Lebogang Mashile was born to exiled South African parents in the United States of America in 1979. The family returned to South Africa in the mid-1990s after the first democratic elections in the country. Mashile later attended the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) to study law and international relations, but found herself drawn to the arts. She caught the public eye at the turn of the century with her hip-hop inspired poetry. Mashile captured a large audience and was soon a household name. In 2002, Mashile, together with fellow women poets Myesha Jenkins, Ntsiki Mazwai and Napo Masheane founded the spoken word collective Feel–a–sister.
A talented actress, Mashile made her acting debut in the 2004 film, Hotel Rwanda. She has also appeared in a number of theatre productions. As a performer, Mashile took part in a fusion of dance, music and poetry titled Threads staged at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. She has recorded a live poetry performance which was combined with hip-hop, house music and R&B which resulted in the album, Lebo Mashile Live.
In 2005 Mashile published her first anthology of poems titled In a ribbon of rhythm, her second anthology, Flying above the sky, was published in 2008. From 2007 to 2008, Mashile wrote a column titled In her shoes for True Love Magazine.
Mashile’s first presenting job was on the programme L’Attitude, which she also co-produced. The programme was designed to bring to the fore-front issues and parts of South Africa that the average South African was not exposed to. It ran for three seasons, enjoying an audience of about 2 million viewers. She went on to present a game show titled Drawing the line on SABC 2. Currently, Mashile presents Great Expectations, a show about pregnancy and motherhood. She is also an ambassador for the Film and Publication Board’s Say NO to child pornography campaign.
Mashile has been recognised for her diverse talents in South Africa and the rest of Africa. She was named one of the top 100 youths in South Africa in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Her poetry earned her the prestigious Noma Award for publishing in Africa, and in 2012 she was named one of the top 100 South Africans by New African Magazine. She regularly takes part in social commentary and debate shows in the country. She currently lives in Johannesburg with her son.
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