Anyone who knows me knows I’m proudly South African. Mandela’s passing had a huge effect on me as this country said goodbye to its most cherished soul. I was living in Cape Town at the time & all around me there were Madiba posters & South African flags waving in the streets. One day there was a huge concert to pay tribute to him at the Cape Town Stadium. Madiba has taught me so many lessons. When I think about it, he was the first one who taught me to get involved in my community where I could & work with others to strive for the better.
I’ll never forget when I went to London in 2012 to compete in Top Model UK. What an exciting time in one of the best cities of the world! I was there for a few weeks for the show and stayed in the Hilton Hotel, London Metropole. During my free time, I made sure I dressed warm because it was the middle of winter and it was so chilly outside!
I’ve been pretty busy lately. I’ve had a lot of photoshoots modelling wise and have been learning a lot. I’m working on my acting showreel and will be starting work on a project as part of Skybok filming and editing for Yokhuselo Haven for Abused Women who is hosting a big function in honour of their 25th anniversary this month. I’m presenting in a new Industrial series for my family’s company Doubell Machines and I’m soon making the move to Johannesburg but will be making a trip to Cape Town Nov 1 for the summer season there. The word on my lips is COMMUTE! I’ll be doing a lot of that in the time to come. Good thing I just bought a new cabin bag 😉 Acting-wise, there’s usually a great deal of castings and auditions up in Cape Town during these next 2 months of the year, so I’m excited for that. In the midst of all this, I’ve discovered a coffee shop in Port Elizabeth called La Boca. When I went the other day I had a pot of Rooibos tea (a true South African product) and an amazing cheese platter. Thank Goodness I had my laptop with me, as The Mail & Guardian contacted me for some photos of Grahamstown’s nightlife which I happened to have a lot of seeing as Skybok Profiles filmed many of their clubs last year! Watch one of our profiles of their biggest nightclub below. I did the editing and voice work and my brother did the filming. Shot on a CANON 5D MK 2 with a 50mm fixed focus lens and a 20mm wide angle lens.
After studying in New York, I arrived home in South Africa inspired and changed. I love New York! Every single day felt like I was in a fairytale. The flight to New York from South Africa is 14 hours. I can honestly say I was welcomed into the city with open arms. I’d always imagined New York to be an intimidating place. I was thinking “Sex in the City” and famous stars like Beyonce and Jay Z walking the streets on the flight over. Not to mention that it’s the financial capital of the world – the Wall Street Stock Exchange sounds scary. But I was pleasantly surprised with how friendly the people were and how do-able the city was.
I celebrated my 25th birthday in New York! My favorite moment was at a rooftop bar for my called “230 on 5th avenue”. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. I would recommend that if you have anything you want to celebrate in New York, this is the place to go! Check out their website. I also really enjoyed the “Hudson Hotel” … I suggest starting at the “Tequila Park” then working your way over to the “Sky Terrace” and finally ending up in the “Hudson Common” like we did 🙂 Here is their website and the address is 356 West 58th Street. (Needless to say the evening began with a bottle of proudly South African Graham Beck Brut…..you can take the girl out of South Africa, but you can’t take South Africa out of the girl…..!)
Move over Bruno Mars, Port Elizabeth’s very own Gino Lee is about to take centre stage!
Winner of M-net’s acclaimed “Young Stars” televised competition in 2010, BAMA award winner, Bay FM award winner, sought-after corporate and festival performer in the Eastern Cape, and still only a Matric student, this talented young rock star has the world at his feet. I say ‘rock star’ with a sort of giggle, as that is precisely not what Gino wants to be..
I performed in Port Elizabeth last night at Pool City, and I was a bit nervous as the crowd there is very rock-oriented and I’m not like that at all! My vibe when I perform my original music is very relaxed, very laid back. I was worried how they would feel about my music.
As could be expected, they received him well – as is the case in every other instance in which he finds himself in front of the mic. Having started at the young age of thirteen, Gino’s been performing his music across the province ever since. He performs cover songs of famous tunes, as well as some of his own stuff – a lot of which he co-writes with his talented brother.
