Presenter Search on 3 finalist Zikhona Mda was the first to be eliminated off the reality show as the search for the next Top Billing, Expresso and Afternoon Express presenters heats up. In their first elimination task, the Top 10 headed out to the Emerald Resort and Casino where each of them were asked to highlight one of the resort’s exciting activities on camera.

While some contestants rose up to the challenge and made the most out of some difficult shooting scenarios, others failed to deliver. Ultimately, Thabiso Makhubela, Shannon Leibach and Zikhona Mda, as the worst-performing contestants of the episode, were given some tough love by judges Jeannie D, DJ Fresh and Patience Stevens.

Thabiso struggled to wow the directors with his insert exploring the a river cruise. His double-barrelled questions confused his subject which ultimately became his shortfall during the insert. Shannon, the Disney fanatic, attempted to take viewers on the perfect first date by giving audiences tips and tricks they need to win over their crush. However, Shannon’s attempt to connect with the viewers at home appeared too forceful and unnatural which ultimately hampered the quality of his insert. However, it was Zikhona’s inability to make the most out of her interaction with the resort’s reluctant lemurs which ultimately saw her booted from the competition.

The judges explained that there were a few reasons why Zikhona was first to be eliminated. “The shoot really frustrated me a lot because it looked like you weren’t present at all. When the lemurs eventually ran out, it was a non-event for you. You did not capture that moment which I thought was just a lost TV moment unfortunately,” Jeannie explained. DJ Fresh added that “My main concern with you was so many wasted opportunities in terms of what else you could have given us regarding what’s happening around you. I feel like you slept on quite a bit of it.” Lastly, Patience Stevens explained that sometimes shoots don’t always go one’s way but working with what you have is important. “The lemurs weren’t cooperating,” she said. “That was a moment for you to elicit empathy from your audience at home. But you did not make that moment happen for me.”

Naturally, Zikhona is devastated at being the first contestant to be eliminated. “I can’t believe that this is the end of my journey,” she says. “I will take in everything that I have learnt, and everything everyone has told me whether it’s crew or producers and I am really grateful for it. I feel sad that the journey is over, but I don’t feel it is the end.”

Q&A With Zikhona Mda

What has been the highlight of your time on Presenter Search on 3?

The master classes were definitely my highlight. To actually get a taste of what it would be like working on the set of the show I wanted to be part of was a fantastic experience. To also have gotten to experience live television and to leave with the knowledge that I handled myself well in these particular challenges is a good feeling. This also makes me even hungrier for a studio show.

What has been the biggest lesson this experience has taught you?

Depending on what show you want to be part of, you will have to deliver your inserts in very specific ways. Delivering inserts in 10 seconds bursts is quite challenging. I’m more of a 20- 30 seconds kind of girl. Basically, you don’t have to try so hard, keep things short and simple. In a competition setting such as this, we tend to do the opposite because we are trying to prove ourselves so you tend to think more is better.

How would you describe your presenting style?

Natural, warm and conversational with the ability to draw an audience in and capture their attention.

You auditioned both in 2012 and 2015. How do you think your presenting skills have grown since then?

They have grown quite a bit. I have learned to slow down and tell a story rather than blurting out words. Speaking is not a race but a conversation. My focus now is on connecting and engaging the audience and speaking with purpose. If I am speaking, I want to be saying something, and not just speaking for the sake of speaking.

What would your ideal show be to host?

Now that Afternoon Express is out the window, I would like to host an interactive show. I am quite an active person and enjoy doing stuff and making things. I’m quite handsy in general. I would enjoy a show which is a combination of having a conversation while doing something interesting.

Now that your time on the show has come to an end, what is the next chapter for you?

At the moment, the next chapter is still unwritten. You kind of have to put your life on hold when you are in the competition. I am opening myself up to new opportunities. After the competition I find myself in a space of wanting to do more. I am more motivated to do the things have been wanting to do, things I have been putting off. Now that the presenting bug has bit I am afraid that there is no turning back from that. I will continue to pursue this new-found avenue in my career. Look out for my new website and blog which I am launching in July ( A few projects will stem out from this space. Be sure to follow me on my social media platforms for more updates.

Catch Presenter Search on 3, currently in a 20:30 timeslot during the World Cup, but returning to 19:30 from 19 July, on SABC3.

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