Waka Talent Agency
City, Country: South Africa and Uganda
Website URL: https://www.wakaagency.biz/
Rosie Motene has been been in the entertainment industry for over two decades now. She started as a TV presenter and actress and over the years, trained and worked herself up to producing. With her work through Studio 53 on Mnet Africa, she had the opportunity to explore the continent and saw that there was a gap for representation. And thus began Waka Agency, a pan-African talent agency, representing some of the continent’s top talent in TV presenting, acting, emcee, brand ambassadorship and voice over work. Waka has clients in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, DRC, Angola and Liberia. If inter-country voice overs are need, the agency has reputable recording studios in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
Rosie has a Bachelor of Arts in dramatic art from University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and producer training through Mnet-in house. Apart from her business, Rosie has been an activist for women and children for over 15 years. She began with training through www.powa.co.za and became a training and public awareness volunteer. In 2007, she was appointed to the board and in 2010 became the deputy chairperson, a position she still holds. She has been involved in other charities such as Childline.or.za where she sat as chairperson for over six years.
“Creating awareness on women and child abuse is something very close to my heart, this has led me to joining various global campaigns such as the V-day movement and the one billion rising campaign, started by Eve Ensler. I participated in the Vagina Monologues performances through SA and, in 2014, I staged a benefit performance in Johannesburg where we raised over R20 000 for www.powa.co.za. I have recently patterned with www.princeddmenstrualcup.com and plan to distribute the product across Africa, thus keeping more girls in school.
Rosie shared some of her journey with She Inspires Her:
My mother was domestic worker for a white Jewish family in SA during apartheid. My father was a petrol attendant at BP. On my birth, my mother’s employers took it upon themselves to raise me. This was a huge sacrifice to my parents. I was awarded the fantastic opportunity of receiving private school education and exposure to another world. However, with that brought many challenges of identity crisis. That is something that I tackled through to my 30’s. Growing up, I hated being black and struggled with my heritage and culture. I made the brave move in my late 30’s to move to Phokeng, Rustenburg and discover who I am and where I come from. The best decision of my life, as I had the opportunity of establish a solid relationship with my biological father, before he passed away. I strengthened my relationship with my mum and my older sister. I learnt that family provides unconditional love and support.
A turning point in my career was the first motivational talk I gave on abuse at JHB male prison. Afterward en route to SABC studios, I realized then that I needed to do more with my life and should use my voice more. I also realized that my time at Generations was over. I resigned that day.
After I left, I was hired as a field reporter on STUDIO 53, a lifestyle magazine show that looked at the food, tradition and cultures of Africa. Later on I was promoted to the in studio co-host and then I trained as a content director and producer. It was on those assignments that I got to explore and experience our phenomenal continent. I saw and felt the powerful talent and dedication to the craft, arts and connection to culture. I would often meet artists and actors who asked me to look over their contracts or get advice on how the industry works, after a few years of working pro bono as I loved it so much, I decided to make it my career. I then began to think of a name for the agency. I wanted a name that would link to the ethos of the agency and my passion for the arts but that it would be pronounced the same in most languages and easy to say. I went to Mr. Google and searched: Shine, sparkle, talent, pride and passion. These are all the ethos of my work and agency. I searched in many different languages spoken on the continent and Waka, in Swahili kept coming up. The direct translation is Shine in Swahili but the deeper meaning is as follows, when a fire is burning and crackling and those tiny fast sparks or flames that shoot into the air, that’s what’s known as WAKA. Waka was born and all my talent are shinning stars.
Waka is entirely self-funded. I worked from home then I discovered The Johannesburg Hub and became a member for many years. I started with the TV presenters and radio personalities that I worked with a Studio 53. As I had been known for traveling the continent, I started to get calls from PR and advertising companies requesting voices that could sound West of East African, I was able to provide them with the authentic ones. I based the rates on South African rates.
One of my greatest surprises was when I began to get calls from some of Africa’s most revered talent asking me to represent them; it was then that I was able to expand to beyond my studio 53 family.
The best advice I’ve been given? I’ve got three tidbits for you!
- Ronnie Apteker, South African internet pioneer, writer and film producer: “When you need money, ask for advice, when you need advice, ask for money.”
- Dr Olaolu Mudasiru, trained medical doctor, investment banker, philanthropist and my mentor (I’m paraphrasing). “You are a warrior not a worrier… Stop letting the enemy fuel you with fear. Don’t let a bad break name your future; don’t let a disadvantage cause you to settle for mediocrity.”
- Freda Isingoma Owner and founder of Eyecandy Brows: “Do not let these people get to you, do not shed the same tears that you did at your father’s funeral, they are not worth it.”
And my best advice? Oh I’ve got lots!
- All entrepreneurs fear failure and that knowledge is learnt.
- Risks are necessary.
- Corporate sexism is very real.
- Be careful who you partner with, believe in your dreams and read as much as you can.
- Remember every big corporation started somewhere, do not be scared to humble yourself, change your lifestyle to support your dreams.
- Entrepreneurship is not about sitting at coffee shops with your MacBook and taking selfies. It takes long hours, waking up at crazy hours of night when you get a great idea. It is about shielding the skeptics who try and undermine your work and journey. Being innovative takes work, but also remember if it’s an industry that has been dominated by a few, many do not want to see change and will try and bring you down, undermine you or even go as far as to accuse you of not submitting your work correctly. Always cross check yourself.
- Celebrate and look after yourself. Reward yourself after hard work or victory. Our bodies tell us when we are overworking, listen to the signs.
- Support other female entrepreneurs as much as you can. You will be surprised what a simple call or post letting them know that they are doing great, can do. We’ve been failing in our support of each other. In many instances, it has been women who have tried to sabotage a project or close me down.
Finally, I really believe in giving thanks where it is needed, there have been many women along my journey who have helped me and I believe they should be mentioned:
- Lisa Modisane from Legends casting agency. Gave me the insight into running my own agency, contacts and belief. As another agent, she was not threatened by me opening an agency but rather supportive. To date I have cast many of her talent in my projects and have referred talent to her.
- Erika Kloppers from Multichoice, she awarded me my first Pan African casting contract, I did the Ghana and Kenya casting for the MNET soapie Tinsel.
- Bridget Pickering from Fireworx media, with whom I’ve worked closely on a number of projects: ETV Kasi stories, season 1 and 2; SABC Shakespeare stories; Sabc3 Endgame; SABC sticks and stones; The feature: Chemo club.
- Freda Isingoma from Eyecandy Brows, gave me a space for casting and admin to work. And unconditional support.
For women interested in working in her industry, Rosie offers some specific recommendations.
There is not much mentoring so find many avenues to learn the craft. Know your worth when entering and do not settle for less. Unfortunately, I have discovered that many of the male colleagues who have less experience and education earn a lot more than me. We have a long way to go but we will get there.
For the actors, both male and female, remember you are a brand so you have every right to scrutinize a contract or deal. If taking off your clothes is not a necessity and you are not comfortable or happy with doing so, don’t do it. I left a lucrative contract based on that, my then agent had the audacity to say that if I speak too much, they won’t want to work with me again. I said great, I don’t want to work with people who are not respecting my decisions. Don’t let money override your better judgment.
To produces and directors: Respect actor’s decisions. If you want better ratings, write brilliant scripts, don’t force nudity.