What happened to Felicia Mabuza-Suttle?

2009-04-01 16:43
Felicia Mabuza-Suttle

Felicia Mabuza-Suttle was once a well-known TV personality on South African screens. Her show, "The Felicia Show", was both loved and loathed. And while reactions were mostly mixed, the show did live up to its tag line of "Getting South Africans Talking".

Felicia's show centered on lifestyle topics and tons of philanthropic efforts in the hopes of improving the lives of downtrodden South Africans.  Unfortunately, the talk show host and business woman was often ridiculed for emulating Oprah Winfrey and The Oprah Show in the US. The Felicia Show came to an end in early 2004. "My mission in South Africa was to bring black and white South African together. Our discussions were unfortunately miss-interpreted for controversy when that's not what it was. It was a forum aimed at bringing black and white South Africans together, young and old. "

The Felicia Show is credited as the first live audience talk show in South Africa and personalities like Noleen Maholwana, from 3 Talk, and Carol Bowers thank Felicia for paving the way. "I'm happy to hear that I've done something to make the road a little smoother for younger people to take over. It was a rocky road", Felicia says.

South Africa hasn't heard much about Felicia since the show ended, but despite the negative press and cynicism that surrounded her, Felicia has not cut ties with SA and high-tailed it to the States as was popularly believed. "I'm really sometimes a little baffled at those who saw a negative side to what we were trying to do. But fortunately I am the kind of person who looks at the positive." She's been quietly working on our shores, managing businesses here as well as in the US. "I visit South Africa at least at least four times a year" she said, "We are here Christmas time, we live in Cape Town".

Felicia has also not given up on a television career and has launched a talk show on The Africa Channel in the States called "Conversations with Felicia". The show focuses on role models in Africa and she's interviewed many influential people including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and American actor Danny Glover.

Alongside from her activity in TV, Felicia is also a motivational speaker, author and business woman. Being on the board of directors and a major share holder for Pamodzi Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd, a multibillion-rand investment company, and a partner in Back O' Moon restaurant at Gold Reef City Casino in Johannesburg keeps her pretty busy. She was in the country recently to attend board meetings in Johannesburg, address 500 women at a conference in Durban, and visit her daughter Lindi in Cape Town.

"She sings…" Felicia says of her eldest daughter, who's moved to Cape Town, "something I did not know she can do. Ivonne Chaka Chaka sent me a text message saying 'wow, I see my sister singing', so I'm getting all these text messages about my daughter who can sing and I must admit I have not seen my daughter in action. I'm looking forward to it very soon. So that's a big secret that she's kept away from me."

Felicia is releasing a book later this year called "Dare to Live Your Dreams". The book will be released in the States in June, and she's hoping to get it released in SA before the end of the year.

"I proved this as a young girl coming out of Soweto, and I went abroad and I knew nobody but I grew up in a home where confidence was instilled in me, and I think that's what carried me through." Her new book is all about having the confidence to live out your biggest dreams.

While Felicia has lived in America for quite a number of years, she says South Africa will always be where her heart is "I love my country. I'm literally passionate about it." She has also not lost touch with her roots: Doreen Morris said "can we interview you on KykNet?" and I said "Doreen ek praat net kombuis Afrikaans en die tong is a bietjie styf".

So what's Felicia dreaming of doing next? "I want to start up these road shows, my husband and I are willing to do that. Do these road shows with young people and women." Felicia and her husband, inspirational speaker Dr. Earl Suttle, have approached retired American professional boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard and actor Jamie Foxx to help develop empowerment projects in South Africa, and both have expresed interest. The projects will be specifically aimed at young people.

-Ashlin Simpson

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