Average read time: 5 minutes.
From a breakthrough role in popular South African soapie Muvhango, which opened the door to work on other shows including Rhythm City and The Estate, Jo-Anne Reyneke has more recently shown her funny side as Thuli on the hilarious Black Tax, a co-production between BET Africa and Showmax. Fresh off the launch of the sitcom’s second season, she shares her career lessons, the importance of embracing her individuality, and some of her favourite things.
Black Tax has given you the chance to do comedy after quite a few dramatic roles. Why do you like making people laugh?
JR: I’ve always leaned towards being funny and laughing about things. In terms of roles, tragedy and drama found me first so I ran with that, as you do when you’re trying to become a success in Joburg. For the longest time, no one even knew that I don’t take myself seriously, that I’m much more the fun type of person than a deep thinker. But because of all the characters I’ve spent 11 years playing, people had almost made up the person they thought I was. I feel like Black Tax finally got to introduce a major part of myself, which is about being happy and choosing to laugh about things rather than cry about them, which is how I was raised.
What makes the second season of Black Tax so special?
JR: In the second season Thuli and her family have moved house into a complex which obviously comes with neighbours. We’ve introduced a new family that is facing a unique case of black tax. We often associate black tax with females, but a lot of males are going through the same thing. So, we’re introducing a bigger world and another perspective of black tax in season 2.
What’s the most important career lesson you’ve learned so far?
JR: To strive to be original. In the age of TikTok, everyone wants to look the same and do the same challenge in the same way. I don’t understand why nobody is inspired to be different and start their own thing. In this industry, I feel like you stand out when you don’t remind anyone of anyone else. Whatever you’ve been bullied about or told is the funny thing about you is probably what you should lean in towards because nobody else will have that in the industry. Be different at all costs.
How do you find the courage to be different when everybody expects you to fit a certain mold?
JR: It definitely comes with time and growing older. Most of us went through the people-pleasing phase of our lives where we wanted to fit in with that crew. But the older you get, the louder you inside you become. You need to go through each phase but eventually, you have no choice other than to attend to yourself, to find out about yourself and finally, to be yourself.
What are some of your favourite things? What are your main hobbies?
JR: I’m very much a tomboy but I play a lot of “ladies” on TV so people never get to experience that. What shocks my friends the most are actually the girly hobbies that I have. I love doing make-up, I’ll do makeup on anyone, a gogo, my best friends, a stranger. I love dressing people up, styling them, and doing their hair. I’m also an amazing cook.
Your favourite books?
JR: I love the Spud series, I read all the books in about three days. I love the Trevor Noah book, Born A Crime. I enjoy any true story told from the point of view of the person it happened to – it almost sounds like they’re just speaking to you – those are the books I just fly through.
Regular restaurants and hangouts?
Upcoming holiday destinations?
JR: I was in Durban over the holiday season because my family is from Pietermaritzburg, so we went to be with them. I’m also looking forward to going to The Maldives next year with my lady friends. I feel like that’s the “it place” right now. I prefer an island beach vacation.
JR: Right now, I’m loving our former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi. She’s sweet and humble, she seems like she’s so grounded and then strikingly beautiful, it’s all a bit too much, so I’m scared to meet her – I don’t want to fangirl.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?
Definitely being a mother to my children – my girl is eight and my boy is six. They’re best friends and they fight like best friends too (laughs). I can’t explain it but ever since I was about 15-years-old, I’ve wanted to be a mother.
I’m such a free-spirited person so I didn’t think such a lifelong commitment would come so easily, but it just has. Being a mom has made me really happy and I’ve had to figure myself out sooner rather than later because you don’t want to push your unsolved issues onto your kids. Motherhood has been such a fulfilling journey; it’s completed me as a person. I’m very proud of what I’ve done onscreen and for my family, but being a mother tops it all.
Watch the trailer for season 2 of Black Tax here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z8FLyGx1XE
Words | Gillian Klawansky @GillianKlawansky
Editor | Nikki Temkin @Nikkitemkin
Images | Jo-Anne Reyneke portraits: Kevin Mark Pass
Black Tax image courtesy of Rous House Productions
Topo Gigio and The Station images courtesy of the restaurants