Already a household name after an impressive stint on MNET Idols in 2008, Liezel van der Westhuizen is currently taking both the South African entertainment and personal branding scenes by storm – and now significantly as a Virtual Speaker as well.

She is a:

  • With a lauded vocal dexterity which is evident in her work as a voice-over artist, over a decade of acting and meritorious presenting experience in film and television and furthermore, the success of her body of work with top local and international production companies, is beyond reproach.
  • She is a renowned international emcee and keynote speaker, who has been intrinsically tied to the success of hundreds of events around the world through her ability to captivate any audience across a variety of industries.

Her relaxed smile, smooth and professional working manner, and her impeccable style, has made her one of the most sought-after presenters and emcees in the country – the digital space included!

Liezel kicked off her public speaking and Emcee career over a decade ago and, to date, has hosted more than 500 events across South Africa and internationally. She has won bronze and silver awards as a member of the Toastmaster’s Society, and is often invited to give motivational talks, covering topics such as: “Beat the Bully”, “Empowering Women”, “Finding Your Inner Strength” and “Personal Brand Personified”.

Coupled with a drive for success and an incredible work ethic in everything she does, it is no wonder the sky is the limit for this unique talent.

If the brand fits…

Liezel was once cattily nicknamed ‘The Giraffe’ by designer Craig Jacobs, in his Sunday Times society column in 2009. She, and her statuesque sister Monique, stole the spotlight in killer heels that had them towering over other attendees at a Radisson Blu fashion event.

Although the moniker was not meant to be entirely flatteringly at the time, this entrepreneurs ingenuity went on to incorporate the label into everything she does, including the eponymously titled The Giraffe Brand Academy, which she launched soon after. This inventiveness which reflects Liezel’s unending personal drive to offer value to those around her, began as a means of assisting business folk all over the world, to build powerful and authentic personal brands.

The truth of Liezel’s diligent and tech savvy, is evident in:

  • The successful rise of hundreds of businesses around the world,
  • The development of more visible entrepreneurs and thought-leaders online, and
  • A wealth of opportunities seized and fulfilled.

The way in which Liezel handled this particular occurrence and, in fact, turned it to her advantage, is a powerful testament to her experience in the personal branding niche. This is someone who can clearly assist organisations and individuals, alike, to turn negative publicity into something wonderfully positive.

The dynamic perspective Liezel chose to take, as opposed to wallowing in the flighty words of others, is a powerful testament to her experience in the personal branding niche. This is someone who can clearly assist organisations and individuals to turn negative publicity into something wonderfully positive.

She won’t even let something like Covid-19s socioeconomic effects stop her and her plans for towering above the rest because Liezel has now added Virtual Speaker to her repertoire.

Powerhouse presenter

Liezel is the second woman in the world to present the reality television singing competition, Idols. She became a familiar face on the popular competitive music show during Seasons five and six. At the same time she was a presenter on SABC3’s daily breakfast show, Expresso.

She has also presented TV shows for channels SABC3, SuperSport, SABC Sport, MNET, DSTV and SABC 2, and lists her career highlights as IdolsExpressoThe Lunchbox and Soundcheck.

Currently she maintains her daily fitness feature on KFM radio as well as her beloved Fitness Fridays feature on Cape Talk (a radio station that is broadcast in Cape Town). For those seeking more streamlined fitness information daily, Liezel has become the trusted Virtual Gig Guide for the hottest daily workouts which she researches (or tries by recommendation) and shortlists on her social media platforms – this seasoned Speaker is also cultivating a digital presence resonating to more than 100 000 people.

With so much going for her it’s hard to believe it has been just a few years since Liezel was “discovered” by Jacaranda FM, after the programme manager heard her working as a Makro announcer, following her TUKSFM apprenticeship.

Global village

“I began my radio life at TuksFM and was well and truly hooked on the joys of being able to use media to connect with people,” Liezel explains. While working for TUksFM radio station, she received a job offer from EMI Music South Africa to become their international Public Relations manager – a development that saw her being introduced to, and working with, an array of global music stars.