Pop is my genre. I love it! I’m starting to introduce the element of dance into my routines, as the crowd really likes that.
Well, he might not want to be a rock star, but he certainly moves like one and has the crowds of followers to attest to it! With nearly 2, 000 subscribers on his personal Facebook page alone – not to mention his 1, 000 + fans on his public Facebook page – Gino’s a hit at the tender age of seventeen. Especially with the ladies 😉
Meeting him at “Friendly Stranger” in Port Elizabeth, I was honoured to meet his dynamic mother along with him.
My parents are my managers. I am so blessed to have them. They truly have my best interests at heart.
I personally can’t wait to get to work on the interview!
Tamika: Where are you from originally?
Gino: Port Elizabeth.
Tamika: Where do you attend school?
Gino: Theodor Herzl.
Tamika: What kind of training did you do for singing?
Gino: None. When I was in grade seven (thirteen) I was in a band called River Road. I played keyboard. We didn’t have a singer, and so one day I stepped up to the plate. Soon after that I went solo and in 2010, I won M-net’s Young Stars. I started taking my singing more seriously and I pushed myself forward into performing at all kinds of things. There were festivals, corporates, schools, competitions, you name it! I needed experience and I needed to get my name out there.
Tamika: What are some of the biggest performances you’ve ever done?
Gino:The Splash Festivals in 2010 and 2011. They were held at Hobie Beach in PE. They were big ones for me. Then an event for Volkswagen always ranks among the top ones. I remember all the big cheeses of VW were there, and I was terrified! But it went so well…
Tamika: Ever got stage fright?
Gino: Haha! No. For me, the most stressful part of the performance is always the waiting to go on. But once I’m on stage I’m fine.
Tamika: So what’s in the pipeline for you right now?
Gino: Well there’s some pretty exciting stuff! I’m off to America in a few months.
Gino: Yip! I was very lucky to be scouted last year at a gig I was doing at Montecasino, Johannesburg. A talent scout called Kim Myers selected me to perform at a talent showcase going on this year in Orlando. It’s called The Applause Rising Talent Showcase.
The Applause Rising Talent Showcase, or ARTS, is a family owned and operated international organization. With hand selected mother agencies, dance centers, performing arts organizations, theater companies, and more… coming together to offer a unique week long experience, like no other. ARTS is recognized by top industry leaders as the simply the best and safest place in the world to pursue the entertainment industry, without spending a life savings, and education dollars.
Aspiring actors, singers, dancers and fashion/commercial models with have their time on stage performing in various capacities. ARTS offers a state of the art experience on a Hollywood set and Broadway style stage! Live performance in front of hundreds of agents worldwide and a live audience! On-camera auditions for Television, Cold-Read, Comedy, and Improvisation… like no other! We unite agencies looking for the brightest and best new talent to the very best quality talent of all ages worldwide.
So everything right now is about preparing for that. There’s a group of us that were selected here in the Eastern Cape. Together we’ve started a project to raise funds for the trip. We’ve called it “Persuing Arts” and we intend to put on a showcase of our own in April this year in Port Elizabeth as a fundraising event.
Tamika: And school? What do you intend to do after school?
Gino: Well that’s a tricky one. A lot depends on what happens in America. But I do know that no matter what, I want to be educated and I’d like to study medicine.
Tamika: Wow! Brains and beauty! Have you won any awards?
Gino: Haha! Umm… yes I have, I’ve won three BAMA Awards (Bay Area Music Awards) and two Bay FM Awards.
Tamika: What instruments do you play?
Gino: Keyboard / Piano.
Tamika: What is the most recent job you’ve done?
Gino: I performed at Pool City with a band called “Shut Up It’s Sunday”.
Tamika: Do you act as well?
Gino: Look I’m open to everything. In fact, at the moment I’m the lead in my school play! It’s called Aida and it starts on March 4th. It runs until March 10th. I also love dancing. Right now I’m working with an amazing choreographer, Bennie Gerber, who has his own dance studio called Vertical Expression. I get all my cool moves and back-up dancers from him 😉
Tamika: Do you also model?
Gino: Not professionally.
Tamika: Which singers do you look up to?
Gino: Pop music artists!
