“As part of isiZulu greetings, we say ‘Sanibona’ (‘We see you’). We also say ‘Sikhona’ (‘We are here’).

We’re all connected by a need to be seen, to be listened to and acknowledged. This simple insight into humanity has enabled 31-year-old Refiloe Lepere to succeed in her various pursuits.

As a playwright and director she brings out the best in her cast by writing their personal stories into her productions. Lepere describes her production style as “democratic” and calls her work “docu-theatre”.

Her master’s degree in drama therapy from New York University is based on enabling social and personal change through performance. In 2015 Lepere was chosen as one of The Media Online’s Top 40 under 40 in the media for her work as online editor of Drum Magazine and then Sunday World.

In just six months, she grew the online readership of Sunday World by 600 000 unique visitors.

Her secret? Establishing a more interactive journalism style that published readers’ stories and reflections as content.

Lepere is now resident dramaturge at the State Theatre in Pretoria and lectures at her alma mater, the Wits University Drama School. She also freely shares her media and storytelling know-how through workshops for high-school students.