“I love people. I love stories.” How Jeannie D turned her passion into a career

 
 
 

Jeannie D has earned her place in the hearts of South Africans. But she didn’t get to where she is alone. The television presenter, whose full name is Jeannie De Gouveia, has relied on a strong support system in her family to succeed. In particular, it’s her aunts and grandmothers who have shown her the value of women standing behind other women.

De Gouveia was still a child when she made the decision to pursue a life of performance. “I loved people, I loved stories,” she says. “So from a young age I was really engaged in understanding what it is that I wanted to do and I only focused on that.” After successfully auditioning at the National School of the Arts at the age of 12, she took lessons in speech, drama, dance, and physical theatre. When she began her BA in Communications, she discovered the thrill of radio. In between coursework and winning university beauty pageants, De Gouveia lent her voice to the campus radio station. It gave her a clearer idea of what she needed to do, even though it meant dropping out of university. She moved to Cape Town at the age of 18, securing a spot on Good Hope FM and cutting her teeth in the graveyard shift. But after just two months, De Gouveia earned her own show.

When De Gouveia left radio in 2006, it was just the beginning of another rise in her career, this time in television. She got a start as a presenter on Top Billing, which soon led to hosting Top Travel as well as Afternoon Express. Juggling three shows is hard work, but De Gouveia takes it in her stride. “I don’t care about fame; I care about doing good work,” she says. And this is exactly what she does, inspiring her audience in the process. “I always think if there’s one thing I can do, I want people around me to feel their best selves,” she says. In particular, she’s using her role in the spotlight to send a clear message to women who see themselves in her: “You can have it all.”