An 18-month stint as an SABC3 continuity presenter, and presenter of the lunchtime show Lunchbox, led to even greater prospects for the towering talent. The television singing competition, Idols, confirming her rise to the top. In 2010, Liezel launched SoundCheck Live on MNET, before starting her work on Expresso, and she also found time to make her spirited on-screen debut in the films ‘The Race-ist’ and ‘Hollywood in my Huis‘.

Beauty and brains

With her professional style and ease of conversation, it will come as no surprise that Liezel has a spree of degrees, namely: Communication Management degree from the University of Pretoria, a BCom degree in Human Resources and Industrial Psychology, and both a BCom Honours and an MCom in Communication Management and, since 2000 she has been a member of Toastmaster’s International. These commendable accomplishments make her one of the most qualified Virtual Speakers you can book right now.

Grabbing life with both hands

Liezel manages to find time to work as a voiceover artist, and has an impressive portfolio of television and radio voiceover work to showcase that underpins her other exploits. It all comes back to a drive within her that was ultimately inspired by her grandmother’s fight against Cancer.

“My gran being diagnosed with Cancer was a big life-changer. I even shaved off my long hair, and went bald for a year in support of her. I now keep my hair short in memory of her and as a reminder that life is short. Before my gran passed away, she told me to grab every opportunity in life and [to] enjoy every moment.”

Fitness feats for charity

Liezel’s commitment to bettering the lives of people, extends far beyond her world. She was invited to tandem cycle with a visually-impaired triathlete across the Himalaya mountains while raising funds for Operation Smile and OneSight and during this challenging venture she proceeded to break records, all while challenging her body and mind to the limits. Her sports and fitness endeavours, can always be linked to her enthusiasm for the world around her, and her generous nature.

In 2012 and 2013, Liezel partnered with Canoeing SA’s high-performance coach, Greg van Heerden, to finish the toughest canoe marathon in the world – the Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon.

Liezel keeps a healthy fitness regime, training six times a week on the road (running and cycling) and in the pool. This rigorous training has enabled her to take part in Nestle’s Triathlon team that went on to complete the gruelling Full Ironman Triathlon in 2010 (this involves a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and a 42.2km run).

The ocean – and its preservation – hold a special place in Liezel’s heart. She loves to swim, stand-up paddle board and surfski and is, impressively, a certified Nitrox Enriched Air scuba diver. Liezel recently gained her skipper’s license, after practising during a sailing fitcation in the Seychelles archipelago, which saw her entering and winning – on her return – the Mercedes Benz Ladies Race at the Royal Cape Yacht Club.

She was one of the Top 8 finalist in the 2007 Shape/Sanex Cover girl competition, was voted number 56 in the FHM Hot 100 Sexiest Women in the World competition – and again in 2009 – and received a nomination in the Heat Hot 100 competition in both years.

The sport-schooling solution

Stylish and professional, Liezel made number four on designer Simon Rademon’s Best-Dressed Women’s list in SA in 2008, and was also nominated for an Olay SA Iconic Woman award that year too. She is passionate about the environment, is an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Glass Recycling South Africa, and gives back in a big way.

“I am involved with a charity in Cape Town called Velokaya – it’s a not-for-profit organisation based in Khayelithsha that employs a range of holistic, education-based cycling programmes. I believe sport and schooling go hand in hand. I am passionate about South Africa and educating our learners.”

Emphasising her creativity and skill with the digital world, Liezel is the first person in the country to have ridden a bicycle powered entirely by social media (a custom-fitted techno wonder bike) for the dedicated purpose of raising funds for Khayelitsha’s Velokhaya Life cycling academy. With the help of public “likes” and Pick n Pay, she was able to donate 20 bicycles to the academy – an organisation which, just like Liezel, believes sport is able to give our youth the skills they need for a happy and successful future.

Over and above her multiple ground breaking achievements, it is Liezel’s radiant personality and uncompromising determination to impact lives, which truly draws in audiences. A talented public speaker, Liezel remains passionate about helping people to reach their full potential. Her calling, therefore, involves travelling around South Africa – and safely flying internationally– so as to deliver motivational talks and keynote addresses on topics that her audiences describe as valuable and up to the minute.