Driven by a deep desire for self-mastery, Hlubi consistently seeks to produce rich and valuable ‘content’ that not only inspires others, but which also challenges her to step beyond the confines of her comfort zone. Her journey has had twists and turns, but the lessons learned weave an interesting tale of perseverance.
Born Hlubikazi Mboya on 2 March 1978, this petite beauty spent most of her childhood in Seattle in the US while her parents completed their Master’s and Doctorate degrees. Once back in South Africa, she matriculated from Rustenburg Girls’ High School in Cape Town and went on to study Third World Politics and World Labour Law at the University of Cape Town before discovering her theatrical talent. And while her star shone brightly on screen, her studies certainly didn’t go to waste.
“The subject matter of my studies and the fact that I am well-travelled from a young age, developed me as a creative, humanist and visionary. I continue to view life through the lenses of a civil rights and labour law undergraduate, while honing my art,” said Hlubi, adding that a big lesson she learnt early in life is that – just like most things – you have to put in extra effort and invest in something to get the desired results. “Time stands still for no one. And having the emotional intelligence about the present – it’s a good place to be.”
Where the action is
Hlubi Mboya became one of the most beloved actresses of our time. The South African public got to know and love her as HIV-positive, Nandipha Sithole, in the soap opera Isidingo. She was also one of the celebrity contestants on Strictly Come Dancing and portrayed roles on the small and big screen including The Docket, Jacob’s Cross, Rhythm City, A Small Town Called Descent, and international films Death Race: Inferno and Blood Drive to name a few. In 2016, she appeared in the film Dora’s Peace where she walked away with the SAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress. Hlubi acknowledges that the entertainment industry is her first love and original claim to fame.
“I love reading a script and being challenged by new roles showcasing the complex and beautiful kaleidoscope of the black woman in the global context. I will never shy away from doing so for many years to come. Auditions keep me abreast with the latest industry nuances and industry trends. I also love to constantly recreate and reinvent myself,” she says.
The biggest reinvention for Hlubi was when she left the set of Isidingo. “I was forced out of my comfort zone, which, by its very nature was uncomfortable to do,” recalls Hlubi. “But it was the best thing for me. The scripts didn’t come in hard and fast enough and I needed to be where the action was. Therefore, I changed my mindset about my future and included journeys of epic ventures.”
…her drive for equality, equity, liberation and intersexual feminism.
Hlubi’s other ventures were born out of her drive for equality, equity, liberation, and intersexual feminism.
A formidable activist and businesswoman
“I believe women cannot be boxed because we come from different races, cultures and classes. The system is not broken; it was built that way. We also have different needs, wants and problems and injustices. Our struggles should not be grouped but rather be united in our complex fight for women’s rights,” she says.
Hlubi is well-known for fighting against the status quo, in the fishbowl of fragile egos, insecurities and often-misdirected sexual energies, and she has taken it upon herself to be a champion of the overlooked and the voiceless, and through that attitude has become a formidable activist and businesswoman.
As an ambassador for HIV/AIDS, Hlubi travels the African continent to spread the message of hope and behavioural change. She continuously tries to break down the stigma, raise awareness about the disease and its ongoing scientific innovations of treatment. In 2009, she was appointed SA Ambassador of the 46664 bangle and in 2019 she was appointed to serve on the Nelson Mandela Education Programme as non-executive director heading up donor relations and fundraising. She’s also been the African Ambassador against hunger for the UN Food Programme for the past 15 years.
“Transformational leadership and shared-value work are my purpose. I’m very committed to some of the difficulties that the people in our country face and I will always try to be a custodian, to fight the battles needed to support and uplift those most vulnerable in solving problems and finding solutions,” she says.
Her peers commend her for her big heart, business acumen, conscience and powerful work ethic. Thus, it is no surprise that this dynamic lady has her fingers in so many pies.
Hlubi is a driving force and director behind Sunshine Cinema which uses mini solar-powered mobile projectors to bring the cinema experience to communities that don’t have access to conventional cinemas. She believes that there are different ways to create impactful content so that the world we see on-screen looks more like the world we walk through in real life. Sunshine Cinema therefore brings the serious and controversial as well as a touch of light-hearted messages to disadvantaged communities.
They screen dynamic educational and interactive content to start debates through ‘Lamu the Landy’, a large-scale tour of African films shared in diverse communities aimed at raising awareness about key societal issues. They also train Sunbox ambassadors in Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe in film, photography and audience facilitation. The ambassadors host free film screenings and produce current affairs podcasts that they share with community networks via WhatsApp.
Sunshine Cinema addresses social and environmental challenges through community partnerships. They share immersive education through virtual reality to promote serious topics such as sexual health education. This includes a series of virtual reality films focusing on HIV education in partnership with Makhulu Media, UNAIDS, Google, the Gates Foundation and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.
