Lynn Forbes on her close relationship with DJ Zinhle and her glamourous life
Lynn Forbes (PHOTO: Drum)
The white couch, the glossy bob, the immaculate makeup, the
manicured nails, the determination to make her family successful . . . You
could be talking about Kris Jenner, and that suits this glamorous grandmother –
or “glammager”, as she calls herself – just fine. “I’m absolutely like Kris
Jenner – just better,” Lynn Forbes says, sipping coffee in the lounge of her
home in Douglasdale, Johannesburg.
She’s wearing a sexy black silk robe that displays the legs
her 60 000 Instagram fans so often see.
“I don’t understand why people say I have nice legs,” she
says. “I actually think they’re skinny. I just have a very good photographer
who knows how to capture them.”
Lynn (50), mother to
hip-hop star Kiernan “AKA” Forbes, close friend to his partner, DJ Zinhle, and
“glammy” to their child, three-year-old Kairo Forbes, welcomes us into her home
with her signature “seven-second hug”. It’s her way of showing trust in people,
she says, and focusing on “the simple things in life”, like human connection.
Lynn describes herself as a mom, motivator and lifestyle influencer
and is the first to admit she wouldn’t be this well-known if it wasn’t for her
famous 31-year-old son. “If Kiernan wasn’t who he is and I still wanted to do
this, I could’ve tried but it probably would’ve been way more difficult. My son
being successful created a platform for me to elevate myself to a place where I
could be of service to others.”
What she’s mostly concentrating on, however, is building
Brand Kairo. Her cute, sassy granddaughter has over 500 000 followers on
Instagram and is a growing social-media star much in demand for shoots,
advertising campaigns and appearances at gigs and events. She’ll also soon be
releasing branded merchandise online.
“If you can think Kylie Jenner, that’s what I want for
Kairo. Kairo has taken over my life in many ways. Kairo is my job. I’m her
brand manager, I do all the deals, I run her Instagram page. I do all the
social media – if anyone wants to do anything with us, speak to me. I’m that
person.” Kris J, you’ve been warned.
Lynn’s life hasn’t always been staged photo shoots and trips
to the hair and nail salon. She grew up in the small Free State town of
Koffiefontein in a family of teachers. She decided to go that route too and
enrolled at the University of the Western Cape when she completed high school
to study education.
However, things ground to a halt when she became pregnant
with Kiernan in her first year. She and her boyfriend, Tony Forbes, got married
and had a second son, Steffan (26). Lynn managed to qualify as a teacher and
taught for six months before moving to Richards Bay. “Tony worked in IT and I
was a stay-at-home mom before we moved to Joburg in 1994. I worked for Tony’s
business for a while and we’ve been here since.”
Lynn and Tony split amicably after 20 years of marriage and
Tony moved to Cape Town where he remarried and had a daughter. Meanwhile,
Kiernan’s career was starting to go places. In 2011 he won the Metro FM best
hip-hop album award for Altar Ego, plus two other awards. A year later he won
best male artist at the South African Music Awards and became one of the
biggest artists in the country.
Then in 2015 he and Zinhle had little Kairo – and her birth,
Lynn says, also meant the arrival of the glammy. But it also triggered her to
face demons in her past. As a young girl she was sexually abused by a family
friend, a secret she kept for 38 years before she finally opened up on her
blog, According to Glammy, in 2017.
“The first time I saw Kairo in hospital I thought, ‘I have a
granddaughter now, I have to tell my story’. The whole idea that ‘children
should be seen and not heard’ was not going to exist for this child.” After her
blog post Lynn was in demand for interviews and motivational talks and is
always searching for ways to inspire others – such as climbing Mount
Kilimanjaro to celebrate her 50th birthday last year.
“I had a book about Kili as a child and it always
represented a place you could escape to,” she says. She called the organisers
of Trek4Mandela, who arrange for hikes up the mountain to raise money for
charity, and a day after she turned the big 5-0 she set off for Tanzania to
climb Africa’s highest peak.
“It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever done – and the
hardest,” she says. Lynn admits she couldn’t have done it without the support
and encouragement of her sons. They’re her biggest cheerleaders and protectors,
she says, and that applies to life “in this crazy industry”. She tries to
ignore the negativity that comes with social media but admits it’s hard when it
comes to AKA.
“Kiernan is good at handling the attention but he can also
be short-tempered and he hates being disrespected – people need to realise
we’re human too,” she says. Lynn faced a lot of criticism herself after Zinhle
and AKA broke up in 2015 and she was seen to be siding with the mother of her
granddaughter and not her son. It wasn’t the case, she says.
AKA and Zinhle are back together again now and Lynn is
thrilled – but if they were to split for a second time she would remain close
to Zinhle. “When my kids are happy, I’m happy. I’m happy for them as a couple,
I’m happy for us as a family because we all get along so well and I’m happy for
Kairo because who wouldn’t want that?
“Zinhle and I are friends and confidantes. She’s a very,
very special person in my life and even if Kiernan and Kairo weren’t in the
picture, she would still be in my life. Even if they don’t stay together in the
future, that’s okay. Life happens. We will always be family.” The rumour mill
has been swirling lately that Lynn is a taken woman and she wants to set the
record straight right now: she is “so single” and “so looking”.
Still, you can see why people might have thought she was off
the market. A hunky Peruvian photographer called Xavier Saer has been
accompanying her on her travels and featuring in plenty of loved-up Instagram
posts – but there’s nothing going on between them. He’s her best friend, she
says, and she’s still very much open to finding love.
“People always think we are a couple, but we’re not. So
please, include this in your article or else I’ll never find a boyfriend
because everyone thinks Xavier is my boyfriend! We always say to each other,
‘You’re my best friend but also my worst enemy because of this’.
She and Xavier have a vlog, Passport 2 Life, where they
showcase everything from travelling and going on safari to simply hanging out.
But nothing beats the energy she puts into building her granddaughter’s
profile. When Kairo turns four next month, Lynn wants to really push Brand
Kairo so it can be a starting point for the little girl to become independent
and “know the value of her brand and money”, she says.
“Obviously her parents will have to be investors of the
business initially but I want her to be able to pay them back when she’s
ready,” she explains. “I want to teach her about money. I want to teach her
about being independent and strong. I want her in healthy relationships. I want
her to register her company, have a bank account, have a photographer and a
team of people. The day she turns 21, I want her to be a wealthy young woman.”
But it’s not all business, Lynn adds, and they enjoy spending plenty of “Glammy
and Kairo” time together, going shopping, visiting the park and eating out at
Lynn has lots of time for a lot of things but there’s one
place you’ll never find her, and that’s behind the stove. “Cooking isn’t my
forte. If there are leftovers, we’ll have them, otherwise we’ll order in. But
most of the time I’m somewhere else for supper – I could be at Zinhle’s house.
She has the best nanny who cooks. “I have meetings and a lot of my life is
doing Kairo’s stuff. But I don’t cook. I do my nails, I do my makeup. That’s my
life. That’s the Glammy life