This former host of Our Perfect Wedding is a warrior when it comes to causes she believes in. When Ayanda Mpama was in high school she wanted to be a lawyer. She changed her mind, however, when she did work experience in the Durban Magistrate’s court.

“I discovered that it wasn’t like it is on TV,” says the former Idols star and host of Our Perfect Wedding. “I was traumatised and bored. It was very depressing. Then I performed in the school play and realised that was what I wanted to do.”

Mpama, whose parents were exiles, was born in Swaziland and lived in Zambia until she was eight, before moving to Durban. After school she did a BA in Music and Drama at UKZN, graduating in 2005.

She entered Idols in her honours year and finished in the top six. Since then, her life has been a whirlwind. She moved to Johannesburg, released an album called State of Aya, has acted and presented on TV, does voice-overs and is currently appearing in the TV drama Saints and Sinners.

one of her more memorable jobs was hosting Our Perfect Wedding for 13 weeks in 2015 “I’m a romantic at heart and it was great meeting all those wonderful couples. It was incredibly humbling.
“It was also very taxing, because I’m a single mom. You had to get up early and be constantly focused on what was happening. Thirteen weeks was definitely enough,” she says.

Mpama also has a serious side and has re-entered politics. “At university I was involved with student politics and I was the Deputy President of the SrC. I’m now involved with the ANC Youth league in my area, North riding in Johannesburg.

“we’ve organised a dialogue around femicide, because woman are abused and killed to a scary degree.” She’s also working with a project, Caring4girls, that provides girls with sanitary towels. “As artists we should not only be creating, we also have to look at the way we live.”

At the moment that includes working on her next album and doing things that make her happy, like yoga, reading and training for the Trek4Mandela expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. This initiative is an annual expedition to summit Kilimanjaro on Mandela day, thereby raising awareness for Caring4girls and helping to keep girls in school.

– Shelagh McLoughlin