Hlubi acts as a business consultant and financial literacy educator to work with ordinary South Africans in outlining their roadmap towards financial freedom. Now more than ever, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Morebo advisors are supporting businesses and individuals in their quest to survive with sound financial advice and logical wealth-creating structures.
Together with her business partner Gareth Armstrong, Hlubi hold the position of executive director to uplifts start-ups and entrepreneurs through the NGO, Future CEOs. They help township to blue-chip CEOs listed on the JSE with business management and career development by connecting them with innovators, CEOs, change agents, thought leaders in the SA landscape. “By supporting people to achieve their entrepreneurial goals, we empower them to generate economic prosperity, to improve their communities, and to become the game-changers that Africa needs to solve pressing socio-economic problems,” she states.
…a formidable activist and businesswoman.
One such Future CEO is Kopano Lebele, a business management and BA Theology graduate, who is currently completing his post-graduate LLB degree at Stellenbosch University. He is a Social Justice Ambassador for The Law Trust Chair in Social Justice, Faculty of Law, Stellenbosch University. He is also the director of KamoSolar and a finalist for the Redefine Properties Innovation Challenge 2019/2020 under the guidance of Hlubi and Gareth. “He has developed as a leader and an independent thinker. He has passion and focus that will take him far,” says Hlubi. Kopano acknowledges with enthusiasm Hlubi and Gareth with gratitude for the inspirational career guidance and mentorship.
Hlubi’s values, and passionate advocacy to promote and celebrate the growth of women entrepreneurs, was an immediate fit with the Lionesses of Africa organisation, and soon she stepped into the role of brand ambassador. Today, she hosts networking entrepreneurial events across Southern Africa, empowering women entrepreneurs with advice, insight and a platform to promote themselves, their businesses and their business ideas.
“I love hosting Lionesses of Africa events; no two events are the same, and there is always so much energy flowing through the room. I love that it isn’t your average women’s club, but is more real, with insights into every facet a woman is faced with in business today. The stories our members share are filled with tenacity, ups, lows and grit – the reality of working hard to make it as an entrepreneur in Africa. It goes without saying that it helps foster this spirit of entrepreneurship among our ladies,” she shares.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy and the road to success in 2020 has become even more rocky. The coronavirus has altered the way in which we do business and we will certainly need to address the evident imbalance of needs that exist in our country and the world at large. As Covid-19 spreads, entrepreneurs, their ventures, and societies as a whole are facing unprecedented challenges which the Lionesses of Africa network is addressing through weekly scheduled calls and a business portal #LionessBusinessUnusual, so that women can support each other emotionally and strategically. “As an entrepreneur I appreciate these moments as I’ve heard stories from other female entrepreneurs who have inspired me to take action,” says Hlubi. “The odds are often stacked up against us, and I urge women to love and support businesses run by other women.”
This radical generosity is spreading and an undertone of “collaboration not competition” is developing – the only way businesses can survive this pandemic. “It’s a process that involves planning, networking, time-management and, most importantly, drive,” says Hlubi, who believes in being available to others, and of assistance and service to her peers.
Hlubi’s goal is to build a high impact business that not only makes money, but makes a social impact, too. While working towards her goal, Hlubi says she has found that self-care and mental wellbeing is vital – and she is all about sports.
“Being healthy and taking part in a fitness and sport regime is my lifeline, my coping mechanism, my stress reliever,” says Hlubi, who competes in various cycling races and warrior competitions and who has also climbed Kilimanjaro and finished the ABSA Cape Epic cycle race!
Family takes centre stage
Hlubi thrives in her hectic lifestyle by simply doing the best she can, when she can. Above all else, her family is the centre of her world – and at that centre lies her heart, her husband Kirsten Arnold.
“He’s my best friend and we make a formidable team. We have different goals, dreams and visions but we have the same love for life and for the future together. We don’t hold each other back. We call each other out. More importantly, for him loving me, is him understanding me, and he does, and visa versa. He is my home,” she exclaims.
“Family is the most important and valuable gift that God has given us. It is the first lesson in relationships with myself and others, and they are really everything to me. They are the people I can count on, my biggest cheerleaders and critics. Family keeps things real. During this time where we only get to experience virtual hugs and kisses, I miss my family the most,” says Hlubi, adding, “The first thing I would like after the restrictions of Covid-19 have been lifted is to have a big family and friends lunch going into a dinner party with everyone,” she smiles.
Family is the most important and valuable gift that God has given us.
Be your own hero
So, how does someone like Hlubi keep her drive and stamina going? For Hlubi it’s all about rest, recovery, resilience, persistence, and giving it her best shot.
“Embrace your life and everything it throws at you. Pain and heartbreak can be the best part of your story – it builds and moulds your character for the best and worst moments in your life. Come to celebrate that. Don’t waste your time doing things half-heartedly and playing it small. Believe in yourself and create your own destiny. Create the highest version of yourself. Get out there and give it your all, and always… Be Your Own Hero!”