South African Successes in the USA

by Nov 13, 20200 comments

There is something unique about the USA. It is a country where dreams come alive and opportunity breathes freely. It is also a place where South Africans have found great success. Whether innovating in their sector, performing to millions, or breaking barriers on the field, South Africans are shining beacons of triumph across many walks of life.

South Africans in Business in the USA

Cromwell Schucarch, while presenting Biz Journal’s 2012 Executive of the Year Awards, said: “Here’s something interesting, something that didn’t occur to us at the time: all the executives selected are originally from South Africa.” He was referring to the winners of the award – Elon Musk, Paul Maritz, and Lyndon Rive – who are South Africans who have gone to the States and found international claim in their fields. Each has emerged as a uniquely successful executive through his personal combination of ability, dedication, and perseverance. Perhaps the most well known of the three, Elon Musk is the visionary founder of PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla. Paul Maritz worked on the Executive Committee of Microsoft, and currently serves as the chairman of Pivotal Software, while Lyndon Rive founded SolarCity, which was acquired by Tesla.

South Africans across the spectrum have made a significant impact. The country has produced successes that range from a Stanford Business School Dean (Garth Saloner) to a Massachusetts Chief Justice (Margaret H. Marshall). Unfortunately, success in the USA has been a majority white phenomenon. Of the 90,000 or so South African immigrants, only 11,000 are black. However, a growing number are making waves in their pursuit of the American Dream.

Entertainment Moguls and Icons

Trevor Noah replaced Jon Stewart in 2014 as the host of The Daily Show. Noah shot to international stardom after getting his break while appearing as the first South African comedian on The Tonight Show and The David Letterman Show. The Daily Show has gone from strength to strength under Noah, who has subsequently become one of the most recognizable faces on late night television. His natural charm and charisma have resulted in a large following both in the USA and around the world. His sharp wit and affable nature will grace our screens for years to come.

Pearl Thusi, the exceptionally talented black actress, emerged as a series regular on the ABC thriller Quantico, appearing opposite Priyanka Chopra. After appearing in several local films.- including the hit Catching Feelings – she returned to the States to further her career. She has since gone on to star in her own Netflix production, Queen Sono.

Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo, better known as Black Coffee, had a break out year in 2013. After touring Germany, England and Ibiza, the resultant international exposure accelerated his career. Since then, he has headlined at Coachella and Ultra Music Festivals and collaborated with David Guetta.

From L to R: Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show; Pearl Thusi, star of Netflix’s Queen Sono; and Black Coffee

Sporting Heroes

On the sporting front, several South Africans have been trailblazers in various sporting codes. Baseball player Gift Ngoepe became the first black South African to sign a pro baseball contract in the MLB. He made an emotional first appearance for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017, after overcoming the odds to make his way to the top, . He has also played for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Gerhard de Beer, who attended the University of Arizona, entered the NFL in 2018. He was signed by the Buffalo Bills, and has spent time at multiple teams over the last few years. His decision to play American football paved the way for those who have dreams of doing the same. Not only did it establish a pathway, it also showed college coaches that South Africans can learn to play the game effectively.

Richman Mahlangu found his calling after finding a broken tennis racket on the streets of Lamontville township in Durban. After securing himself a Tennis scholarship to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he fled Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. Richman now lives in the suburbs of Las Vegas, and has spent time coaching tennis. His two sons, also tennis players, have been recruited by top university programmes at Harvard and Georgetown. Richman works as a motivational speaker and has written several books chronicling his inspiring story.

Endless Potential for Success

Opportunities are almost endless in the USA. More and more South Africans from all walks of life are taking advantage of the resources in the States to showcase their talents. Whether it is in the arts, sports, or business world, South Africans have proven time and again that they have what it takes to succeed at the highest level. As South Africa heals from the atrocities of the past, there has been an increase in access to quality education. This has produced a growing black middle class, which in turn has allowed talented African excellence to emerge. However, we are only starting to see their influence on global culture.

At Aspire Atlantic, we have made it our mission to guide and nurture the next generation of great South Africans. We do this by creating a platform to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity. This bridge helps to secure millions of Rands in USA university Scholarships. Because of this financial assistance, talented students will be able to use their skills and abilities to showcase the potential present in South Africa. South African success in the USA can become the norm, as proven by the examples above.

Remember, it’s always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree!


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