Bulawayo socialite, Gilmore Tee Moyo, has made significant strides in his career and continues to impress, after having secured partnerships with MTV’s Shuga, an HIV and Aids drama series and Ster Kenikor. NewsDay Lifestyle reporter, Sharon Sibindi (ND) recently caught up with Gilmore Tee (GT) and he opened up on his life experiences and projects. Below are excerpts from the interview.
ND: : How did it all start for you in the arts industry and which are your areas of focus?
GT: I am the last born in a family of four. After my father passed on when I was three, my mother took over all responsibilities and made sure my siblings and I were raised well.
In primary school, I loved music and painting. When I was in Grade 6, I represented my school at a provincial exhibition that was put up at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.
I guess this was my entry point into the arts and creative industry. Fast forward to today, I am now a television host, curator, fashion facilitator, public relations (PR) consultant, global citizen and a strong voice in the arts industry.
ND: What is the muse behind all this creative energy?
GT: Apart from when I was 11 years of age, I have been professionally involved for a decade now. I got deep into it in 2007 when my short story was published in an audio anthology by the then Umthwakazi Arts Festival.
I later went on and did some projects with the British Council and working with Alliance Francaise for three years, before going into a wild solo chase, which led me to where I am today.
A willingness to evolve, realisation that my brand is not stagnant and also staying true to myself has made me relevant and still strong, up to date. What started off as a small thing has completely changed and I am loving the progress.
ND: Can you share with us your most adventurous experiences?
GT: Working at the Alliance Francaise was one of my best moments ever. I used to do a lot of artists management and administrative work and it taught me a lot about the arts industry.
I remember being highly annoyed by artists who would come through, wanting to work with the organisation, but present very little professionalism.
This lack of professionalism, branding and packaging, led me to establish my agency, Hunnar Management Agency, which deals with issues of PR, branding and co-ordination.
I started the company when I was still working for Alliance Francaise. I am truly grateful for the skills Alliance provided me with during those years.
I will also have to say starting my own agency at the age of 23 was a jump into the wilderness. I knew what I wanted to do for the creative industries, but didn’t have the know-how. I remember spending about a year-and-a-half not operational, I don’t know whether it was fear of the unknown or just lack of surety.
In 2013, I left Alliance Francaise and went to work in Senegal for a year. It’s only when I came back from Senegal that I started putting things together and finding my feet in the arts industry of Zimbabwe. It’s been a beautiful journey.
ND: What are the challenges you have faced in the industry?
GT: I would have to say the industry is full of people that want to see you succeed and others that just don’t want to see anyone coming up with fresh ideas on their own.
Sometimes the gate to where you want to go is along the path with these individuals that feel the need to give you a stamp of some sort for you to make it. I am just vocal about what I want and extremely opinionated.
I have managed to talk my way through and most people I interact with know that I am frank, so they tend not to be clowns around me. I am also grateful to my family and friends who don’t allow me to grow a big head or think I have arrived.
ND: What projects are you currently involved in?
GT: I just signed a three-year contract with MTV Shuga and I am looking forward to getting the Zimbabwean audience to watch and experience the HIV and Aids awareness drama series.
It has been a hit in countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, among many others. My desire is to bring it to Zimbabwean TV and also for young people to be a part of creating an HIV-free generation and also know how to live in a space free of stigma. The content will also be featured on my Gilmore Tee Vibe Podcast.
I look forward to be doing more work with Ster Kinekor as their brand ambassador and also going back on your TV screens soon with Thatha Wena and other television projects I am involved in.
I am going to be on radio pretty soon, one of the biggest stations in the continent, so am excited about that. Once all has been finalised, you will be the first to know.
Apart from my media involvement, my team at Hunnar Management Agency, and I will be doing more work in the fashion and arts industry. We want to bring up new and outstanding talented beings.
We are proud of brands such as Ara Kani, Mbo Mahocs, Sanah Designs, Shadow by Sidumiso, Nobuntu and Stango Nongoma, with whom we have been working. We want to do more and bring a viable face to many of our creatives.
ND: Tell us something about yourself your fans do not know.
GT: I am a big fan of learning languages, so far I speak nine languages fluently and am in the process of learning the sign language.
I love travelling to different parts of the world and learning new cultures, so in the process, I get to do a lot of adventurous, high adrenaline activities such as bungee jumping, gorge swinging, lion walk and my ultimate is to do sky diving.
I am a big fan of personal space and nature in general.
Some of my extra activities involve hiking and site visiting. During my spare time, I sing a lot, do a lot of charity work with children and young people. I guess that is my development studies background comes into play.
ND: Looking into your love life, do you have a girlfriend?
GT: Usually, I am very private with my personal life which involves my love life and family, but for the sake of getting this question answered, I will share some information.
The weird thing is that I always get attracted to people completely out of my reach, that is geographically.
When I do these many travels, I always meet someone that I click with immediately. My last relationship was a distant one, which was a lot of work to keep up with, and a beautiful soul I was involved with.
I am in a “let’s see what happens” space at the moment, so I am not committed to anybody. I just need to get someone who will understand my work, space and also who is their own individual. I will invite you to my small wedding sometime soon.
ND: What kind of training do you do for the activities you’re involved in?
GT: For some, being a television or radio presenter needs training, the beauty about me is that I studied French and Development, and it is completely different from the media and fashion space I am in right now.
I am grateful to be working with people who challenge me to think different and act different, everyday is a learning process for me.
I found myself hosting and producing Thatha Wena with little supervision, hence, realising that we all have super powers that take those around you to help you discover.
But I have to indicate that I do a lot of research and networking, which has allowed me to grow on TV, radio and fashion, allowing me to be a better individual. No one should tell you what you can be, you can be anything you want.
ND: Are you involved in any programmes to ensure that public interest in the arts grows?
GT: I do workshops in which I encourage those I interact with to take their creativity as a business. The more our society realises the viability of what we do as people in the creative space, the more the next generation will aspire to be involved.
If you spend time on something, improving your craft and learning more about it, that’s your business and it should eventually sustain you.
This is the message I have been spreading around and I am glad that those I interact with seem to be doing well, which makes me happy.
ND: Is your family interested and involved in what you do?
GT: Oh, my family is very much involved in my work. My mother has always been supportive from when I was a child, drawing birthday cards and pictures for her. I used to do a lot of singing and music and she was always there cheering me up.
Actually, my first movie date after being the Ambassador for Ster Kinekor, was my mother and nephew, I am a strong believer of charity begins at home.
Now that I am grown up, she cheers for me through prayer and fasting all the time, it’s very humbling.
My sister, brothers and nephew are the ones who help me put my looks together, when I am going to big events like awards or so.
I struggle with choosing clothes from the many piles I will be having, but they have come in handy as my personal stylists.
Apart from that, my brother, Grant, is involved in media and communications, so he always gives me tips on what to say, how to carry myself around and all, while my sister, who is a marketer, is the one who calms me down when my head is getting
My nephew acts as my publicist all the time. Whenever I go to his school, everyone knows about me and even when I go somewhere with him, I don’t have to speak at all.
Although we are all in different spaces of influence, we always give each other advice in whatever we do. We are all we have and I am always grateful for my family and their role in making sure I build a solid brand.
ND. Thank you, Gilmore.
GT: You are welcome.