Comedian, Lesego Tlhabi, Coconut Kelz stars in the latest season of Tali’s Baby Diary, the sequel to the hit Showmax comedy Tail’s Wedding Diary opposite Julia Anastasopoulos, aka SuzelleDIY. The next installment of the hit show premieres on Showmax on 26 February 2021. Coconut Kelz is a satiric comedic character she created who’s taken on a life of her own and currently in high demand. Lesego chats to The Citizen about her latest role, comedy, and the crazy life of Coconut Kelz.
Where did your love of acting start?
I don’t even know where or when it started but it’s definitely been at the core of who I am since childhood. I was in the plays, I performed for my family, I did weekend dance and theatre classes as a child into adulthood and my degree is a BA (Hons) Theatre so yeah, my whole life has revolved around performing.
What is one thing that you love about the character you’re playing?
Well it’s a character I developed myself and she has a life of her own so I’m proud of that and the work I’ve done and the conversations she’s facilitated. It’s a character I use to address white privilege and racism so it’s always great when Kelz can just take time off from that side of life and just have fun and be completely light and silly
… And one thing that you don’t like?
I don’t like that she’s got way too much of a life of her own. Way too many people think I’m Kelz IRL, which is overwhelming because I’m quite different.
What can viewers expect from your storyline going forward?
The episode is where Kelz and Tali meet. I can’t give too much away but they’re very similar and manage to get into a sticky situation because of their love of influencing.
Outside of your character, what is one thing fans would be surprised to find out about you?Any hidden talents or unexpected skills?
I used to dance competitively and did almost every style growing up into adulthood so I think most people would be surprised that I can tap dance very well, for example.People are also usually surprised at how reserved I am at first. I’m quite an anxious person so it takes a while to warm up. People usually expect Kelz’ intense energy.
If you weren’t an actor, what other profession would you have pursued?
I’d have gone into the creative side of advertising. That’s what I was actually transitioning into before Kelz took off. I went to Vega to acquire some copywriting skills and actually had lined up some interviews and then before I could even really go, my life changed.
What are you currently bingeing?
Superstore on Showmax. I’m obsessed! And Are You The One?
What songs/albums are on your 2021 playlist?
I don’t listen to current music very much. My playlist stays the same pretty much through the years, LOL. I’m a die-hard fan of R&B and hip hop from the 90s and early 00s.
If you’re the type to cook, which dish did you work on perfecting during lockdown?
I didn’t cook a lot during the lockdown. But I learned and perfected some incredible baked goods. I’m most proud of the doughnuts I made because they were perfect and it was my first time. I made the famous banana bread, actual bread, cakes, desserts… a patisserie princess.
Once lockdown is officially lifted worldwide, where are you traveling to?
Back to the Amalfi coast. I tell anyone who cares to listen that it’s the most perfect place on earth. I’d also love to go to London and see my friends I haven’t seen since I graduated seven years ago!
What do you miss most about pre-pandemic life? I miss travelling. I really am the epitome of wanderlust so I would love to get my passport stamped.
Top/dream directors and actors you would love to work with? In SA, I’ve been so lucky to already have done that. Ari and Julia were a dream collab from when I first saw season one of Tali. I’m currently working with Rea Moeti, whose work I love, on a show for SABC 1. Internationally I’d love to work with Amy Poehler, Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Regina Hall featuring Will Ferrell, Keegan-Michael Key, and Andy Samberg in a show co-written by me and Jordan Peele and co-created by Michael Schur and Issa Rae.
An audition you remember vividly did not go well? What happened?
During my audition for New York Film Academy, I completely forgot the lyrics to the song I had to sing. I got through half and just blanked. They gave me another chance and it happened again. I cried all the way home on a one-hour tube ride. Somehow, they still really liked what I was able to get out and I got in!
First memory of the first movie or series that influenced your love for acting? Locally Suburban Bliss, internationally Saturday Night Live. I still dream of appearing in or writing for the latter.
Have you ever had a star-struck moment before?
I have star-struck moments all the time these days. Being able to work with people whose work I’ve watched for years and admired or getting to interview celebrities I love on Trending SA is always a moment. But my anxiety and my desire to be professional at all times means that I don’t show it often.
Do you envision yourself behind the scenes, as a director or producer?
I used to work behind the scenes as a producer and scriptwriter before “my big break”. And I would definitely love to do more projects where I get to be part of the creative process again while also getting to perform (I like performing the most so I always want to perform).