Cover story – LootLove on rebranding herself
Metro FM on-air personality LUTHANDO ‘LOOTLOVE’ SHOSHA reveals how she came to master the art of staying in her lane, seeking no validation from the entertainment industry and a new hip-hop project up her sleeve
“PLEASE CLEAR MY SET!” shouts LootLove, as she jokingly orders our editor and the glam squad standing in the background, watching her pose with the professionalism and ease of the world’s highest-paid model. A photographer’s dream, she’s evidently confident in front of the lens — nailing her postures in one take and cutting down what could have been a long shoot by at least two hours.
Witnessing how cooperative and in-her-element she was throughout the cover shoot prompts me to ask if she’s ever tried her hand at modelling when we sit down for our interview, three days later. “I actually did. I was a super skinny teenager — a size 26 to be exact. In matric, I came up to Johannesburg for a meeting with an agency and was told that I needed to lose more weight,” she recalls. Startled at this insane and unhealthy request, LootLove quickly shelved that dream, and hoped to someday find ways of living it… Enter Instagram! “I always imagine that I’m a model when posing for my Instagram, and you cannot tell me otherwise! I also treat every photo shoot as though I’m on the set of Vogue magazine,” she enthuses.
While still on the subject of Instagram, I mention that I spotted a picture of her and US rapper Common earlier this year, followed by a rather tjatjarag, “What was it like meeting him?” to appease my own long-standing crush on the muso. LootLove is more than willing to indulge me. “I don’t know what air he breathes, what yoga he does or what Bhuddist temple he wakes up in but his energy is so light, pure and gentle. He has such presence that you can’t help but wonder if he’s really human,” she says before continuing, “You would seriously die if you had a conversation with him. He’s the definition of that ‘I will teach you things and open up your mind’ kind of grown. And all of this I got from just seven minutes of interacting with him.” Even with all this amusing boy talk, she’s politely asked for her own love life to be out of bounds, saying who she’s dating should never supercede her career in importance.
PLAYING BY HER RULES
I first interviewed a once-timid LootLove in 2012, just a few months after she’d been announced as SABC1’s new Live Amp presenter. At 24, she likened her early days in entertainment to someone unexpectedly pouring ice-cold water in her face, and stated that one of her New Year’s resolutions was to get over her shyness. “I was very paranoid of the industry in the beginning so I would literally work and go home but a heartbreak pushed me to experience the industry and live a little,” she recalls in between giggles. Well, step out of her shell she has but even so, she’s doing it on her own terms.
“For instance, even though it’s often adviced that celebs must try attend a lot of events or risk being branded irrelevant, I’ve actually cut down on industry dos because it’s always just a lot of air kisses and meaningless conversations, all of which I find draining,” the presenter says.
“I’m 29 now so I need to sift what’s worth attending and
think carefully about the choices I make,” she explains before sharing how heartbroken she still is at missing her best friend’s wedding, in 2015, due to work commitments. Later that year, LootLove finally reached a place in her life where she was comfortable with redefining herself sans others’ opinions. This, after being on Live Amp had made her the victim of black Twitter’s ruthlessness. “It used to bug me a lot when people said they didn’t understand me until I reminded myself that the only person who should get me, was ME! I just told myself that by the time they grasp who I am or who I’m trying to be, I won’t even care anyway,” she says reflectively. This inward focus has paid off handsomely for LootLove, who seems oblivious to her style muse status. She was also announced as one of four Revlon South Africa ambassadors in March this year, a role that requires her to simply be herself, she says.
STYLE STAKES SO HIGH
True to her stay-in-thy-lane life motto, LootLove seldom mimics style trends. She explains that how she expresses herself on any particular day is dependent on her mood. “I can go from looking like a boy the one day to looking like a made-up doll the very next day,” she quips, adding that comfort always forms the foundation of all her outfits.
Her daring style sense was also drilled into her from home, she says. “My first reference when it comes to looking good is my grandmother, mom and dad. At a much later stage, magazines and the creative friends I kept around me fuelled my passion for fashion. My dad is the most stylish and flamboyant man I have ever seen in my life,” she says.
LIFE POST TV
While leaving Live Amp in 2016 to present a short-lived SABC1 music show called Urban Music Experience was a scary move for LootLove, it was also one that helped her see the entertainment industry for what it truly is. The latter show didn’t pan out as planned and eventually had to be canned, which thrust her into a rut. “I just thought to myself, ‘where does one go after presenting a prime time show?’ It felt like my career was taking a dip,” she explains. Without sounding bitter, she shares how some of her industry peers treated her like she had fallen off when she was no longer part of a prime-time TV show. However, she’ll always be grateful for those encounters because now she knows for sure how the industry is set up. “People treat you like the absolute bottom when they no longer benefit from you, and this completely messed with me for the longest time. I would never treat an artist any less just because their music is no longer selling — it’s inhumane. But I’ve come to accept that that’s just the nature of the business — that there will always be a peak and a dip but it’s what you do afterwards that matters. You don’t stay down forever,” she says with conviction.
Another invaluable lesson she drew from this emotionally testing chapter was that being looked down upon fuels her. Her rebrand wasn’t something she made noise about, but in the background, she knocked so hard on Metro FM’s doors and weathered a few disappointments but eventually landed a co-presenting gig alongside Adil More on Wide Awake on Saturday mornings. Then in May this year she moved to Absolute Hip-Hop, Metro FM’s four-hour show which she co-hosts with DJ Speedsta. Now that she’s back on a popular show, which she describes as an extension of her personality, LootLove says she feels no need to protect herself from those who plan to befriend her with the hope of gaining something in return. “Now that I’m no longer naive about industry relations, I feel like I’ve got one up on a lot of people. I’ve completely turned the focus to myself, my family and my real friends who support and listen to my dreams,” she says. She adds, “Plus, I don’t seek validation from the industry anymore and certainly don’t look forward to so-and-so praising my work.”
Her passion for hip-hop will see LootLove co-present Castle Lite’s first ever all-female hip-hop concert, titled Hip-hop Herstory, alongside TV and radio host Lee Kasumba and US radio personality Angela Yee, this month. The concert seeks to celebrate and set the record straight on women’s contribution to this genre. “I’ve watched local hip-hop literally grow from nothing in SA to being one of the most popular genres in the country. Knowing that I’m contributing to this journey in such an impactful way is such a dope feeling. DJ Speedsta and I get to play a part in which artist is heard or seen, and get to educate everyone else about what goes on in the hip-hop industry,” she says. On whether she gets chancetakers who try to approach her about being interviewed on the show, she believes what she calls her “resting b***ch face” saves her from such. “I think a lot of people think I’m unapproachable because I look upset even when I’m not. But I also think that it’s because I don’t live in the industry — I’m not part of the cool kid cliques and I’m such a loner, so people don’t really know how to approach me or where to place me. So, it makes them stay away,” she says, while also trying to muffle a giggle.
LootLove turns 30 next March and says, “OMG, I’m so done with my twenties. Dirty 30s let’s go!” she exclaims, sounding like she already knows what the new chapter holds. “I’m looking forward to knowing myself that much more, being intolerant of B.S. and time wasters. My twenties were all about making mistakes, and I can’t wait to operate from a place of certainty. I’m excited about being grown, sexy and figuring out the next ten years,” she explains. And as part of her 30s adventures, she plans to complete her interior design qualification. “I’m comforted by the memory that back when I was a student, there were a few older students in my lectures who were all restarting their lives. So it can be done!” she concludes.
I’ve completely turned the focus to myself, my family and my real friends who support and listen to my dreams.