No overnight success: Trevor Noah’s rise to stardom

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Johannesburg – Many people may look at Trevor Noah and assume that his rise to stardom was a quick one. It’s easy to think about the comedian’s career and only picture the last three years of his life. Those have been, in the eyes of the world, his most successful thus far.

But the truth is, Trevor has been hard at work since he was a teenager.

So, how did a young boy from a South African township grow up to become a rising Hollywood star with the world at his feet?

We take a look at Trevor Noah’s rise to success.

Humble beginnings

Born to a black mother of Xhosa descent and a white father of Swiss-German ancestry on 20 February 1984, Trevor Noah’s mixed-race background was one that was shunned during the Apartheid years.

The star is known to often turn his childhood tales, both tragic and beautiful, into comedy gold, speaking about his parents’ forbidden love and what it was like growing up in a racially diverse family in many of his shows.

The world came to know Trevor’s story, not only through his stand-up material, but also through his autobiography Born A Crime.

In a 2016 interview with Forbes magazine, Trevor spoke about his struggles as a child, noting that even though he grew up poor it never concerned him “because everybody around me was poor, too.”

The star says it was only later on in his life when he met people who had considerably more than he did, that he realised the gravity of his situation as a child.

No overnight success

Trevor’s first notable breakthrough in the local entertainment industry was in 2002 when, at the age of 18, he landed a role on popular soapie Isidingo.
Now 34 years old, the star’s accomplishments are far too many to count in just one breath.

After his short stint on Isidingo, Trevor tried his hand at radio, hosting a show on YFM called Noah’s Ark. But television is where he spent most of his time in the beginning of his career.

Yes, getting behind the camera as a presenter was not new territory to Trevor when he landed his job at The Daily Show. His list of on-screen appearances includes hosting The Real Goboza in 2007, presenting the SABC sports show Siyadlala, co-hosting SABC 1 dating game show The Amazing Date with Pabi Moloi in 2008, and of course, hosting his very own late-night talk show on M-Net titled Tonight with Trevor Noah.

Inspired by shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with Conan O’Brien and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Tonight with Trevor Noah saw the comedian invite popular South African stars to have a seat on his couch while he interviewed them with the same expertise and touch of humour he still displays today.