Chit Chat: Vuyelwa Booi
Vuyelwa Booi, 7de Laan’s Alice, anchors SABC2’s consumer rights show Speak Out. But the 30-year-old says she’s much more gentle than the no-nonsense warrior she appears to be. Janine-Lee Gordon speaks to her
Is helping others something close to your heart?
Yes it is. I’ve always considered myself a humanitarian. I’m very compassionate and helping others is second nature to me.
Would you say that Speak Out is something you always wanted to do?
It was never something I actively pursued, because I’m an actress and that will always be my first love.
But when this opportunity came my way I knew I couldn’t let it pass by. Initially, I was a bit scared because I had to learn about investigative journalism and I hadn’t quite thought about that.
The show is a combination of current affairs and reality TV. Which aspect is more fascinating to you?
I really can’t say because realistically, confrontations can be very unpredictable.
You have no idea how things are going to pan out and that makes it very exciting. The adrenaline rush you get from that is totally different to being in front of the camera as an actor.
What’s the most challenging part of the job?
I, along with Duncan Senye as my co-host, had to fill some really big shoes.
Dosto Noge became the brand of the show and now we need to live up to that.
The other part was learning about investigative journalism, but it’s only been a thrill.
You seem to have a no-nonsense approach, even when acting. Has it worked for you during confrontations?
It’s actually strange, but I hate confrontations and fighting. I try to avoid it at all times. I am very stubborn though and I have a big mouth.
In a way it has helped me not to allow others to take me for granted. Other times it makes people think I’m unapproachable.
Are there any funny or dangerous situations you have encountered so far?
It’s always dangerous when people are not expecting a camera crew to show up.
At times people try to be defensive, but they also enjoy the idea of being on TV so they do or say silly things. I have to keep a straight face and it gets really difficult when I hear my crew giggling behind me.
We have a bodyguard by the name of Breaker. It took a while to get used to him, but I definitely feel a lot safer when he’s around.
Do you laugh it off when other people find it strange that you speak Afrikaans fluently?
I’ve become used to it. People are more shocked when I switch to the vernacular because they see me speak Afrikaans on TV most of the time.
I grew up in a diverse family where everyone spoke English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans all the time.
Do you find yourself being approached by the public asking for help?
All the time! But I try and explain to people who they need to contact and that there are channels they need to follow.
It’s the one part of the job I didn’t think about, but it has certainly humbled me.
You’ve been singing since a young age. Do you harbour any intentions of recording your own album?
I used to sing long before I started acting and I once tried to pursue a singing career, but it didn’t work out.
There’s no way I would ever want to go through that kind of stress and turmoil again.
Is Alice ever going back to 7de Laan or is she a closed chapter in your life?
Sadly, she’s not returning. But South Africa will always know me as Alice first, then Vuyelwa.
I was on holiday in Mossel Bay and because the place is very small, everyone knew Alice was in town.
Even when I was out with friends people would come up to me, scold me saying: ‘What will Mandla say?’.
How did you feel when you heard Alice’s role was going to end?
I was terrified because I had nothing planned. But God’s timing is always perfect and just as I was finishing up the show, Speak Out came along.
What do you do when you’re not working?
When I’m not spending time with loved ones or running errands, I love reading books.
I’m very boring, I don’t like going out to events and having to dress up. I like to stay at home in my pyjamas in front of the TV.
Is there anything you still want to achieve?
I want to go back to the United States to work and study.
I was there for a year through a sponsor, but my film acting studies fell through. I believe it’s a journey in my life I need to complete.
What’s the most important thing you have learnt about yourself since doing Speak Out?
I’m more headstrong than I thought I was.
And I didn’t know I had this ability to challenge myself.
I’ve grown so much and I’m very proud of myself.