Many of you know Olwethu “King Olwee” Mlotshwa as the DJ who hits the decks with fire dances moves during many of the recent virtual parties during the lockdown period.
However, the SA Film and Television Awards winning director wears many hats in the entertainment industry including the director of some of Mzansi’s most popular reality shows including “Being Bonang”, “Somizi and Mohale: The Union” and now “Life With Kelly Khumalo”.
Beyond being an amazing DJ on the decks and being behind the camera for some of Mzansi’s most popular reality shows, he’s also a beacon of light for many LGBTQI+ people in South Africa.
Being an openly gay man who presents himself out of the masculine binary.
Slaying the game with inches of braids, Cardi B-style nails and having his face beat for the gods.
However, like many queer people in the workforce, being authentically yourself comes with obstacles.
Talking about this, King Olwee is open about the hassles he faces on set.
“In film and television, I haven’t had bad experiences. It’s just stereotyping here and there.
“You get to the set and people think you’re the make-up artist or the hairdresser. So that stereotyping has been quite annoying.”
He further goes on to explain that many times instead of people being outright homophobic, they would use microaggressive tactics such as a cameraman going to a producer instead of him to raise an issue.
However, the people he generally works with and know him respect his authority on set and the problems come in when new people are introduced.
In the entertainment industry, especially behind the scenes, many queer people are involved in various roles.
Many of these queer people who work in front or behind the scenes also are able to express themselves how they see fit.
Speaking about why it’s important for him to be himself he says: “It’s important because it then tells other queer people that anything is possible.”
Furthermore, he emphasised that he wears what he feels like, what he wants, “I never thought of it in a political way.” He continued: “I do it because this is how I look. This is what feels most natural to me.”
Speaking about his DJing career, King Olwee said that his looks have become an extension of his brand and when he appears without his braids or nails they’ll ask “where are your nails? Or where is your hair?”
And it’s made it easier for him to stand out. “Because there are a lot of excellent people in the entertainment industry who are not as visible because it’s not as fascinating.
“There are people who do absolutely great work but they’re not necessarily a feminine gay man which such an outrageous look happening.
“Looking different has allowed me to stand out!”
And while every industry has its up and downs he’s been fortunate enough to have not had any major drawback, and opportunities have found their way to him.
But there have still been times where people mistaking his role, especially in the DJing space.
“I still go to gigs and people think I’m the manager because again, they think that gays can only make the star and not be the star.
“And they ask me, ‘Which artist are you with today?’ No, I’m here to play.”
Recently Olwee played a fire set during the virtual PJ Party with DJ Zinhle where he played some club classics that still get you jiving on the dance floor.
And during his set people were having a good time enjoying the throwback jams and he was giving them a show.
Weaving in some of the popular amapiano dance moves he mentions that someone in the comments “for a lack of anything bad to say, ‘this DJ is busy doing (ama)piano moves to house music”‘.
“There are always people who are trying to make you look bad… and they find ways to be homophobic without being directly homophobic. “
Talking about queer representation in the media and the entertainment industry as a whole locally he said, “I think in terms of representation we’re doing well, but I feel like the representation comes with conditions. “
“And I feel like the entertainment industry doesn’t believe in LGBTQIA+ people enough… They want you to first be a success before they give you a chance.
“You see that in terms of Somizi getting the shows. Somizi wouldn’t be getting those shows if he had 100k followers.”
Furthermore, explaining how Moshe Ndiki and Lasizwe had to build a large fan base first and be co-signed by a recognised entity before they were given more opportunities.
“Anyone who is LGBTQIA+ needs to work a lot harder to be recognised even though they are talented.”
He continued: “Whereas if you look at the general new talent. They’re never anything if you look at anyone playing a cis(gender)heterosexual role. They don’t need to be anything. People believe in their story.”
Speaking about the future with regards to the normalisation of people expressing their gender in whichever way they like, the SA Film and Television Awards winning director said it creates a world that is limitless and the best place to be is gender-queer and non-binary.
And the future is going to be far more open and will see people as people.