“I am aware that I am surrounded by people who feel that they could do the job better. Strong people with powerful characters, more natural leaders, perhaps better-suited to leading from the front, making a mark. But, for better or worse, the Crown has landed on my head.” – Queen Elizabeth II

Johnny Malepa


Arts & Entertainment

Organisation / Company



It is fortunate indeed that Johnny Malepa dropped out of university, where he was studying IT because his career change has since rocketed him as close to what creative directors could call “stardom”. He’s worked with top names in the film and music industries — the list includes giants such as Netflix, Marvel and Disney — and he’s collaborated closely with AKA and Kanye West, who also happen to be his mentors.

He’s won an astounding number of platinum certifications and dozens of awards, including multiple Grammys. All of this in seven years: Johnny is just 24. He’s particularly proud of coordinating Orchestra on the Square, a project that was “one of Africa’s most substantial rollouts” and which “redefined what is possible in the entertainment and corporate worlds”. It took a huge amount of collaboration and pushed the boundaries of everyone involved, including Johnny, who thrives on challenges.

He’s faced hardships and setbacks in his career, including depression and falling into debt, but he got back on his feet and said the experience made him stronger. He’s optimistic about the future of creativity in Africa and globally because new technologies abound — and it’s the youth who know best how to use them.


I graduated from high school and pursued studies in IT until I dropped out during my third year because of personal circumstances. But this setback turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to focus more on my career. I still have intentions of returning to school to complete my education.


One project that stands out as a significant achievement is working on AKA’s Touch My Blood and BCWYWF. It wasn’t just about creating music; it was about crafting an entire experience that resonated on a national and global scale. From the team, securing major deals with brands like Cruz Vodka and Reebok, to orchestrating a groundbreaking show with 10 000 people called Orchestra on the Square and executing one of Africa’s most substantial rollouts, this project pushed boundaries and redefined what is possible in the entertainment and corporate worlds. The experience taught me invaluable lessons about the power of collaboration, innovation and perseverance, showcasing that success isn’t just about talent; it’s about strategic partnerships, meticulous planning and relentless execution. It also highlighted the importance of adaptability and thinking outside the box in an ever-evolving industry, emphasising the delicate balance between artistic vision and commercial viability. Ultimately, it solidified my passion for entertainment and deepened my appreciation for its multifaceted nature, serving as a milestone I’ll always look back on with immense pride and gratitude.

After this project, I was able to build upon its success, further solidifying my reputation in the industry. I have been credited with awards and certifications, including multiple Grammy Awards, MTV VMAs, MTV EMAs, BET Awards, Webby Awards, and Clio Awards. I have also achieved multiple Billboard 100 and 200 #1s and multi-platinum certifications. I have been able to work on global brands like KFC, Disney, Amazon, Comedy Central, WWE, Netflix, ShowMax, MNet, MTV, BET, SABC, TRACE, Marvel, WWE, NBA, Coca-Cola, Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Spotify, Apple Music and many more and also do work for global and African artists like Drake, Beyoncé, Adele, Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Future, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Doja Cat, Uncle Waffles, Black Coffee, Burnt Boy, TEMS, Wizkid, Cassper Nyovest, Dj Maphorisa, Kabza De Small, and more. This project not only served as a milestone in my career but also propelled me towards even greater achievements, solidifying my position as a leader in the entertainment industry.


The journey of my inspiration and growth has been heavily influenced by two iconic figures: AKA and Kanye West. Their artistry, creativity, and business acumen have always captivated me. I’ve strived to emulate their success, both artistically and as an entrepreneur. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to have had the opportunity to work with AKA and to cross paths with Kanye West. While I haven’t had formal mentors, I’ve been fortunate to encounter individuals along the way who have provided guidance and support, including the co-founder of Roc Nation and numerous others. Their insights and assistance have played a significant role in shaping my journey.