Young, Gifted & Killing It: Amahle “Jaxx” Jaxa
by Veli Ngubane (@TheNduna) This month we interview Queenstown-born Amahle “Jaxx” Jaxa (@Jaxx_Amahle), who is currently chief of operations at Until Until while studying towards a BA in politics, philosophy and economics through UNISA. The 25-year-old shares her opinions on how the industry is doing in terms of transformation and how women are portrayed in the media.
Veli Ngubane: Tell us more about yourself: where did you grow up and what did you want to be when you were growing up?
Amahle Jaxa: I grew up in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape riding bikes and climbing trees, being the complete opposite of what a girl should be. My weekends were spent in the rural area of eJojweni with my grandparents, milking cows, going on adventures and cooking outside — a contrast of what my week looked like in the suburbs. When I was younger, I was convinced I was going to be president; I had a keen interest in politics from a young age.
VN: Tell us what you do and what does a typical day look like for you?
AJ: I am chief of operations at Until Until and a typical day for me is doing the finances and admin of Until Until. When there is an event, I am an events manager and help with the planning and coordinating of the event with two assistants from Until Until who are part of the events team. I also study, so half of my day is dedicated to my studies. I am in my third year of a BA (politics, philosophy and economics) through UNISA.
VN: Tell us more about Until Until and its future plans.
AJ: Until Until is a marketing, brand activations and events company. It is divided into three parts: Until Until Events, which is self-explanatory in that we host our own events and host events for brands; Until Until Thinking, which does strategy and marketing for brands; and, finally, Until Until Ambient, which does activations for brands. We have established ourselves as an events agency and now we look to establish ourselves as an advertising agency helping brands though honest creativity. We look to support brands in their attempt to tap into the youth market.
VN: There is a buzz word, “culture”, in referring to the youth market: what is “culture” and how can brands align with the “culture”?
AJ: I actually hate the word “culture” because I feel like it’s being used for any and everything and no one can actually tell you what they mean when they say, for example, “Do it for the culture.” Who is the culture? What is culture? Who is the message directed to? it is misleading. Brands need to pick their target market and market to them instead of trying to capture everyone under the guise of “culture”.
VN: What are brands doing right in their pursuit to win over the youth?
AJ: Coca-Cola’s collaboration with Rich Mnisi and others is not only empowering young designers but making luxury items made by these designers affordable. Castle Lite is also doing well in bringing international acts that resonate with the youth.
VN: How can the creative industry attract and keep more black female creatives?
AJ: The creative industry first needs to hire black women before they can work on strategies to keep them.
VN: Why do you think the advertising industry is struggling to transform and what do you think should be done to fast-track transformation in the advertising and events industry?
AJ: The advertising industry is struggling to transform because the people [who] are hired do not reflect the majority of the country and therefore, they cannot market to the majority of the country. The industry hasn’t understood the South African market and that leads to the failure of properly articulating their message to the market. Black people are known to love music and dancing, but that does not mean every cellphone company advert or washing powder advert should have black people dancing. The way to transform it is to hire more young, black people who understand the South African market.
VN: I’m interested in your thoughts on how women are portrayed at events, on TV and in adverts and what you, as a female creative, are doing to change how women are represented?
AJ: Women in events are always sexualised and objectified. On flyers, their bums are exposed; in clubs, they are dancers dressed provocatively; and, when they hold positions of power like myself, they are undermined by their male counterparts. On TV they are always portrayed as a housewife or looking for a man; very few adverts target an independent woman. As a female creative, I hope I represent a woman who can not only lead women but men as well. I represent independence in that no man in my life has ever given me anything and that I have gotten to where I am on my own merit. I do not conform to the ideas that woman should be in heels or wear makeup every day because that is unrealistic. I hope in the future to employ only women and teach them that their beauty is but an aide to their brains.
VN: What advice would you give someone completing their high-school education this year and looking to follow a career in the creative industry?
AJ: Any young person should know that, without an education, life is harder. Patience is needed in the creative industry because there are so many moving parts; it’s not like working in a bank where every day is the same. You have to be extremely reliable because the creative industry works a lot on referrals. You are easily replaceable; therefore ,you have to work hard — as you would in any job, I guess.
VN: What do you feel is missing in the creative industry today and what should the future look like in South Africa and the rest of the continent?
AJ: Relatability and new ideas.
VN: Where and when do you have your best ideas?
AJ: Every and anywhere; as long as I have my team with me, the best ideas come out. We could be at the club, having lunch or at the office. My creativity flows through Until Until more than an actual place.
VN: If you had a super power, what would you want it to be?
AJ: I would be Superman. Everything. One is not enough
VN: Tell us something about yourself not generally known?
AJ: Everyone sees me as a tough person who rarely shows their emotions and only my mom knows that I am really emotional and a hopeless romantic.
VN: What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?
AJ: [At the time of the interview, we were] working on #GenesisAllBlack which [was] on 20 April 2019, and have started planning for next year’s Bacardi Holiday Club. Agency-wise, we are working on an awareness campaign about drinking and driving that will hopefully impact the youth of South Africa
VN: Brag a bit: what is your career highlight to date; awards, brands you’ve worked on… don’t be shy, tell us.
AJ: My proudest moment is when we managed to pull off two gala events for BRICS, which solidified us in the corporate world and showed the masses that we don’t just host parties for young people. Another exciting moment was when we first got a stage at Ultra and Oppikoppi.
VN: Please would you supply two or three pieces of work you have been involved in?
For more, please check our website: www.untiluntilgroup.com.
Veli Ngubane (@TheNduna) entered the world of advertising with a passion after completing his BSocSci (law, politics and economics) at UCT and a post-graduate marketing diploma at Red & Yellow, where he’s currently advisory board chairman. He also sits on the IAB’s Transformation & Education Council, is a DMA board member and Loeries, APEX, Pendoring, Bookmarks and AdFocus. He is the group MD of AVATAR, one of the largest black-owned and managed integrated agency offering in South Africa. In his monthly column “Young, Gifted & Killing It”, he profiles award-winning, kick-ass black creative talent in South Africa.
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