By Nwabisa Mazana
This article can also be found in the print Edition 2 of VARSITY Newspaper.
Snikiwe Mhlongo is a third year UCT student who was born and raised in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal. She is also one of South Africa’s biggest Social Media Influencers, with 53,3K followers on Instagram, 11,1K subscribers on YouTube and 10,4K followers on Twitter. It is easy to see why she is one of the country’s most prominent digital stars.
Describe Snikiwe to us. Who is she, behind the camera?
What you see is what you get. I’m not that different behind the camera. I talk so much I’m sure my friends get tired. I love laughing and being in happy, positive spaces. I genuinely enjoy interacting with people – being an entertainer is part of me. I’m not extraordinary but I like to believe my presence makes a difference in people’s lives, and my mom thinks I’m the funniest person on earth.
What inspired you to start your YouTube channel?
I think I’ve always seen myself doing it. I used to watch a lot of YouTube videos in primary school. I do things like making breakfast as if I’m explaining it to an audience/the camera. In grade 8, I convinced my friends to start a web series for YouTube (inspired by iCarly) and I wrote the whole first episode and shot it using my phone. What I’m trying to get at, though, is that the idea was always in my head but the lack of engagement on YouTube in South Africa always made me scared. The recognition of South African YouTubers inspired me to finally do it.
Who is one of your favourite YouTubers?
Kelsey Simone. I started watching a lot of her videos just before starting my channel and the way she made me feel left me wanting to give that feeling to people.
If you could give advice to anyone who wanted to start a YouTube channel, what would you say?
Just start. So many people ask, “what camera do I need and how much is it?” or “where do I get cheap lighting?” All of these things are just you procrastinating. No one is expecting you to invest money if you’re not sure that this is even for you, so just get whatever camera you have and start. Be sure of what you’re trying to achieve and stay authentic.
How do you juggle school and such a booming YouTube channel?
Honestly, I don’t even know. Every semester when I get my timetable, I make sure that my Fridays have little or no lectures/tutorials. Just so I know that that’s when I can film. It’s not always that easy though. Some days I’ll start making a video at midnight and edit until 3/4am because I’ve had school work to do during the day. I also use a filming schedule so that I know what I need to film for which Sunday, way ahead of time, which helps me a lot.
Words/Motto you live by?
Always be authentic, and “be mindful of your thoughts because thoughts become things”.
Despite her big social media following and digital influential status, it is easy to see why Snikiwe attracts as much attention and affection from those who follow her. She is as authentic as they come.