The DIY queen Julia Anastasopoulos
“Suzelle has given me the opportunity to spread joy via crazy, SAflavoured comedy.”
As an actress, I was always interested in creating some kind of comedy that celebrated the quirkiness of SA characters,” says Julia Anastasopoulos, 33, the talent behind the media sensation Suzelle DIY.
“I didn’t know what exactly to do with my idea, but my fiancé Ari, who is a director, motivated me to film an experimental pilot. We knew the pink wall in my Cape Town flat would be a perfect backdrop,” Julia explains.
The name Suzelle was inspired by her character’s bold personality, and the DIY theme came about because DIY was trending at the time, Julia has a knack for it and, as she says, “DIY is just like acting in that both involve creating something from nothing.”
The immediacy of online media appealed to Julia and Ari, and on 7 May 2014 they posted How to drill a hole without making a mess to Facebook.
“Our family and friends loved it, so we posted videos on Instagram. When the 15-second limit proved to be too short, we created a Youtube channel.”
The introduction of Suzelle’s sidekick Marianne, played by Julia’s BFF Gina Collins, on 12 August 2014, struck comedy gold, with 10 000 views on the first episode in which she featured. Since then, there have been 56 episodes, and a new character, ‘Ryno in the Bush’, and guests have included chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen and Professor Tim Noakes.
“I had no expectations of Suzelle in the beginning. She was just a fun experiment,” says Julia. “But she’s changed my life and has given me the opportunity to spread joy via crazy, Sa-flavoured comedy.”
Now, with over 18 million Youtube views and 100 000 subscribers, a Comedy Central TV show, a book out, Suzellediy: The Book (Human & Rousseau; R280), a movie in the works and a production company, Sketchbook Studios, it’s hard to imagine that Julia spent 10 years balancing acting, illustration and design work in demanding creative industries.
Then again, as she notes, Suzelle’s life philosophy is, “Do it yourself because anybody can.” Julia explains, “That’s become our life philosophy, too. We made a success out of an idea by doing it ourselves with what we had.”