Leigh-Anne Williams is a television and radio presenter – and she’s currently celebrating her 13th year in the industry. She started out as a newsreader in 2006, then progressed to being a host on South Africa’s biggest morning show: Expresso Morning Show. From there, she moved on to hosting her own morning radio show on one of Cape Town’s oldest radio stations, Good Hope FM.
Leigh-Anne Williams is 100 percent a people’s person, passionate about sharing people’s stories about life and how they got to where they are today. Here, she shares with Go Hustle writer Ondela Mlandu why it’s important to see people rise above adversity to live the life of their dreams.
A million ways to get into the entertainment industry
“I always tell people that there are probably a million ways to get into the entertainment industry. Every single one of us in this industry started in our own unique way,” says Leigh-Anne. Her advice? Start with education. “As much as I have loved being on TV and radio, I have also loved knowing that no matter what happens, I have two degrees behind my name. I never have to sell myself short or do something I’m not proud of to get ahead,” she adds.
Start with educating yourself, she says. “While getting my degree, I got involved in all the creative avenues I could find – acting, dancing, TV presenting. Being a coloured girl from a single-parent household doesn’t always shout ‘opportunities’, but hard work pays off and what is meant for you will inevitably come to you.”
Practical ways to get your foot in the door
“Internships aren’t aplenty within the mediums that I work in,” says Leigh-Anne. But there are ways to get your foot in that door…
1/ Try to meet people in the industry and offer your time to get training.
2/ You have to be okay with not earning money in the beginning. If you are responsible and eager to learn, opportunities will present themselves.
3/ Leigh-Anne suggests contacting someone in production and offering to be an assistant in exchange for getting to see how things work behind the scenes. Work hard and become someone they want to employ later on.
Upskilling: theory versus practical training
There are institutions offering training in these fields, but Leigh-Anne says that being successful in the entertainment industry is like learning a new language. “You can learn all the theory you want, but sometimes you have to immerse yourself in the job to truly know how to do it. No amount of training to be a live TV presenter will prepare you for that environment. So just be careful because many people will sell you dreams and then there’s no return on investment,” she adds.
How she deals with fear of failure
Leigh-Anne experienced Imposter Syndrome in the early days of her career. “I was acutely aware of how much I didn’t know and how much I still had to learn. I was very insecure and afraid of failure,” she says.
It was on Strictly Come Dancing in 2015 that she confronted her fears of failure and rejection. “It was a powerful experience. [Now] I know that I have what it takes to do anything I put my mind to. It doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous or anxious, but that only comes from wanting to do the best I can,” she says.
The importance of empowering other women
“There is still vast inequality when it comes to career growth for women,” says Leigh-Anne. “There are women who are making it and doing well in every industry, but the inequalities remain.”
However, Leigh-Anne doesn’t dwell on the negatives. “I choose to always focus on empowering myself and other women in the industry. The only way for change to come is by helping more women up that corporate ladder and making a difference,” she says.
What would she tell her 21-year-old self?
“Time is the most precious thing you will ever have, so don’t waste it on things that don’t add value to your life,” she says. She’d tell her younger self never to stop learning and investing in education. “Most importantly, don’t live your life for the gram. Find real, genuine connections with people you love and trust.”
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How Leigh-Anne practises self-care
Leigh-Anne takes a timeout whenever she feels like she’s given too much of herself. “I simply take a day to do whatever I need to do to refuel. Sometimes [this can mean being] indoors for the whole weekend, a spa day and a detox from social media,” she adds.
Connect with Leigh-Anne
DM @leighanne_will on Instagram or Twitter.