Somewhere in your memories’ museum is an image of you coming home after school and turning on the tv to be greeted by this effervescent personality.
Many years since that first appearance Khotso Rams is now a growing household name whose natural familiarity is most recognisable in his ‘Dumelang Dumelang’ greeting whose delivery goes beyond a simple hello, but gives you the impression that he might also be inviting you to be his new best friend. 702 listeners will know his voice as the entertainment news reporter who always made it easy for us to remain young and relevant without needing to decipher the world of Twitter.
You may also recognize him as being among those that shared his audition video for SABC 3’s Presenter Search on 3: Expresso Edition, where his quick ascent to the top 15 of the competition reminded us that dreams and determination with a decadent dollop of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent can take us to places far beyond the uncertainty of our orgins. Previdar caught up with him recently where he discussed life as TV’s new kid on the block.
First of all, South Africa wants to know what inspired the greeting on Moja Love Traditional Wedding show?
“Dumelang Dumelang is a greeting I use in my everyday capacity. Whether in a taxi or on the street, it’s genuinely a part of who I am. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was being received so well by viewers and fans of the channel.”
Second of all; you’re wearing sunglasses by Vision Works Optometrists, aren’t these just best designer frames you can ever wear?
“Vision Works designer sunnies are the best, these particular ones I’m wearing are incredibly comfortable. You wear them during the day and they transition into the night really well too. Nothing is more satisfying than getting better sight…”
Let’s talk about your voice, have you always had the voice?
“I’ve always had this voice and I’ve always enjoying playing with my voice – taking it from Barry Manaloe deep to a Tweety the bird squeak. But I quickly learned that the best sounding version of your voice, lies in your diaphragm. We all have it. It’s all about breathing.”
Has it always being the dream of yours to become a TV presenter?
“I always pursue and act on my interests. So at the age of 15, when the bug bit, I picked up the phone, called Urban Brew Studios and got myself a meeting with the producers of Yotv’s Wildroom. I started off as a “caller count kid” and later became a frequent guest Presenter on the show, until I was about 18 years old. But the dream was birthed then.”
How did this opportunity come by? Did it come dressed in overalls?
“In 2017, a year before Moja Love was launched on Dstv, I was considered as a presenter for the channel but at the time, they had no show in mind for me. In December 2018, I was asked to come in to do a screen test for a new show. Two days later, I began shooting for Traditional Wedding.”
Your love for the arts goes all the way back, briefly take us all the way to when it all started?
“I’ve always been surrounded by the arts. My father comes from a musical family, he and his brothers formed their own band. As a voice over artist, we’d often hear his voice in tv commercials and the radio. Our family doctor was Dr. Mhinga, Yvonne Chaka Chana’s husband. Our neighbour was football legend Linda Buthelezi. Dynamite Diepkloof Dudes was filmed down the road from my street. My mother was often mistaken for Felicia Mabuza Suttle. It wasn’t up until a chance encounter to audition for my primary schools first theatre production that I realised I love the all aspects and creativity of the arts. I love creating spaces where people feel acknowledged, celebrated and validated just for being themselves. Whether it’s through my love for interior design, which I studied, or through my content contribution or through television – that’s something that will always be the common thread in all the works I do.”
Has landing the opportunity to be a presenter for the Tradition Wedding show changed your perception about presenting?
“It has changed my whole understanding of presenting. At first, I thought it was all about being your most extra self on screen. There’s a certain level of vulnerability involved, because it’s more about presenting yourself as honest, authentic and truthful as possible – especially with a show of that nature.”
Have you ever thought of being a radio presenter as well?
“I’ve always believed that the best tv presenters are those that have a radio presenting background. I’ve always dreamt of hosting a late night radio show that helps listeners anonymously talk about the things that keep them up at night. That’s the type of space I’d like to occupy on radio at the moment, which will in turn help me fine tune my tv presenting even more.”
Everywhere you go people are ecstatic to see you, why do you think people are drawn towards you?
“I genuinely have a passion for people. The show has allowed me to explore this passion on a large scale, through celebrating love in its vast incarnations: intimate or romantic, family and friends etc. People connect with my genuine thirst for learning about the vibrant traditional and cultural aspects of African weddings. I respect them as much as I enjoy learning about them, that’s what people connect with.”
What went through your mind the very first time you saw yourself on television, a full hour show?
“The first three episodes came with a number of mixed reviews from audiences, up until they aired two back to back episodes – that’s when my whole life changed. And that’s when I cried for the first time since landing this life changing gig. It felt like a dream come true!”
How has the response being like since the show, online and in a physical space when people meet you?
“The response has been unimaginably positive. Fans of the show, whether online or in person, do one of two things: they either say “Dumelang Dumelang le bitso la ke Khotso Rams” or they sing the theme song to my face. I’m starting to notice that straight men, especially, enjoy mimicking my gestures when they see me.”
You’ve had the opportunity to travel various provinces in South Africa, what are your experiences meeting different people from various cultures?
“There’s a misconception that straight men are the bearers of toxic masculinity, which is completely incorrect. Having travelled rural South Africa, I have noticed that it’s sometimes the female elders that reinforce the beliefs of what a “real man” is supposed to be like, behave and so forth. I’ve only ever experienced homophobia once and it surprisingly came from the female elders of that particular family. I found that to be quite interesting.”
What people don’t know is that you were going through an extremely difficult time in your personal life during the production of this show.
“That’s very true, I was facing some personal family difficulties. But what kept me going was my genuine love for what I do. I’m not only passionate about being a broadcaster, but I’m very determined to be amongst the best of the best in this field. That determination coupled with my unwavering willingness to learn, helped me move with conviction and intention.”
What did your family have to say when they first saw you?
“They’ve all known this is something I’ve wanted to do since my teenage years. They were so thrilled that I finally got the opportunity to do this. My family, especially my mother and sister, are my biggest cheerleaders and teachers. I know they couldn’t be more happier for me.”
Being unapologetically gay in a homophobic industry such as South Africa, how are you navigating the space?
There have been many people to have come before me that have helped carve out a space for me. What’s great about a show like “traditional wedding” is that audiences get the chance to experience me on a human level first and my sexuality is only secondary. To me, that’s major progress. I definitely think there’s space for everyone, but it starts with you being incredibly comfortable and authentic in your being.
What were your thoughts on Zodwa’s reckless and homophobic comments on her ratchet show?
“For me, what was unfortunate about Zodwa’s statements was not what she said necessarily – which are views echoed by many South Africans – but it was her disregard for how that statement affected the LGBTQI+ community and her failure in educating herself enough to understand why such statements are harmful. Because at the end of the day, we still live in a largely homophobic society, that believes that members of the LGBTQI+ community are nothing more than caricatures, or gimmicks or a punchline. She has the platform to educate herself and her fan base on some of the harsh realities that many members of the LGBTQI+ still face today. She had the opportunity to steer the conversation in a whole new direction forcing real engagement across many perspectives. It was an unfortunate missed opportunity.”
We’ve seen such a cute video of a young girl emulating you as a presenter. What did that mean to you?
“I love children. And seeing them get excited to imitate me or meet me really warms my heart. I only want to make feel good television and to know that children are receiving it positively, warms my heart in unimaginable ways.”
What can we expect from Khotso Rams in the near future?
“I’m working on two new exciting tv show, so be on the look out for those. I’m also working on a weekly YouTube show, which you’ll know about towards the end of 2019.”
Lastly, what message of love do you have for our readers?
“My message to the Previdar readers is: love yourself. Love all of yourself. And if there’s something you don’t like about yourself, change it or learn to accept it. Stand tall. Be proud of yourself. And always treat yourself like bae.”