Updated: Jun 9
As a South African native, born in the small town of Willowvale, which fell under an independent pseudo-state during Apartheid, Sakhe Jele is a witness to the country’s underrepresented communities and lack of extracurricular activities for young individuals. To keep himself occupied, he learned how to play the church piano. Little did he know that this would spark his interest in becoming a video editor, screenwriter, and director.
He later moved to Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, to pursue a career in music. There, he obtained a sound engineering diploma. During that time, he found his passion for storytelling.
Sakhe received his sound engineering diploma in 2004 and began his professional editing career as a trainee in 2005. During the early part of his career, Sakhe took every opportunity he could get, regardless of his salary, because his first dream in the entertainment industry was to see his name on the credit roll on television.
Over the years, Sakhe edited videos in various genres, including lifestyle, wildlife, kid shows, faith-based shows, talk shows, and sports. But his curiosity about the entertainment industry continues to grow.
“Not only do I wait for people to bring me content to edit, but I also wanted to partake in producing stories. That’s how you get to artistically express yourself fully and touch lives,” he said.
Speaking of touching lives, in 2014, Sakhe focused on bridging the gap between Hollywood and the South African entertainment industry.
“I know that television and film have the power to impact viewers’ social fabric and bring dignity to the stories of the underrepresented communities too because their lives/stories are also valid” Sakhe shared.
After realigning his focus, Sakhe has begun to shoot, direct, and write projects that align with his beliefs. This 2022, he shot six-part documentaries in South Africa, which he is currently editing. Meanwhile, Sakhe is also extending his reach to the US, particularly in Los Angeles, as he partnered with PinMark Media to develop a show which profiles immigrants from Southern Africa and the ways they contribute to cultural exchange in the US.
Sakhe has just been headhunted to co-produce and handle matters relating to post-production in a new show titled, Breaking Bands (working title). The show is a docu series which captures the story of talented dreamers who make their way from all over the US to pursue careers in music. The show pays homage to Los Angeles as a city with so many success stories to tell and full of potential even post Covid to remain the hub for new artists to break out. This series promises to be a huge global success, there’s already plans to have a South African version of the show which is another huge contributing factor that Sakhe brings to the show as co-producer and video editor.
Part of the skills that make Sakhe effective in influencing two different cultures is his experience, and he speaks five other languages, including English. His exposure to multicultural life in South Africa and all his travels also helps him understand the importance of nuance in his career in the entertainment industry.
Moreover, Sakhe’s work and life experiences also encouraged him to develop his talents beyond video editing. His interest in storytelling and creativity led him to take on the responsibility of editor, screenwriter, and producer. He believes in the ability of video editors like him to branch out, which is why he transferred to California State University, Northridge, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in screenwriting.
Sakhe continues to achieve new heights in his career and mission while raising the banner of South African entertainment. As he continues to progress, he inspires more people to hone their talents to go beyond their comfort zones and appreciate language and cultural preservation through the entertainment industry.