Jeannie D: A Wonder Woman of our time

2014-08-08 11:14

Cape Town – It’s just another typical day in Jeannie D’s life.  She’s just arrived back in SA after her first holiday in 10 years, she’s done five flights in the last three days and she hasn’t even had breakfast yet. But just by looking at the bubbly beauty sitting across from me in the luxurious lounge on the second floor of the Taj Cape Town hotel, I would’ve never guessed it. Dressed in an olive green off the shoulder dress and brown leather boots, Jeannie looks absolutely flawless with no sign of being even a bit tired.


"How do you do it!?" I ask.

She laughs. "I’ve always wanted to do this, my whole life." Ever since Jeannie was a little girl growing up in Johannesburg, she knew exactly where she was going in life. "The funny thing is my aunt and uncle would always be there with their camera. The other day they showed me a little video. I was 7 or 8 years old walking around the house pretending that I was a Top Billing presenter, and I was like completely dissing their curtains, like; 'What were you thinking with these drapes!'"

"Have you ever considered doing anything else?" I ask.

"I can’t say. I’ve been doing this since I can remember. I’ve never actually had anything to fall back on. I can’t count, so anything academic wouldn’t have been an option," Jeannie says jokingly.

The X factor:

For Jeannie, travelling is part of the job. "It’s exhausting, but still enjoyable. It’s easy to become used to travelling well, so with Top Travel and Top Billing you’re exposed to first class and business class. Then it’s easy to travel. It’s when you pay for your own ticket and you’re stuck at the back with the chickens that you go, 'Ah, I can’t bear travelling!'" she laughs.

"Having travelled the world, would you ever move overseas and leave SA behind?"

"Well, I’m still waiting for E! to phone me and say, Guliana Rancic’s retiring and offer me her job, but I’m not quite sure if that’s going to happen ... SA is an incredible country and Cape Town is an amazing city, and after travelling the world I’d really say that this is the one place I’d like to live forever. But you never know what happens, Simon Cowell can give me a job tomorrow, and I’d probably not say no. And I’d never like to live in London, not my favourite place. But if Simon phones and I need to host X Factor, well! So long good weather!"

Being in the spotlight:

Jeannie’s laugh and positive attitude is infectious. She recently launched her own perfume, Jeannie In A Bottle, she’s currently busy writing a TV show and she’ll also be trying her hand at producing TV shows for her media company.

"It can’t be easy to constantly live in the spotlight. How do you handle fans when you’re enjoying personal time and get approached by them?" I ask.

"I don’t mind people approaching me. I will never turn down a fan for a photograph or an autograph, and I’m really good at that. The minute someone wants a photograph, even if I’m rushing through an airport, I’ll take the time to take a picture.

"I don’t always know the people who ask for a photo. But they know me from TV. So they feel like they've met me before." She laughs, "They forget that I don’t have a clue who they are. They could be an axe murderer for all I know!"


Bucket list:

Desmond Tutu, Liam Neeson and Julie Andrews are just a few of Jeannie's most memorable interviews, while Eminem is still on her bucket list.

"Eminem?" I ask.

"He's just such a fascinating character, and for someone who really shouldn’t have done well in his life, if you look where he comes from, he’s such a brilliant, brilliant mind," she says. "I did once say in an interview that Eminem is the Shakespeare of our generation, and people lambasted me, saying 'How offensive!' I was just like go read his lyrics dammit!"

Taking it in her stride:

Wanting to get under wonder woman's skin, I ask: "Do you EVER get down days and how do you deal with them?"

"I wouldn’t say I get down days, but sometimes when I’m hungry I get a bit moody," she laughs. Like any other girl Jeannie also gets those days where she doubts herself and doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin. "Of course I’m normal, but I’m really quite fortunate to be around people that help me snap out of it very quickly. I’m not going to mope about it, because if I’m going to mope I’m going to get more of that negativity." Probably the best advice ever!

Constantly being in the public eye, especially being a woman, means a lot of scrutiny. And for Jeannie it's no different. "It’s not easy, everyone has an opinion, one week I’m too thin, next week I’m too fat. I’ve really gotten over trying to please everybody.

"I’m just like any other girl, sometimes my weight yoyo's, but I really don’t care, because if I’m going to Italy I’m going to eat pasta and I’m going to eat the ice-cream. It’s just about keeping happy and feeding your soul with what’s happy.

"I think people must chill out a bit more and think about what will make them happy. And then I get comments, like 'You’re head’s to big for your body', and I go, 'Thank you!' It’s really not an insult, not if you know what I had for dinner last night!" Jeannie laughs.

(Photos: Herman Eloff, Channel24)

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Special thanks to Taj Cape Town hotel for hosting the interview.

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