The comedian doesn’t seem to care that we’ve never actually met. He’s charming and incredibly chatty, shooting questions my way before I can get a word in. I offer a few titbits about my life to move the interview forward, while appreciating his pleasantries. It’s not always one is greeted by such a friendly face.
I sense it’s this welcoming approach that made him the perfect contender for presenter on SA’s Got Talent, where he is responsible for creating a safe and comfortable environment for the contestants.
He says: “I am like the receptionist of the show. Whoever comes through the door, I offer them a friendly face. I know what they’re going through because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be insecure. I know what it feels like to have a bad audition; to mess up on the day.”
Though Nkonzo has made his move from amateur to professional in a matter of months, he credits his success to two important sources: natural talent and practice. He feels those who do not do well in the limelight are those who are trying too hard.
“When I step out on stage, I’m not putting on an act,” he explains.
“I’m telling my audience what I really find funny. I often entertain myself with my own thoughts.”
Applauding those who simply take the risk and enter the reality competition, he says, “It’s great when you see people chasing their dream. There are so many talented people out there who don’t have the courage to let their light shine. Just coming on the show and trying is far bigger than three votes.
“Talent shows still have a lot to prove to artists in this country. People are still suspicious about these reality competitions but they’re a great platform and there are many who have been successful because of them. The more credibility these shows can build the better.”
Though Nkonzo admits he’s not yet had a “wow” moment on this year’s show, he has faith that once contestants step it up, it will come.
“Although the talent is less refined it is there,” he says.
“The performers just need to put in the hours. If you want to dance like Michael Jackson, you can’t just be flexible. You need to practice. In the States, mediocrity doesn’t even make it through the door. People keep blaming others but the answer is in the artist. I believe the answer to any problem is the people in the problem.”
Nkonzo also draws attention to resistance from competitors’ parents, saying: “Parents don’t have a vision of what an artist can be, but they know what a lawyer can be. You want to paint and be who? Those success stories are few and far between, but they are not impossible.”
Nkonzo is living proof of this view and continues to strive for the advancement of the inexperienced, saying it’s up to the distinguished few to draw attention to the talents of the future generation – those who will continue to keep the arts alive when their predecessors are long gone.