The Real Housewives of Johannesburg follows the lives of six glamorous ladies living their best lives in the City of Gold. Flashy cars, diamonds, designer shoes and bags, it’s all about being fabulous, and of course, the drama that ensues between them all.
I have long been a fan of the Real Housewives franchise. From the first episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County back in 2006, Atlanta, Potomac, Melbourne and every other spin-off in-between, I am a real fan.
So, when I saw the trailer for the first local version of the show, I knew I would be watching it from the first episode, and I did. One of these ladies is Christall Kay, a businesswoman who stays in a white mansion and loves shoes.
Tracking Kay down was a bit of a mission, but when she finally answered, she’s quick to remind me that we don’t share the same tax bracket. “I am so sorry, I stay in a beautiful mansion on a stunning estate here in Joburg, but we have the worst network connection, it’s terrible.”
She stays in a house estimated to be worth R18-million in Kyalami. It wasn’t always like this though. Born and raised in Durban, Kay grew up in a middle-class family and enjoyed simple days by the beach.
“I grew up on the Bluff in Durban. I loved it there because we stayed in the beachfront, and I always went snorkelling and swimming, it was great. I went to Grosvenor Girls High School in the area as well and really enjoyed my childhood,” she says.
She adds that being from the Bluff made her want to be ‘more glamorous’.
“The Bluff has a reputation for being rough and tough. If you say you are from there then, people expect you to behave a certain way. Like if you say you are from Benoni, and so because of that I always wanted to be against what people thought was the norm of us. I mean Charlize Theron comes from Benoni and lots of great people from the Bluff,” she says.
Although Kay always wanted to do something in the creative field, she studied law, and before she knew it, she was practising it in Johannesburg. “I moved to Joburg when I was 25 and started my career. I love speaking and loved debating, so from that aspect I wanted to get into law, to argue someone’s case. But, I did so thinking South African law was what we saw on American television shows, and that is not the case at all,” she says.
After practising law for most of her life, Kay took a decision seven years ago to quit and pursue other passions. “You can call me a serial entrepreneur because I have started a number of small enterprises, from the beauty industry with a spa to a locations company in which we scout locations for things like music videos, adverts and other television productions,” Kay adds.
So why invite strangers into your home? Kay is very frank with her response. “I think I attracted the show into my life,” she says, while excusing her son’s screams in the background.
“I wanted to be on a show like this five years ago actually, but the timing was not right, so when the opportunity presented itself again, I did not hesitate at all to say yes. I just believe that we must all do whatever makes us happy.”
Kay, who did not know any of her fellow housewives, says getting to know them was a challenge. “I am a very bubbly and friendly person. I love people, but it was difficult with this group of ladies. I stick out because I am the only blonde, and a lot of them don’t understand or want to understand my humour,” she says.
“You know, one day I didn’t want to drive. I wanted to take a jet, and for some reason, that did not make sense to them. I feel like I have really had to stand my own and fight. And I don’t like to fight. But when I do, I do it properly,” she adds.
In the first episode, Kay confessed to having over a thousand pairs of shoes, something she calls a passion. “I love shoes, Italian and Brazilian are preferred, but I just love shoes. From Prada to Valentino. I don’t spend large amounts of money on shoes, but once in Los Angeles I spent R40 000 on a pair of crystal-studded Jimmy Choo’s”.
Kay says viewers can expect a lot of sisterhood, laughs and tears, but just as much drama. “I took the spotlight very quickly, and I am very vocal. You are going to see authentic stories. Nothing is scripted. Every tear is real, every argument and fight is real,” says Kay.
Another housewife is model and former beauty queen Naledi Willers, known as the wife of a successful club and radio DJ, Quinton ‘Naked DJ’ Masina. Willers, who was raised in a village in Botswana, said she appreciates her strict upbringing.
“Growing up was always interesting being a mixed child. I have a white South African father and black Motswana mother, and my mother was strict, really strict. Backchat and you are in trouble, but I appreciate that she was like that because it really made me a disciplined person,” she says.
Willers, who has once crowned the second princess in Miss Botswana, said that although she was asked to be on reality TV before and declined, RHOJ producers convinced her otherwise this time around. “I am actually a very private person, so I never considered doing something like this at all. I needed a little convincing, but with the support of my family, I said yes,” she said.
Willers is currently a law student and although the RHOJ cameras did not document her every move, getting used to them being around was a challenge. “It’s funny because I could be having a conversation with one other person, but I am really not because there are cameramen around, sound guys and even lighting guys. So that took some getting used to,” says Willers.
Willers echoed Kay’s sentiments saying that the show is organic. “Our schedules are plotted so that there is order but nothing is scripted and we are not told what to say or how to act. As far as I know, I have no problems with the other ladies, but we could discover new things as we watch the rest of the season,” she says.
Other housewives include Evodia Mogase and her daughter Mercy, beauty entrepreneur Brinnette Seopela, and Busisiwe Ter Mors, who was born in South Africa but grew up in the United Kingdom.