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

True Love - - CONTENTS - By KEMONG MOPEDI Pho­tographs JURIE POT­GI­ETER

“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.

NEW CAN­VAS

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.

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