HOME-GROWN WONDER WOMAN – KIA JOHNSON
KIA JOHNSON IS A WOMAN ON A MISSION. AS WELL AS BEING A WIFE AND MOTHER OF TWO, THIS AMBITIOUS AND VIVACIOUS WONDER WOMAN IS ALSO A RENOWNED RADIO AND TV PERSONALITY, AND IS USING HER INCREDIBLE SUCCESS IN THE MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEREVER SHE CAN.
Born and raised in Cape Town to liberal parents who inspired her love of music and performance, Johnson was bitten by the media bug early on.After graduating from the University of Western Cape with a BCom in Human Resources Management, she began her career in radio and broadcasting.
Spanning 15 years, her career continues to flourish and, as well as being the Western Cape’s traffic “eye-in-the-sky” and kickstarting the weekdays with her Radio 2000 morning show, Planet Haaibo”, Johnson is a familiar face to TV viewers. She’s produced and presented for the Expresso Morning Show on SABC 3, as well as her very ownTV show, Life with KJ.
Since her broadcasting debut, Kia has met and interviewed a range of local and international celebrities, including Chef Gordon Ramsay and English actor, John Cleese. She’s also been actively involved in a number of educational campaigns to raise awareness about pressing issues facing our country and the world at large.
We recently caught up with her to find about more about her “Wonder Woman” lifestyle.
InFlight (IF): In 2015, you launched your very own TV show, Life with K, that discusses hard-hitting current affairs, as well as aiming to uplift and empower communities who find themselves in harsh conditions. How has the journey been so far?
Kia Johnson (KJ): The show has been an eye-opener of note. I’ve always thought I knew my community because I grew up in it. I’ve experienced hardship, and have family and friends who have
experienced far worse, but when I embarked on this journey I found myself more humbled than ever.The idea behind the show was to highlight those local unsung heroes who, despite their own hardships, were trying to create a more positive life for others who are just as disadvantaged. Some days were harder than others, and I had to be prepared to go into areas deemed unsafe in order to showcase them. But in the end I had the opportunity to show the stories of these heroes, which I would like to highlight for years to come.
IF: You were also recently involved in the CNN and Global Sustainability Network’s HeardPSA initiative around human trafficking. Can you tell us a bit more about this? KJ: When I started working on Life with KJ I met with Barbara Ras, who does extensive work on human trafficking in the Atlantis [Western Cape] community. She has a safe house for women and children who have survived, and tries to rehabilitate them back into society by giving them a place to stay, and teaching them basic skills that they can use in order to be functional and working again. After meeting Barbara, I had so many discussions with so many people about the horrors of it all, including with international Muay Thai champion, Quentin Chong. So when he received a call requesting that he gather some filmmakers for the CNN HeardPSA initiative, he asked me to be a part of it. Selected filmmakers from each country had to produce this PSA [public service announcement] to highlight “My Freedom Day”, and also to compete against each other. We were judged by [musician] Quincy Jones, [actors] Olivier Martinez and Joseph Fiennes, and many other well-known international names. When the news came that we had come second in the world, I felt so blessed to have been chosen to be a par t of it. My wish moving forward is to continue creating education and awareness around this.
IF: How do you navigate the demanding media industry as a working wife and mother of two?
KJ: Balance, balance, balance and compromise. My husband [Cape Town DJ, Branny Draai] and I have been lucky because we both work in the media industry, and understand the demands
of our careers and also the erratic hours that come with it.With that in mind, we have made sure to have some good support systems in place and we are able to sacrifice time. Besides that, we try our best to always stick to a routine – which helps me a lot. If I have given too much time to my work, I always take a step back and find time to spend with my children – usually they give me small indications when they want a bit more attention than usual. It’s always important as a mom to listen and to go with your gut feeling.
IF: What do you like to do when you’re not behind the mic or on screen?
KJ: Living in this beautiful country has so many advantages when it comes to nature-seekers such as ourselves. For us, going away for a few days to a relaxed location is the ultimate treat, and preferably one that requires minimal effort, because the kids keep us on our toes. We also enjoy being able to do a variety of activities at one location and will find any excuse to hike or to train.
IF: What is the secret to maintaining your energetic personality as well as your beautiful looks? KJ: I’ve always believed your body is your temple and you have to nourish it every day.We’re not perfect – achieving this all the time is not possible. However, you have to maintain a strict schedule and be adamant with that. I’ve also been on the longest food journey trying to find out what works for me; it’s really as simple as finding a balance with your food, so not too much and not too little. I’ve also found eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of just the main ones has helped with not only my eating habits, but also my time constraints with work. I also exercise three to five times a week, dependent on how busy my schedule is. Regarding my personality, I’ve always believed in authenticity, being true to who you are, and being humble. I give my gratitude of thanks every day to the one above which I feel centres my head and heart space.
With a few new and exciting media projects currently in the works for later this year, Kia Johnson is a woman worth following. Keep up to date on her latest, exciting ventures by following her on social media, or visiting her website at www.kiajohnson.co.za. @KiaJohnsonSA