Tamika: Where do you party?
Gino: Gosh, I don’t hey! I’m not really a party person. There’s too much to do! I would far rather be at home creating, producing, brainstorming and planning – let’s put it this way, I’d rather have my music playing in the club.
Tamika: What’s in the boot of your car right now?
Gino: Sound equipment!
Tamika: Do you have siblings?
Gino: Yes, two brothers.
Tamika: What does your family do?
Gino: My dad’s a doctor and my mom is a retired teacher.
Tamika: What is your health routine like?
Gino: In the past I didn’t focus as much on my body as I’m starting to now. I work out now – mainly to build strength and stamina so I can be my best on stage.
Tamika: Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
Gino: Winning a Grammy.
Tamika: Name a place you love.
Gino: Anywhere with my parents.
Tamika: Do you do any charity work?
Gino: Yes, absolutely! I do a lot for the HMA Charity (Heaven’s Missing Angels), for the Eastern Cape Children’s Home, for the Mfundu Children’s Home and for the POPS Foundation (People Opposing Poverty in Society).
Tamika: What do you tell yourself when you walk away from a performance?
Gino: No matter what, I’m kind to myself. I always make sure that even if I mess up, I turn it into a good thing. So I would say to myself; “Great performance!”
So things in the film world have certainly heated up and I’ve gotten quite a bit of work as well as gone to a great deal of castings and auditions in the past two months. One thing about being an entrepreneur in this industry is you have to keep networking and keep going out and creating your own opportunities. Getting to castings through agents is awesome, but you can’t only rely on them. You have to get to know what’s going on in your city in your industry, and make sure you are attending those events and passing around your business cards! You have to use social media to spread awareness of your brand and your services. Don’t underestimate word-of-mouth. You have to keep up communication with old contacts and build up relationships with new ones.
Create your own opportunities
Know what’s on in your city
For those of you who are wondering what a casting looks like, well this is it. In Cape Town, there are different casting studios around town.
I booked a commercial for Fortuneo bank in France which I shot two weeks ago – the product is a credit card. I really enjoyed it! Looking forward to more!
What I’ve also recently been busy with is shooting for “Death Race 3: Inferno”, the new instalment of the “Death Race” feature films. It’s directed by Roel Reiné and the screenplay is by Tony Giglio. The production company working on it here in South Africa is Moonlighting Productions (http://www.moonlighting.co.za/). My role in the film is a member of Olga’s Pit Crew. I met some of the actors starring in the film including Luke Goss and Danny Trejo. What great guys!
I’ve MC’d a couple of events in the past few weeks – one for a selection of up-and-coming designers in the “FCM Fashion Show” at the trendy ZAR nightclub here in Cape Town, and another for a Varsity College function. It was a group of students who were completing their final year practical assignment. For those of you who don’t know what “MC” stands for… it’s short for “Master of Ceremonies”.
I really love MC’ing – I love organisation and structure, so overseeing that an event runs smoothly is my forté! It’s a very rewarding experience. For fashion shows specifically, I love helping the DJ select the playlist for each designer. I also love the research aspect of each designer and their label – their influences, their target market and how they got where they are. I enjoy communicating that to an audience as the models walk by. The welcome is my favourite part of the event, as it’s my job to set the mood for the night. What really works nicely is if the organiser has something to offer the guests such as canapés, cocktails, gifts or a raffle later on. I must say that being part of these events makes me want to be involved with event management! Looks like sooo much fun (although stressful, I’m sure) You can view all the pictures from the events here: FCM Fashion Show and Cutting Edge Fashion Show.
On the modelling front, I recently did the summer shoot for the Longstreet Fashion Boutique here in Cape Town. I don’t think there is a more iconic street. They’ve just got new stock for their summer collection this season. One of my good friends, Nella Coetzer, took the snaps. You can clickhere and view them. What I love about the Longstreet brand is that it’s sassy, fresh, stylish & dynamic! It’s very colourful and vibrant..beautiful pieces for daytime. We shot in Longstreet and Kalk Bay. Shortly following the Longstreet campaign, I shot an editorial at a beach in Cape Town with local photographer Seagram Pearce.