Well known South African television actress and Ballito mother of two Hanna Grobler is also a talented artist whose work has been exhibited around the country. Her biggest passion though, and the one she is most proud of, is her charity, Hanna Charity, which supports more than 11 communities and makes a difference in thousands of people’s lives.
She may be married to one of the most famous musicians in the country, but make no mistake, Hanna is a force to be reckoned with all on her own. She, her husband Bok van Blerk and their two small children moved to Ballito from Gauteng a few years ago and have fallen in love with coastal life.
Most people recognise Hanna from the numerous television roles she has had, including co-presenting the game show Doen met ‘n Miljoen with Casper de Vries and her parts in various Afrikaans soaps such as Sewende Laan, Villa Rosa, Binnelanders and Egoli (the movie). She also did five seasons of the hit TV drama series, Getroud met Rugby.
“I have had the privilege of working with some of the best actors and directors in our country. I learned so much and really enjoyed acting,” she says.
But acting wasn’t Hanna’s first love. Born and raised in Pretoria, she attended an arts school where she specialized in painting and sculpture. “Art was always my first love. While at art school I was exposed to performance art and live art exhibitions and it absolutely fascinated me. I had my own fine art style and didn’t want to further my fine art studies at university, so I decided to study drama at the University of Stellenbosch instead. After that I landed big acting roles and moved to Johannesburg to focus on my career. Fine arts played ‘second fiddle’ to my acting for a number of years.”
Hanna has since rekindled her love for painting, drawing and sculpture and some of her mixed medium ‘pop art’ pieces are currently on exhibition at the Gallery @ The Studios at Lifestyle Centre Ballito. “I work mostly in charcoal and oil paint – sometimes separately and sometimes combined. I almost always do portraits. I love people and capturing their specific emotions,” she says.
“From a very young age I focused on my three passions in life – fine art, charity and acting. I grew up in a traditional Afrikaans home with my older brother and sister. My mom (a qualified social worker) and my dad (a sculptor and minister in the NG Church) were very supportive of us following our dreams and taught us to have respect for people and be the change we want to see in the world.”
Being involved in charity, Hanna says, was never a conscious decision, but rather just always part of her life. “I started doing small acts of charity from when I was a little girl. In high school, I volunteered at children’s homes and geriatric institutions and when I studied acting I started working with street children in Stellenbosch. When I moved back to Gauteng I felt the need to do community development and raised funds by hosting concerts in my living room with actors and musicians!”
Hanna and her friends started up a soup kitchen in the small community of Elandspoort. They added a clothing bank and soon saw a need amongst small children – so they started an Early Childhood Development centre. “We also put in a library and, soon after that, put a skills development program into place. People from the community started working for their own people in the community and we saw big change!” That was when they started putting up the same type of stations and programs in other communities. In 2008 Hanna Charity and Empowerment Foundation was registered as non profit organization (NPO), Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) and a Non Government Organization (NGO) with an 18a certificate with the department of social services.
“I think charity is just in your genes. Form me, it was as if everything developed organically. It was never a decision, but rather just destiny. My mom helped me a lot with decision making and guided me, which I really appreciate.
Speaking about her relationship with Bok, Hanna says they met through the entertainment industry and started out as friends. “Him being a singer and me doing theatre productions, we always saw each other at festivals. I was in a long relationship but when I broke up with my boyfriend we started dating and fell in love. A few years later we got married on a family farm in Hoedspruit and straight after our honeymoon I went away for three months to do a theatre production. It was horrible – I missed him so much!”
The couple suffered a huge loss when their first son was stillborn a year later. It was something, Hanna says, that broke her heart and changed her life completely. She decided to take a break from acting for a while. Subsequently, the couple have had two more beautiful children, named Samuel and Yamila.
Asked what prompted them to move to the North Coast, Hanna says, “We moved here for a better quality of life for ourselves and our children. My parents live in Ramsgate, so it’s close for a quick visit, and we love being so close to the airport if we need to travel for work.”
Text: Leah Shone | Photograph: Chris Allan Photo | Hair: Carlton Hair Ballito | Makuep: KYLIE BLACK @MADEUP_ BYKYLIE