With an extensive career in TV, film and radio, Jo da Silva has received multiple nominations in both ‘Best Supporting’ and ‘Best Actress’ categories.
Jo is best remembered by her theatre audiences in some of Pieter Torien’s productions such as ‘Burning Blue’, ‘Love Julie’, the award-winning ‘My Fat Friend’ and ‘Maybe Baby It’s You’ – which she won the ‘Best Actress’ award from the Cape Vita’s.
A cancer survivor, a single mom, cat owner and a seasoned actress, Jo keeps her tongue firmly in her cheek and combines wit, warmth and wisdom in all that she does – a professional speaker and an MC, Jo da Silva tells us a little bit more about herself:
So how did Jo start her professional speaking career?
“Friends and colleagues within the communities that I represent have nagged me silly for years … I was so often booked as a training facilitator or MC and inevitably, my personal stories became a part of that job description … it became a natural growth”
Speaking is just one of the many things that Jo does; she’s a “chief cook and a bottle washer most of the time” … Being a single mother comes first for Jo, then her full time job as an actress followed by serving her community of choice as well as writing, directing, creating … “as long as I am part of a creative process and part of a process of change, I am happy”.
Jo has been speaking for most of her life but has only recently been actively marketing herself – “I have been asked to speak at functions for years but always through a friend of a friend … I finally decided to get serious about it and join the 21st century!”
“I love seeing people’s faces as they ‘get it’ and I love hearing them laugh” says Jo. “As an actress, a performance happens in the dark … you hear your audience and there is a connection of energy but you don’t necessarily see them and you are busy pretending to be someone else”
“When you perform on camera, you don’t have the warmth of the immediate audience – when I do speaking engagements, I get to be me … it is my stories I am telling and not a fictitious character’s … to be able to help people; that’s incredible! … We laugh a lot and sometimes cry a little … there is always a queue to speak to me afterwards and they are the people that I connect with the most. They inspire me and leave me feeling re-energised!”
Jo believes that she hasn’t changed since she has started speaking but her topics have definitely changed as she has grown and learned more about herself: “growing up isn’t for sissies” she says.
A ‘perfectionist workaholic’, Jo pushes herself “beyond limits far too often … I had to learn to find balance the hard way”. She is never satisfied with her work either; “I am convinced the talent police are around the corner … “
We asked Jo why she believes that she has succeeded in a particular field where so many others have failed; “Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn and professional no matter what!” she says. “People forget that sometimes, manners and professionalism leaves a lasting memory … I announced that I would be an actress at the age of 3 … I’m still here 40 years later, I guess that makes me stubborn and determined”
She also believes that the ‘formula to success’ is to “follow what you are passionate about and to commit to it with all your heart; success will find you …”
Some fun facts about Jo:
⦁ Jo’s celebrity crush : Martin Freeman
⦁ Jo is currently hooked on BBC’s Sherlock as well as The Blacklist and The Following – “brilliant performances and story writing all round” she says.
⦁ She has many hobbies but little time to pursue them: “I love working with my hands so any craft keeps me happy as I can’t sit still for long. I also love cooking – that must be the Portuguese part kicking in”
⦁ Jo’s hero is her grandmother who served in WW2 as a nurse in the front lines in Europe – “She came home with medals for bravery and nightmares for life but she never turned her back on anyone who needed help”.
⦁ The song that best describes Jo’s work ethic: ‘Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to work I go …”
Lastly, we asked Jo what advice she would give to anyone looking at joining the professional speakers’ circuit: “Only talk about what you know and what you care about”.
Fans can catch Jo playing ‘Gita’ (South Africa’s most ‘Hated Woman in the History of South African Television’) every weeknight from 18:27pm to 19:00pm on SABC 2.