As a professional ballet dancer, Lorna Maseko wowed audiences on local and international stages. Now the Top Billing presenter is focusing her adventurous spirit and fierce ambition on her television career and her own company.
It’s been an incredibly busy week, Lorna admits in The Fugard Theatre’s dressing room in Cape Town, as she suppresses a decidedly lady-like yawn and stretches gracefully like only a ballet dancer can. In fact, the former ballerina has hardly slept as she had
to attend a rugby awards evening in Joburg the night before and then catch a late flight to Cape Town. Of course it doesn’t look like she’s suffering from sleep deprivation: her skin is flawless, her almond eyes sparkle and she’s full of energy.
The 28-year-old is also wonderfully entertaining as she chats about her newfound love for rugby. “I didn’t know anything about rugby and had to learn the difference between a ‘trial’ and a ‘try’ very quickly, as one of my first Top Billing interviews was with Springbok player Gurthro Steenkamp,” she relates with her infectious laugh.
The TV presenter-cum-businesswoman is clearly a natural-born performer. She’s animated as she admits to a reality-TV addiction and even goofily mimics her favourite X-Factor contestant Chris Rene rapping. Later she demonstrates how she hasn’t lost her ballet agility and effortlessly lifts her right leg towards the ceiling in a perfect airborne split.
Lorna was born in Alexandra, Joburg, and didn’t even know what ballet was until she was nine, when she decided to pursue it at primary school. “I spent most of my childhood and adolescence with my ballet teacher dancing. It wasn’t a normal childhood, but it was a sacrifice I had to make,” she says.
The long hours away from home continued when she joined the National School of the Arts and then Ballet Theatre Afrikan (BTA). In 2005, she was accepted into the South African Ballet Theatre (SABT). Maseko became their new poster girl when she was promoted from their corps de ballet to soloist, as she was the first black female to dance lead roles in South Africa.
It wasn’t an easy transition because professional ballet is a very competitive environment – but with dedication and a bag filled with “Cataflam, Myprodol and Transact”, she held her own and performed for audiences as far afield as Russia.
But in 2007, she decided to pursue her childhood passion for TV and, in 2010, she landed the Top Billing gig. When asked if she misses her ballet career, she replies without hesitation, “No! Your life revolves around ballet, but that round of applause, that standing ovation and small salary just weren’t worth it for me in the end. I wanted more.” This adventurous spirit drove her to start up her own events and lifestyle management company, Fabulous Productions.
Here, Maseko tells us about her constant and exacting quest for perfection while dancing, and the lessons she’s learnt about achieving success…
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