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Larger than life

She has done a little bit of crazy in her life, loads of serious too and is well on her way to a whole lot more success stories she can add to the already long list of achievements.

In the first moments we met up with Radio Jacaranda presenter Danny Painter, you could sense something that says ‘I love life, I know how to make a statement, I have a sense of humour, I am who I am and I am living life’.

And in a way so unique to her, she tells you that although she was born in Springs, all she can remember is her life in Brakpan where she grew up and where she still lives with her husband and six Border collies.

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‘This is my community, these are my people and I love them. This is still a community where you know your neighbours. My neighbours even know my dogs by name.’

Then it does not come as a surprise that you will often catch her chilling with friends at one of her favourite hangouts, Rose Tulee.

Colourful life

Going back to her childhood, she laughs and tells you about the ‘crazy and colourful life’ she has. She was born to a family of Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist and Pagan beliefs.

‘Can you get crazier than that? But this has set me up with a hunger to learn, the ability to accept and the knowledge to converse with anyone. It was chaotic and loud and sometimes even confusing, but it made me the tolerant, open-minded person I am today. I adore my family and never refer to anyone as step.’

When her birth parents separated, her mum married a Zulu man, DJ Chock, who is now Danny’s beloved (step) dad, and with that came the rainbow ‘ZuJew’ family they now are.

Her biological father married into the Muslim community, exposing her to the language and culture as well.

With the cultural and language differences, the family was approached to shoot a reality TV show.

And just so by the way, they are all in the entertainment industry, from hip-hop DJs, singers, dancers, DJs and one brother in the hospitality industry.

A lifelong career

One can confidently say the world has become Danny’s stage – whether it is on radio, on stage or in front of the camera.

At the age of six she was cast in her first theatre production. With backgrounds in dance, musical theatre, music and drama, her path was set.

After primary school, Danny attended the prestigious Pro Arte Alphen Park in Pretoria and studied drama. This brought many highlights to her life, like the opportunity to choreograph, direct and perform an award-winning mime piece at the State Theatre.

In 2003, her matric year, she was scouted and chosen as the youngest face of DStv Channel Go, where she spent two years becoming the voice of the channel as well as hosting two of her magazine-style youth shows in fashion and extreme sport.

After this, she took a break, travelled to Italy, where she learned the language and, of course, the culture. Upon her return, she joined the team at SABC2 live daily children’s show, World of Winners.

Added to her list is the voice character in the first SA animated series, Captain Zaka, as well as starring in an independent film Mombassa for the international market.

Highlights

‘There were many highlights but most notably are hosting the Kids Choice Awards, hosting DUB’s birthday on Camps Bay beach and meeting and holding my very first Academy Award with the cast of Tsotsi,’ she said almost as a matter of fact and humbly.

After television, the world of voice and radio became Danny’s life. She did voicing animation, adverts and eventually ending up at Rock 919, YFM, Ekhurhuleni FM and Chai FM before joining her Jacaranda family, as she calls them.

She hosts the 19:00 to 22:00 slot Monday to Thursday, Weekends with Danny Painter and Saturdays between 16:00 and 19:00 her popular podcast, The Danny Painter Show, on all podcasting platforms.

Let’s not forget voicing video games for XBox and campaigns locally and abroad.

She has been a songwriter for the last 10 years, collaborating with numerous artist, always writing a love song.

Did we forget to mention that she achieved all this at the age of 36?

Married life

With jam-packed days, she runs on about four hours’ sleep and has to juggle hours to spend time with hubby.

‘I think he gets the worst of me. But if something matters to you, you will find the time to make it work. Even if it is carving out half an hour or an hour for lunch or dinner. He leaves for work when I get up and I leave before he gets home. I have weeks where I feel I’ve not seen him at all.

‘Weekends are better because he can join me at events and although it is still work, we appreciate every moment we have together. I think after being in the industry for so long, it has become our normal.

‘We met when I was presenting children’s television, so he has never known another me. He has a whole lot of patience and understanding.

‘LOL, I broke the bro-code when I met him. He was my brother’s best friend and we eloped and got married and it has been 15 years now.

‘Planning is also key in keeping my days together. I plan everything to the minute, from make-up to travel time.’

This and that

Something few people know about Danny is that she lifts weights.

‘That is where I find my peace. I read all the time, I paint and I draw and would love to get back to playing the piano, but as they say, life happens.’

She collects rare and antique books, tattoos and art and turned her home into a gallery of sorts.

‘Oh, and don’t laugh, I am considering studying again. Law. Because my family always needs a good lawyer, LOL.

‘I don’t delegate easily and like things to go my way. I also like a good argument. One of my pet peeves is definitely people who listen with the intent to respond and not listen.’

Going over to her ultimate spoils and guilty pleasures, ‘a full spa day, or no, let’s make it a weekend and most definitely sharing a drink with my best friend over Zoom. It always ends very late’.

If there is one thing she could do before she dies, ‘How can you ask me about just one thing. I have a huge bucket list. If I have to choose it would be to see an opera in the amphitheatre in Italy.’

Truths and dares

As expected, she is always up for a good dare.

‘I’ll do just about anything except, of course, playing golf or bowls.’

When it comes to the truths in her life, she wants to tell the young ones that entertainment life is a tough road.

‘You get many no’s along the way and several doors will be closed in your face. It is not just about those two or three hours in the studio.

‘It is prepping, meetings, working long hours to be ready and fit everything in and especially working with people abroad you may have Zoom meetings between two and four in the mornings. It is not all glorious but, oh so worth it.’

She used lockdown to train her dogs, learn isiZulu and become the best version of herself.

‘I am ethically conscious, try my best to live green and believe that kindness will change the world while creating great projects that will spread the message of kindness and human connection, one of which is a spoken word EP alongside dad, DJ Choc.’

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