Whether she is on the airwaves or in front of the camera, Anele Mdoda’s larger than life personality is unmistakable.
She has this boundless energy and wittiness that is guaranteed to light up any room.
It also explains why she was chosen to host “Celebrity Game Night” on E!
Ahead of the second season, I got to interview Mdoda. True to form, she was a real livewire and had me in stitches.
On the show winning over SA audiences, she explained: “The one thing we must all know about entertainment, TV and what Hollywood has sold us, it is that in the first five minutes there must be a challenge, there must be a (sort of) jeopardy.
“That is what keeps people hooked onto things. You know: ‘Will the guy get the girl, will she get the job, will she become the princess, will the king find cinderella’.
“I think ‘Celebrity Game Night’ has done that so well. As the opening credits hit, the question is, ‘Okay, who are the teams? We know Jason (Goliath) is the team leader, we know Ayanda (Thabethe) is a team leader. But who are their teams?”
The overwhelming curiosity is then replaced with surprise as the celebrity guests are unveiled.
Mdoda shared: “At the end of every episode, you want to know: ‘Will Team Ayanda or Team Jason win?’ Then you want to know, which leader is going to win the entire season.”
She added: “It’s pop culture and it’s your favourite celebrities just hanging out.”
In this show, A-list personalities bring their A-game while being taken out of their comfort zone. This gives rise to a plethora of side-splitting scenarios, too.
The guest this season is truly a dream list. It includes comedians Schalk Bezuidenhout, Loyiso Gola, Lesego Thlabi, Celeste Ntuli and Donovan Goliath; actresses Thando Thabethe, Natasha Thahane and Thembi Seete; musicians Amanda Black, Kelly Khumalo and Moonchild Sanelly; rappers Kwesta and Riky Rick; radio host and “Idols SA” judge Unathi Nkayi; “Scandal” star Warren Masemola; ground-breaking model Refilwe Modiselle; sportsman Seabelo Senatla; TV star Lasizwe and DJ Lamiez Holworthy.
As for the stars that blew her away, Mdoda admitted: “I’ve never seen Kwesta laugh. He’s like this serious guy. I’m not saying I’ve never seen him happy. I’m saying I’ve never seen him laugh. These people come onto the show and shock, even me, at how much fun they are having and laugh at themselves.
“I remember Kelly did something and she really stuffed (up) in the round, and I go, ‘Kelly, you are here babe, you are here, your mind is here!’ She laughed so much that she cried at herself. Knowing kelly and everything that she goes through with the media and her life, to see her laugh and be genuinely happy, it’s nothing short of amazing.”
As for her thoughts on Goliath and Thabethe, she revealed: “Jason really cares. You think he’s not listening and that we are just passing time in the changeroom from show to show.
“He listens and he enquires about things. That is what I love about him. Ayanda loves love.
“She just wants all relationships to go well. On both times when we were shooting season one and two, I was constantly in a fight on the phone with my then-boyfriend and she was like, ‘Do this, do that’. And they are just great support because it is long hours.”
Long hours inevitably lead to energy levels dipping.
Mdoda admitted: “People don’t believe that my energy drops but it does. The beauty of it is that Ayanda and Jason pick up on it immediately. They are like the fighter jets when Air Force One is flying.”
The vibe on set is infectious.
Mdoda offered: “You are hearing all these titbits. It’s just so hard to be in a bad mood when you are surrounded by such goodness.”
As for what viewers should look out for, she hinted: “Celeste Ntuli had to act out a specific TV show and even the opposite team shouted out the name of the show because she nailed it so well.”
Bottom line, expect an entertaining dose of fun and games as favourites from season one – Maps Maponyane, sisters Bontle and Candice Modiselle, Roxy Burger, Boity Thulo, Khanyi Mbau, Mpho Popps, Chris Jaftha and Siv Ngesi – also return.
“Celebrity Game Night” season two debuts on the small screen on Sunday, February 7, at 8p on E! (DStv channel 124).