Words by Caron Williams
Photography by Austin Malema
Styling by DEAD.
Make-up by Mpho Moeng
Every industry has outliers – individuals who, by virtue of who they intrinsically are, unwavering devotion to their personal truth, purpose and uncompromising spirits, go on to change the game or industry in which they exist forever. The burden of the outlier is a heavy one, one which often comes with doubt, rejection and ridicule, until they eventually ascend, redefine and completely dominate the game. Outliers do not conform. They do not shrink any part of themselves, and do not buckle under the weight of the world telling them who they should be. They lead, carve new paths and revel in becoming game changers.
Luthando Shosha, better known as Loot Love, is South Africa’s quintessential outlier. Whilst passionate, talented and tremendously hard working, her ascension within the South African entertainment industry is rooted in her astonishing understanding of self and not comprising any part of herself to advance her career. As a result, she has forged a remarkable career as a presenter, TV host, brand collaborator and maverick.
Having been raised in Port Elizabeth, Loot had no aspirations of becoming part of South Africa’s famed showbiz industry. “I’m not about the spotlight. I don’t like attention. As much as that sounds like a complete contradiction considering what I do and who I am, I genuinely shy away from anything that shines the spotlight on me.” As a result, she went on to pursue Interior Design, but was shattered when she could no longer continue studying due to financial constraints. “I was incredibly devastated because I really enjoyed studying and I really enjoyed getting closer to the thing I wanted to be, but life just dealt a different card.”
After feeling defeated, Loot collected herself and pursued odd jobs until she serendipitously landed a gig at a local radio station in PE, Kingfisher FM. Unbeknownst to her at the time, this would come to serve as the catalyst to her entry into an industry she would become an integral part of. Loot later got introduced to the television industry and in 2012, decided to audition for LIVE Amp. “Everyone said you have to do it. I made a deal with my mom that this would be my last audition. If this doesn’t work out I’m letting this thing go and sticking to radio,” she explains. She went on to win the competition, confirming that she was destined to be in front of the camera, but also catapulting her on a difficult journey marred by constant criticism and the expectation to give up who she was. “As much as the final goal looks like overnight success, it’s not. It’s years of work, it’s a lot of no’s, it’s a lot of tears, it’s a lot of blood, it’s a lot of stress, it’s sweat, it’s a lot of feeling unsure about yourself, it’s a lot of feeling like maybe you aren’t talented and that’s why you’re getting these no’s, you question yourself, you need reassurance, you need so much love from people around you just to keep you afloat, a lot of support from people around you because it’s a cutthroat industry and everyone is gunning for your position. You’re constantly under pressure and you have to keep moving at all times.”
Winning the LIVE Amp competition meant uprooting her life from Port Elizabeth and starting a completely new one as a star in Johannesburg. Her journey to stardom and success was a challenging one. “People don’t see the first year when no one knows you; you have to constantly introduce yourself. You don’t even know where to stand at an event. You don’t know if you can get into VIP at the club. You don’t even know if anyone recognizes you, it’s awkward.” One of her biggest challenges whilst rising to the top was her dealing with constant critique about whom she was or how she looked and her refusal conform to the narrow mould that was set out for female presenters at the time. “Being different is honestly one of the hardest things ever because when you’re not everyone’s flavour, they get uncomfortable and mock you.” However, Loot’s resolute nature and implicit understanding of herself kept her grounded as she navigated the infamous world of entertainment. “I’ve always known I’m different from everyone. I’m not a typical girl, I’m not typically built, I’m taller than everyone and I’m tomboyish. I’ve always been an odd person so I learnt very quickly to just focus on myself and not worry about what everyone else is saying.”
Strength, understating her power and confidence in her voice, characteristics which have become a core of who Loot is, are part of what has informed the way she has approached her personal brand, her laser sharp focus and being persistent in the pursuit of her goals, regardless of how many times doors were shut. “Metro FM was a test; it was 4/5 years of sending demos. My first meeting with Metro FM was a year before I got on air and they were ready to go and I was ready to go; then it just went dead. I didn’t know what was happening. I kept calling and calling, and eventually they were like we’re just going to have to hold up because we want to wait for the New Year and get you in on the new line-up. That happened and I wasn’t on the new line-up. I was do I let it go or not? I kept pushing for a while but naturally, when you’ve been pushing for a while your ego gets bruised; you think maybe this isn’t for me or maybe they don’t really want me. ”
Determined and tenacious, Loot chose to continue pursuing her dream of becoming a Metro FM host. “I’m very persistent; too persistent sometimes, and sometimes I don’t know where to cut it off. I think for me, you have to slam the door in my face before I realise that this is a no. For as long as I can still open it, it’s a problem, I’m always going to try and sneak in. I always really wanted it (Metro FM) and I don’t like settling. I’m not going to settle until I get what I want, even if it takes me another 7 years,” Loot passionately explains.
After sending countless demos, having the door shut several times, Loot was eventually welcomed into the Metro FM family. She wasn’t immediately offered the slot she had desired, but through her unmatched persistence and showing up for every task requested of her, she gradually moved on to co-host one of the biggest hip hop shows in the country, Absolute Hip-Hop, alongside DJ Speedsta. “If I never said yes to all those different shows, I would have never gotten my pot of gold. It’s important to wait for God to do what’s right and just put the work in. That first show was the culmination of all the years I had been struggling to get into radio – all the madness was completely worth it. Nothing could have prepared me more for that moment because as much as it’s great to be celebrated, it comes with a lot of pressure and you need to be able to handle it and keep composed. And if you don’t have enough training – and by training I mean the no’s you get, the constant going back and forth, e-mailing people, calling them, even when they no ‘say okay cool, I’ll try again or I’ll wait’ – if I did not learn the art of that, I would have folded in the pressure of that moment. You have to stay above the water. I remember Sibu Mabena saying, ‘Enjoy this moment because it’s never going to happen like this again.’”
Loot’s love and adoration for hip hop is palpable in every aspect of the show. She has also extended her platform to celebrate women within the culture and the incredible contributions they make with her slot, Word to the Women. “I’ve genuinely always loved hip hop. I love the music, I love the art, I love everything about it, and it’ crazy that it’s turning into something I can eat from, something I can make money from and something I can speak about and hopefully push further. I love radio, I love hip hop and I love talking. It’s really nice when things come full circle in your life. There’s a lot more to do, but I’m in a very good place.”
Loot’s star continues to shine exponentially this year. She has collaborated with Footwork on an incredible range of shoes and is set to become part of an exciting forthcoming campaign for one of the most dynamic brands in the country. Her desire to learn, challenge herself and constantly expand on her craft has inspired her to go back to school to complete her Interior Design qualification, learn more about producing, directing and DJing. As Loot continues to build her brand, she becomes a growing force filled with remarkable confidence found in only the greats. It’s an unwavering acceptance of herself and an inherent understanding that her strength and power are ingrained in her individuality. “I refuse to be anything but myself, I literally refuse. I’m not afraid to not do what everyone else does. I’ve never enjoyed being a part of the crowd. I’m not afraid to be myself. I’m not afraid to stand on my own. I’m not afraid to be an individual.”