Somizi Buyani Mhlongo (born 23 December 1972) is a South African media personality, television presenter, actor, choreographer and socialite. He has been involved in various aspects of the entertainment industry, from acting in films and TV shows, to judging and hosting reality shows, to choreographing major events and producing fitness videos. He is also known for his flamboyant and outspoken personality, which has earned him both fans and controversies.
Early life and family background
Mhlongo was born on 23 December 1972, in Soweto, the largest township in Johannesburg, to South African actress Mary Twala and actor and comedian Ndaba Mhlongo. His parents were both prominent figures in the entertainment industry, and he grew up surrounded by their influence. He had one sibling, a brother named Archie, who was fatally stabbed in 1985.
Mhlongo’s acting career began when he was 13 years old, appearing on the film Scavengers in 1987. He gained prominence in 1992, when he joined the cast of the musical and political film Sarafina!, in which he played a character named Fire, but nicknamed “Whacko”. The film was based on the anti-apartheid struggle and featured international stars such as Whoopi Goldberg and Miriam Makeba. Mhlongo also participated in the choreography of the film.
Mhlongo continued to act in films such as Kein Himmel über Afrika (1993) and Cry, the Beloved Country (1995), which was based on the novel by Alan Paton. He also appeared in TV shows such as Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996), City Ses’la (2005-2010), Ayeye (2015) and 10 Over 10 (2016).
Reality TV career
Mhlongo became a judge on the eleventh season of Idols South Africa in 2015, joining Randall Abrahams, Unathi Msengana and Gareth Cliff. He brought his charisma and humor to the show, often making witty comments and dancing with the contestants. He also became a lead judge on the dance competition show Dance Your Butt Off in 2015, alongside actress and dancer Khabonina Qubeka.
In 2016, Mhlongo launched his own reality show called Living the Dream with Somizi, which aired on Mzansi Magic. The show followed his personal and professional life, showcasing his lavish lifestyle, his relationships, his family and his work. The show ran for four seasons until 2020.
Mhlongo also hosted various award shows, notably the South African Music Awards (SAMAs), where he co-hosted for three consecutive years (2016-2018). He also hosted the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) in 2016 and 2020. In 2018, he was the featured roastee on Comedy Central’s annual roast special, where he faced jokes from celebrities such as Skhumba Hlophe, Nomzamo Mbatha and Gareth Cliff.
In 2020, he co-hosted the KZN Entertainment Awards with Pearl Thusi.
Mhlongo’s choreography career started with Sarafina!, where he worked with Mbongeni Ngema and Leleti Khumalo. He then choreographed many prominent events, including the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. He also choreographed various award shows and events such as Miss South Africa, Metro FM Music Awards, SAMAs and the Channel O Music Video Awards. He also danced and choreographed for the gospel choir Joyous Celebration.
In 2017, Mhlongo released a dance workout DVD called Grind! With Somizi, which was available at Verimark. The DVD featured South African dance moves such as kwaito, pantsula and gwara gwara. Mhlongo also did several YouTube workout videos under the name Kwaitone Dance Fitness with Somizi.
In 2017, Mhlongo joined Metro FM as one of the co-hosts of The Fresh Breakfast Show alongside DJ Fresh and Mpho Letsholonyane. He brought his energy and humor to the show, often interacting with listeners and celebrities. In 2019, he was replaced by Relebogile Mabotja as part of the station’s reshuffle. He then moved to co-host The Bridge with Dineo Ranaka and Lerato Kganyago.
Mhlongo has been involved in various other ventures, such as endorsements, books and music. In 2017, he was named the ambassador for DStv as well as the Department of Water and Sanitation. He also endorsed McDonald’s South Africa as the face of McCafé Coach Sessions. In 2018, he released his autobiography titled Dominoes: Unbreakable Spirit, which chronicled his life story and challenges. In 2019, he released his debut single titled Ngibonile, featuring Heavy K. In 2020, he launched his own cookware range called GH Mhlongo.
Mhlongo is not only a media personality, but also an author. On 29 June 2017, he released his autobiographical book named Dominoes, Unbreakable Spirit. He co-wrote the book with journalist and author Lesley Mofokeng. The book shares his life story, from his childhood in Soweto, to his rise to fame in showbiz, to his struggles and triumphs with his sexuality, family, and friendship. The book also reveals some of the secrets and scandals that he faced in the entertainment industry. The book received positive reviews from critics and readers, who praised Mhlongo’s honesty, humor, and resilience.
Mhlongo has also ventured into music, although with less success than his other endeavors. He released some songs in the 2000s, which were influenced by kwaito and gospel genres, but they failed to make an impact on the charts or the audiences.
In 2017, he made a comeback with his house-focused and gqom-influenced song “Ngibonile”, featuring DJ and record producer Heavy K. The song was well-received by fans and critics, who appreciated Mhlongo’s versatility and energy. The song also became a popular dance anthem in clubs and parties.
In 2021, Mhlongo collaborated with Vusi Nova on the song “Ntandane”, from his gospel-influenced album Ngumama. The song was a tribute to their mothers, who both passed away in 2020. The song was an emotional and heartfelt expression of their love and gratitude for their mothers.
Mhlongo has been open about his personal life, especially his sexuality. He dated actress Palesa Madisakwane while in a relationship with an unnamed man. This led him to come out as bisexual. Madisakwane and Mhlongo welcomed their first child, Bahumi Madisakwane, on 19 February 1995. Mhlongo later identified himself as gay, and the relationship with Madisakwane ended.
Mhlongo has kept his relationships private since then. However, in 2017 rumors surfaced that he was dating South African model and entrepreneur Mohale Tebogo Motaung. The two confirmed these rumors in 2018. Mhlongo proposed to Motaung while on their vacation in Paris, France. The two were married in a traditional wedding on 28 September 2019, and they had a white wedding on 30 January 2020. The weddings were broadcast on Showmax as a four-part special called Somizi & Mohale: The Union.