“Do it anyway.” — Mother Teresa 

I feel I’ve applied it in many different ways. When I was younger, I was told by many people that who I was and “my brand”, or lack thereof, would not work for the entertainment industry and I can proudly say that I have proved them wrong — and this is only the beginning. In this quote, she encourages us to be kind no matter what people say and what people do. I think this applies to almost everything good — there will be naysayers, but you have to do it anyway. I knew there was a reason that my heart was being pulled towards this industry and I hope to keep making my mark and making it easier for others to come into it. I have always tried to help those who are at the campus level to be exposed to the commercial space the way I was when I volunteered at 5FM for two years before I got my first job in commercial radio. At the time I was one of the youngest people in commercial radio in the country.


Arts & Entertainment



At 29, Zanele Potelwa is one of the youngest award-winning broadcasters in South Africa. She is a radio and TV presenter at 5FM, on the lunch show, and SABC 1, on Selimathunzi, the longest-running magazine show in the country. She, along with her producer and co-host, was nominated at the 2023 Radio Awards.

She recently joined SABC Sport as a presenter for their new Netball World Cup show. Other feathers in her cap include being an MC, a voice-over artist, actress, DJ and content creator. She has hosted events such as the GenNext Awards, and describes herself as “one of the lucky MCs that is trusted by brands such as Disney, Spar and Sorbet to bring life to their events”.

Zanele has started The Zanele Potelwa Foundation, where she does food and clothing drives, donates pads and supports young women in need. “I want to see South Africa as a safe place for women — femicide needs to end,” Zanele says. “I hope for more peace and understanding of each other and for that to be a big priority. There should be no room for racism, homophobia, transphobia and bigotry. South Africa should be a safe space for all and one that encourages the positive growth of its people.”

BCom, University of Pretoria, third year

  • I am a radio award winner. I was inducted into the Bright Stars — young people the Radio Awards believe will make an impact in the radio industry — in 2019. 
  • Last year, after just one year of our lunch show, we were the youngest to be nominated in the 2022 SA Radio Awards Best Daytime Show category and, according to the numbers, the show continues to go from strength to strength, exceeding the expectations of a lunch show. 
  • Last year, I was a red carpet host for the South African Music Awards and the inaugural SA Amapiano Awards and a black carpet host for the MetroFM Music Awards 2023.
  • I have also hosted the Sunday Times GenNext Awards for the past two years.
  • In 2020, I became a presenter on Selimathunzi, the longest-running magazine show in SA and which was the seventh most-watched show on SABC 1 at a point in 2022, where you would find mostly soapies.
  • I am now a TV presenter for the SABC build-up show to the first Netball World Cup hosted on African soil. I will be one of the presenters going to cover it in Cape Town after I was an MC for the international Netball Quad Series.
  • I was a runner-up in the Mzansi Insider Presenter Search in 2017 on SABC 1, which opened doors.
  • I’m now celebrating five years in a commercial radio career and having secured a daytime show in this short space isn’t always the norm.
  • I was also recently nominated by the new platform Ladies in Media, which is an African awards ceremony that honours women making waves on the continent.

It would definitely be when I was in New York as a national debating prize in matric. I remember standing in Times Square when the song Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys started playing. Those small moments in the big city remind me that anything is possible. At the time, I had only travelled to KZN and Gauteng, and even just the thought of that was so far removed from the reality of a teenage girl from Eastern Cape, who only dreamed and prayed to see the world. This always reminds me that anything is possible and all my dreams in this world can come true — and beyond!

I would tell my younger self to not be afraid and to keep going. I’ve always been a determined person and sometimes not seeing the bigger picture made me impatient with my own path until I realised, with time and with God and prayer, that my path is my own and it will not look like anyone else’s. It is a journey that deserves every single moment and season to have the space and time to build the foundation for what I trust will be a long and successful career in the arts and entertainment Industry. I would tell myself to never compare myself to others (which I learned the art of after a year in the industry) and to keep etching my own piece of art in this big masterpiece that is our entertainment industry. The reason I would tell myself to keep going is that if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is that hard work never goes unrewarded. Your time will come, and things will fall into place, it will all make sense, as long as you work hard, operate from a place of love, i.e. have good intentions, and make your path about truly what you are here for.

In five years, I want SA to truly be in the hands of the youth. I want us to be leaders, I want us to be in politics, to be business owners, to be empowering each other and empowering those who are coming after us.

I see us truly making sure that our tomorrow is brighter and one of the biggest ways I envision us doing so is by finding ways to encourage entrepreneurship, by looking after our environment and our communities the best way we know how — especially with our individual philanthropy — and by finding easier ways to disseminate important information, such as financial literacy, and even something as small as career information (which I plan on starting soon, from the arts to medicine to education).

A lot of the time, it’s not a lack of talent or ability, it’s a lack of information. I also want to see South Africa as a safe place for women — femicide needs to end. I hope for more peace and understanding of each other and for that to be a big priority. There should be no room for racism, homophobia, transphobia and bigotry.

South Africa should be a safe space for all and one that encourages the positive growth of its people. With respect to the arts, I also hope for a space that is conducive to the growth of creatives and talent, in the form of royalties, and even more platforms that encourage the youth in this very important space.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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