Pic: Idols SA / Instagram
In a surprise announcement, Somizi Mhlongo will join the Idols SA season 11 judging panel.
The openly gay Mhlongo is one of the country’s leading choreographers and an often controversial socialite and public figure.
He joins Randall Abrahams, Unathi Msengana and Gareth Cliff to make up the new panel of judges. It’s the first time since 2009 that the show has featured four judges.
The reveal was made at the launch of the auditions for the latest season at the State Theatre in Pretoria.
“I literally couldn’t sleep last night!” Mhlongo told the Idols SA website. “I’ve never had a wedding but I imagine it feels a little like this. I’ve known about this for about two months already and I didn’t tell a soul. Not even Unathi, and we’ve been working on her music video together every day!”
Mhlongo previously appeared in the talent contest as a Top 6 mentor in an episode of Idols SA season 10.
He warned that this year contestants had to do more than just sing well. “I will be judging the ‘razzmatazz’. From now on a good voice alone isn’t enough anymore – I’m going to want contestants who have showmanship!”
Many consider Mhlongo something of a gay icon in South Africa thanks to his openness about his sexuality and for hosting the 2005 TV talk show Intimate Connexionz as his drag alter ego Madame Gigi. He also appeared in movies such as Sarafina and Cry the Beloved Country.
In 2008 he found himself in legal trouble over accusations that he had indecently assaulted a 28-year-old man in his home. Mhlongo repeatedly denied the claim. He is often predictably described by the South African media as “flamboyant.”