Jojo Struys and Michael Lim say “I do” in picturesque Uluwatu, Bali
Here’s the thing: You may know her as that soothing voice off the guided audio relaxation CD series Letting Go, though you’ll probably remember the vivacious Jojo Struys, 38, from the 2005 series Pillow Talk where she sweetly grilled unsuspecting guests from the absolute privacy of her studio boudoir. Ever active, she writes a monthly column in The Star newspaper; blogs; produces and hosts a regional food show; and most significantly, the princess of re-invention has always been incredibly supportive of BAZAAR’s starstudded breast cancer consciousness-raising initiative The Pink Project. She has one of the busiest schedules in the city so when she recently tied the knot with her partner of many years, Michael Lim, in a beautiful, intimate ceremony in Tirtha Uluwatu Chapel in Bali, enquiring minds wanted to know just how she found the time. And who exactly was this “mystery man” she had successfully kept under wraps for years? Catching up with BAZAAR a few weeks after their wedding, the couple talk candidly and ’fess up about love and other things.
“It’s true,” she laughs, “for a while there, some people thought I was making him up. There were hardly, if any, pictures of us online, which is pretty ironic given that I have my blog and am always on social media. But Michael’s very private and so am I, despite having spent the last decade in the entertainment industry.”
The couple met years ago on set, and TV host Daphne Iking often laughingly takes credit for hooking them up, but from the get-go Jojo says Michael was miles apart from any man she’d ever met. “He was calm, considerate, and professional beyond words.” But the truth is, the fireworks did not start there but in a work-related phone call a week later that lasted five hours. “Oh my God, we just could not stop talking to each other,” says Jojo with that infectious smile, “and girl, you know I can talk. But we had so much in common, including the fact that we had both found ourselves working in KL when really we are the both of us not from here.” Michael ended up staying to work here after trekking his way from the UK on one of those “gap-year-find-yourself-and-see-the-world journeys”, while I was born and bred in Singapore before moving to KL.” About a year later, not only were they a couple but they had started working together in a production house they started together in 2006 called Kyanite.tv and thus began a professional and personal match made in heaven.
“Says Michael, “I think I knew from the moment I met Jojo that there was a connection which I could not explain. Love is powerful and it just takes over where nothing else matters. I guess I just knew.”
Jojo laughs over the rim of her coffee mug saying, “Hmm, that’s not what you usually say.” But she admits she never thought she would get married. “I had this innate fear of commitment but Michael came along and just broke down all my barriers and old beliefs. When I got engaged, there was a total absence of fear or trepidation. Oh, and there’s a story to how he proposed, too.” At this point Michael has turned five shades of red. But of course, we need to know.
“A friend had told us of this amazing narrative from Hindu mythology that involved the Lords Ganesh and Murugan. Both brothers were challenged to race around the world for a prize and the Lord Murugan sped off on the mission while the Lord Ganesh merely walked quietly and calmly around his parents. When his parents asked what he was doing, he simply said: ‘You are my world’. He won the challenge.”
A year later on holiday for her birthday in the Hanging Gardens of Ubud, Bali, Michael took her to a beautiful secluded spot where, under a carpet of stars on a bamboo deck lit by a single flame, he walked around her three times before proposing with the words. “You are my world; will you marry me?”
Michael is shaking his head, smiling, and protesting that he’s really not that romantic even as Jojo says, “Okay, it depends entirely on your definition of romance but even though we are super busy and constantly in the throes of production or editing, he will make the time to message me even while we
Love is exploring the Mayan ruins, then diving into the Tulum Sea hand-in-hand; it’s living with a Thai hill
tribe, experiencing all life has to offer, together.
are in different offices in the same building just to tell me he loves me.”
While some say the quickest way to end a relationship is to work together, Michael has a different perspective. “I like to think that we are quality time people. If we are with each other, the activity is almost secondary. We do almost everything together: work, live, exercise, walk our pugs, to even just sitting still and listening to rain.” Here Jojo chimes in saying, “Have no fear, we have our differences and he challenges me all the time, but it makes me a better person and more professional. It’s a constructive exchange, not a destructive one, we build each other up and not tear each other down.”
Says Michael, “It is difficult to put into words how I felt that day in Bali, when Jojo became my wife. There was magic in the air, it was almost surreal. To see her smile when she saw me as she walked down the aisle, well, it got pretty emotional for me. At the time when we released a pair of doves at the end of the ceremony, I didn’t know they mate for life. Watching them fly off towards the ocean together is a moment we will always remember.”
Of course, the topic of the honeymoon crops up next and it’s a tough sell because the two have travelled so much together, especially in the filming of their soon-to-bereleased travelogue Letting Go. “Travelling is just one of the things we do really well,” reveals Michael, who co-produced the exciting project. “From exploring the Mayan ruins and spontaneously diving into the Tulum Sea, to catching the sunrise over the Ang Kor Wat or experiencing snow come up to our chests in Niseko, Japan.” Clearly, the two have had some pretty incredible escapades together, receiving a water blessing from 20 monks in the middle of a forest in Cambodia; trekking into the northern tip of Thailand to stay with a hill tribe, and even taking the longest zip line in the world over the sea in Haiti.
Says Jojo excitedly, “Oh my God, do you remember those kids in Jamaica who posed like Usain Bolt when they saw us?” Michael nods with a smile before he continues, “We plan to get lost in more zip codes together; we’ve already covered New York, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Miami.” For now though, the couple agree that Africa looks like a good bet to mark one of the most special holidays they’ll take together as man and wife. Majestic vistas and exotic safaris await.
When Jojo slips away for a second to answer her cell phone, Michael quietly shares: “Jojo is fiercely protective about me, and when your partner tells you every single day that ‘you are amazing the way you are’, you start living with a love and a bond that is unspoken. When we are in tune and in sync with each other and not thinking about work or deadlines, it is the most beautiful thing in the world. I guess we’re kind of like a twin flame. The light gets brighter and you feel that nothing else matters; as I said before, you just know when you are connected.”
After Michael leaves and over a last cup of java, Jojo muses aloud how she knew Michael was really the one for her. “I think I fell in love with him, or at least really knew he was “the one”, one day in New York City. There was this old homeless woman and she’d dropped her things, and all around her the city bustled, too busy to care. And I understand that, you know, everyone has their own thing going on, their own problems. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Michael bend over to help her, even slip her some money because it looked like she hadn’t eaten in a while. He didn’t know I was watching, but I knew then that he was the man for me, and always would be.”
Jojo Struys and Michael Lim walk out of Tirtha Uluwatu Chapel in Bali, as man and wife
The couple share a kiss at sunset
From left: Jojo Struys and Michael Lim just before they released a pair of doves to symbolise their eternal love; Jojo walked down the aisle of the chapel by her father, Leslie Struys’s side; The couple’s first dance at the reception where Malaysian celebrity singers Ash Nair and Chelsia Ng sang love songs to commemorate the night. “When Ash started singing U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” I thought I’d cry all over again,” says Jojo.
Says Jojo, “There were no Bridezilla moments, thank God.”
The couple with Chelsia Ng (left) and Xandria Ooi (right)
LOVE AROUND THE WORLD
A love of travel binds them, and next year Jojo launches her travelogue Letting Go, co-produced by her husband, Michael.
Looking forward to a new beginning