Nkululeko Legend Manqele

Date 25.07.2011

Words • Bongeka Tsekiso





Born and bred in South Africa’s playground, Durban, and now etching his name on arguably one of the cut-throat of industries in Johannesburg – show business – at the tender age of just twenty-two, Nkululeko Legend Manqele is well on his way to becoming the greatest this country has yet known.

Equipped with an eagerness to work seldom present amongst his peers, he seems to know exactly where he’s headed: forward and upwards!


Hold your own, Know your name, and go your own way.

– Nkululeko Legend Manqele.





You did Dramatic Arts as a focus subject in High School. Has producing shows as opposed to being a performer always been of interest to you? 

Performing will always have a place in my heart, but creating shows is as exhilarating. And in a world where one has to create a financially stable life, I think it’s good to know the ins and outs of this industry. Versatility is a very important tool to have.

How does a Durban boy make it in Jozi and get the opportunity of working with Urban Brew?

Hahahahaha! Wow, make it? I’m far from that.

It’s a very long story that I keep to myself (nothing dodgy), but to answer your question briefly, I have been fortunate enough to be able to keep the focus on my dreams; it is without a doubt the key to all the roads I will travel.

Urban Brew Studios is the biggest production house in Africa and my mission was to get in no matter what, but how it happened was just pure luck. It had been three days since my move to Johannesburg, and I called Massimo who worked at UBS at the time asking him to sit in during one of his shows. He said yes, and the next day I was there. It was my birthday that day (12 May). I bumped into the Head Of Production, he looked at me and then offered me a presenting job just like that!

But the SABC didn’t think I was ready to present a show about HIV/AIDS, so instead I was given a job as a production assistant at YoTV. I always say I was born to be in this industry…The 12th of May, I was hired at UBS.

Is there anything you’ve felt you were misled about with regards to the entertainment industry? – and has your ‘virginal’ perception/perspective of it changed since starting out?

Dude! It is a very different industry! That I will not lie about, we as the South African Media are still in a transitional period where you find yourself working with people who where in the beginning stages of this industry, thus making it very hard for a young person with a very different lifestyle and very different creative references, I really thought this industry would accept anything new but it’s the complete opposite! You have to fight almost every single day to get your ideas across! It’s even harder when you’re my age (22).

Who would you say are the top three young people to watch right now?

Neo Ntlatleng. He plays Skhalo on Zone14. He has really done it for me. He has a branding company that is doing very well, and he also directs and makes films. (I really don’t know anyone else except the one that I’ve mentioned.

Your first name is Nkululeko, an IsiZulu word meaning ‘Freedom’. How free do you feel to fully and authentically express yourself on the job?

I’ve always loved the meaning of my name. I’m naturally a free spirit about almost everything. I don’t really think my name has anything to do with me being free – in fact what it does is remind me of the struggle at the best of times.

Who is ‘Legend’ and how did that all come about?

This is the name that has been kept hidden from a lot of people. My late grandmother gave this name to me in secrecy – it only surfaced once she passed away, and I have recently put it in my I.D book as an official name.

What three items/philosophies do you feel all young men should never step out into the world without?

Hold your own! Know your name! And go your own way.

In a perfect world… 

I would be in New York Chilling with Jay-Z and Oprah.

In 28 hours…

I might sign a major contract with a new reality show.

Your new show, SoweTop10 on Soweto TV (Channel 150). What is it all about? Give us a synopsis.

For me, that is really where I think I can learn as a producer. But, the show is really about the latest music videos both local and international, threaded by Selimathunzi Presenter search Runner up, Lawrence Maleka. The links to the music videos are treated like how Street Journal was shot back in the day.



If you could fast forward 10 years from now, what would you see yourself doing?

I see myself receiving an Oscar for best Actor in a film.

Quick Expressions:

i)      Lighting or sound? Lighting

ii)      Script or impromptu? Script

iii)       Voice or face? Face

iv)      On screen or behind the scenes? On screen

v)      Location or studio? Location


What’s your winning philosophy? 

Hold your own, Know your name and go your own way.


The South African media is… 

…still in a transitional period

Word of advice to aspiring Producers etc. – in one sentence.

 Hold your own, Know your name and go your own way.

Manqele has also been involved in the production of Live, and is currently working on Hype TV. Keep a look out for this! You can also follow him on Twitter.