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Thursday, August 14, 2014

INTERVIEW: Leanne Manas on a decade of early TV mornings as the face of Morning Live on SABC2: 'You can't get a better job in this world'.


For exactly a decade Leanne Manas has been the name and the face on the masthead that's Morning Live - the SABC, and South Africa's, most-watched weekday breakfast show on SABC2.

As Leanne Manas marks an amazing 10 years on television, the busy married mom of two spoke to TV with Thinus to reflect back on this incredible milestone.

She reveals what she still wants to do, shares advice for moms and those who want to work in television, talks about the secret of the show's success - and opens up about "the hardest transition" Morning Live has ever had to go through.


How do you feel about this milestone; a decade of being a part of Morning Live on SABC2?

Leanne: For me its quite surreal. To me it doesn't feel like 10 years. It's been an amazing journey. When I actually think back and realise it's been 10 years, it doesn't seem real to me. 

It feels as if I literally started yesterday. I remember the first day like it was yesterday. It's amazing.

'it's been an
amazing journey'

The fact that I've managed to maintain the longevity, the fact that I've managed to be a part of South Africans' lives and to be on this breakfast programme for such a long time, it's been an amazing journey.

I have grown as a person, the programme has grown, and it's been incredible to be with it and watch the changing face of the country and the changing landscape that we live in. 


I think you're just such a wonderful example and an inspiration for both the South African TV industry and also for women, and for mothers. It's Women's Month, do you have a message especially for moms and working moms?

Leanne: When I gave birth to my child and came back to work, my image for working moms went through a change because they looked at me and thought: "Oh wow, if Leanne can do it, we can do it".

I think I was that proof, that reality that just because you've had a child it doesn't mean that you have to stop working; that your working life has to come to an end.

I think the message in all of that is that you have to surround yourself with people that can help you, people who are able to support you. 

And don't be shy and don't be afraid to ask for help. There's so many women out there who think they need to be slaves to their children, that they need to be slaves in their lives. They don't need to. Ask for help around you. 

If you have the ability to get help, get that help, and life your life. I think that makes you a better mother, it makes you a better parent and most importantly, it makes you a better person.


What advice do you have for anyone who looks at Leanne Manas, who has achieved this incredible milestone of being the anchor for a decade of a weekday morning show like Morning Live, and who also wants to work in television or want to be on television in South Africa?

Leanne: Television is not an easy industry. It's a hard industry. It's cutthroat in every sense of the word.

Only a few make it but if you've got the perseverance, if you've got the determination, if you've got the will power, the thick skin and if you've really got the passion - because in this industry it takes more passion than anything else to make it - then you belong here.

'be prepared for a lot of
heartache, sleepless nights -
but also a lot of joy'

Television is an incredible place to be as, as a career. I'm blessed and honoured that I've been in it for so long because longevity in this industry is not something that many people in television have enjoyed. 

I'd love to stay longer but television ... they get rid of you very quickly, because there's always a prettier person around the corner. [laughs] 

But I think that what I like about television now: There seems to be a new kind of respect for especially the news industry and the industry where I am in, for people with experience, people with that knowledge and those years of experience, that they're now kept for longer - which personally I enjoy, obviously, for obvious reasons.

For people that want to make it in this industry, it is an amazing industry but you've got to be prepared for a lot of heartache, sleepless nights - but also a lot of joy.


You're turning 40 later this year, what would you say is your vision as a person, as a mom, as a woman, as a well-known person on South Africa television? 
What are you looking forward to in the next decade of the journey of Leanne Manas?

Leanne: I'm so happy because turning 40 to me is a good thing because I'm so happy with where I am in life and what I've achieved.

If I look back, since I've joined Morning Live I got engaged, I then got married, and I had two children - all in the space of these 10 years that I've been on Morning Live. It's been a good journey.

Now I'm turning 40. I'm at the point where I'm quite satisfied and happy.

'If you told me 10 years
later I'd still be doing this,
I would have said "No way"

The next 10 years!? My goodness! Ten years ago if you told me 10 years later I'd still be doing this, I would have said "No way!" But I am. The future is unpredictable. I love television and for as long as I can be on, I will.

If Leanne can sortof have her own show in terms of doing talk, I would love to do talk. I do love news. But I'd love to incorporate it with a proper talk show. That could be something that I would love to do.

And certainly radio. Eventually moving into talk radio. That would be my choice. I would actually love to do that once I've gained enough knowledge and experience. I think that's where my passion would eventually land.


Leanne I think you have more than enough knowledge and experience. 

Let me ask you this, why do you keep doing this, you wake up before anyone else basically in South Africa, you're so well read always. 
What do you like about your job and the insane early alarm clock of getting up and bringing viewers Morning Live?


Leanne: There's so many things I like about it!

One of the things I like about it, is I get the news before anybody else.

And I feel like I'm nearly getting the upper hand in news and I love that. That's a big deal for me - getting the news before anybody else. 

The news for instance this week of the passing of Robin Williams, and I was waking up extra early at half past three, and I saw that, and I knew that the rest of South Africa didn't yet know about it. 

I'm just so used to getting that news; seeing the front pages of newspapers; reading through the wires; and being so up to date and knowledgeable about the latest news at the crack of dawn. I love getting that first. That's one of the rushes that I get.

The second big thing for me is that I have the days to myself.

 A lot of people think "Oh my goodness you wake up so early" but in a sense it's also the most amazing thing because I get to spend the days with my children. 

I've got a 5 year old and a 2 year old, and that for me is so important - I don't want to miss these times in their lives.

'I don't think you
can get a better
job in this world'

And the fact that I'm able to be a mom, and work, at the same time, at those hours - because I leave the house when they're sleeping, and I come home when their hair is all scruffy and they've pretty much just gotten into their clothes - I don't think you can get a better job in this world. I love it. I really do.


Over the decade, how do you think Morning Live has changed, how has television changed, and why has Morning Live remained, and continue to be, so successful?

Leanne: The big thing about Morning Live is that it offers so much.

It's got news, but besides the news, we're offering you a lot of entertainment as well. So there's all the aspects that people love. It is the mornings, when you need that.

And then, it is personality-driven. People love the personalities, and the faces that are behind the programme.

And I think that that is so indicative of the passing of Vuyo [longtime Morning Live co-host Vuyo Mbuli unexpectedly died in May 2013, a death that shocked the nation and led to a national outpouring of tributes].

'the hardest transition that
Morning Live has had to
go through - was losing Vuyo'

That was the hardest transition that Morning Live has had to go through -was losing Vuyo. Because Vuyo was the start of this programme, and he was the face of this programme. He was what Morning Live was all about.

I joined Morning Live 5 years into the programme. Not only am I celebrating 10 years on the programme, Morning Live is celebrating 15 years on air on 1 November. So he would have been there for the full 15 years if he was still alive. And I've been there for 10 of those years.

So I think that is probably the biggest thing: That people love the personalities. People feel close to you. They feel like your part of their family. And they switch it on to see how you're doing. And it becomes a habit.

And we become their alarm clock and their friend. That's why people keep coming and love the programme for what it is.

We give people the news in the morning but in an understandable, down-to-earth and in a personable way and that what I love about it.