We had the good fortune of connecting with Jo Galloway and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jo, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am originally from Cape Town, South Africa and come from a family of crazy creatives. Both my parents were musical theatre performers in the West End before moving to SA after touring with the musical West Side Story. Our family now runs The Waterfront Theatre School in Cape Town, which has become the biggest international performing arts college in the country. We focus on all aspects of the performing arts under our banner “Perform. Teach. Create.” The goal is to create self sufficient performers who can not only perform as triple threats, but also create and develop their own work.
As I grew up with both parents on stage and in front of the camera, I suppose it was inevitable that I too would get “bitten by the bug!”
After a successful career in SA, I moved to LA to continue performing. After the standard “baptism of fire,” I found my feet and started working with my Agent and Manager. However, my entrepreneurial side needed an outlet. I love the business side of the industry as much a the performing side. After watching my parents create my whole life, it was the next logical step for me to start my own production company here in LA. I actually think I’m a better writer and director than I am an actress! Seeing something you have developed from your imagination take shape is the most rewarding experience.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Lordy! How much time do we have!
I think the biggest thing that people don’t realize is that when you come from another country you have to first figure out “life” before you can get onto an even playing field with American performers. How to get a bank account? What does CVS mean? The 3000 versions of milk and washing detergent. How do you drive a car – on the other side of the road, in the other side of the car! The rear view mirror is not the only thing that changes your perspective.
Pumping GAS (petrol) while looking for a SWEATER (jersey) with a FLASHLIGHT (torch) in your TRUNK (boot) before someone HONKS (hoots) at you from their TRUCK (bakkie.)
There were many times where I cursed the Gods about my brilliant decision to uproot my whole life. The day before my very first Thanksgiving in 2012 my apartment was broken into and they took everything. I’d been here just about 5 weeks.
I had no ID, no access to money, no phone, no computer, no work visa, nada. I just sat on the floor and cried.
Then I got up.
I had more rejection than I thought I could handle but then I also had some glorious wins. Since I released the pressure cooker of “expectation” I have achieved some of my best work.
I worked on some great shows, made movies I loved, started a company, written material for young actors, directed, produced for my own company and others, created a performance space for artists of all kinds, taught and learnt, met the most interesting people, worked with some brilliant creatives at the top of their game, did work I was proud of and continue to do so.
Before I write you my unsolicited autobiography, let’s just say it has been a whirlwind and I wouldn’t have changed a damn thing.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
For a tourist visiting LA for the first time, you obviously have to do the staples. The Hollywood Sign, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. Catch a comedy set on Sunset Blvd, meander down the PCH, go wine tasting in Malibu, a late lunch at Geoffreys, dinner at the Chateau Marmont, stargaze on The Hollywood Walk of Fame and grab an ice cream on Santa Monica Pier.
I would highly suggest taking one of LA’s glorious hikes like Runyon Canyon or Tuna Canyon Park in Topanga. Or perhaps up to Griffith Observatory or the Wisdom Tree. Taking a bike ride through the Venice Canals, exploring Abbot Kinney or a visit to The Last Bookstore downtown is always a fun day out.
My absolute favorite place in LA is Petit Ermitage Hotel in West Hollywood. The beautiful rooftop pool and eclectic artistic suites make for a magical staycation. Cielo Farms is one of my favorite for wine tasting in Malibu, but if you travel a little further into Ojai, Majestic Oak Vineyard and Old Creek Ranch wineries are fantastic too.
Watching a movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is always a “must-do,” followed by another personal favorite of mine, a night of karaoke at The Gaslight and a late night street Taco truck stop!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to say I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of a fantastic AD and darling friend, Tia Ardran. She helped me get onto my very first set, and eventually join SAG. Having the opportunity to work behind the scenes on various shows was the springboard that initially developed ShoWorks Entertainment. Working with Directors and DP’s such as Rich Correll, Sean Lambert, Pat Malhoney & Sam Orender became one of the highlights of my journey. Their belief in me and my work helped me grow immensely.
Although we no longer work together, I have to give massive credit to my ex business partner, Darren Portilla. He is one of the most innovative, creative and detail orientated people I have ever met. We did some of our craziest, best and bold work together.
The support of my fellow actors such as Gretchen Goode, Chris Worley, & Arturo Duran to name a few, was a great source of courage for me. They trusted me completely whenever I was hatching a new mad production idea, directing them to jump off a box dressed as crow, work in rhyming couplets in different accents or dance with one broken toe (the show must go on people!) They always did such beautiful work that we could all be proud of.
The staff at The Complex Theater, The BroadWater and Three Clubs in Hollywood were definitely a large part of my journey in LA.
One of the biggest sources of encouragement and guidance has always come from my Managment team at Bohemia Group. Alison Buck is a bloody force to be reckoned with. I remember her saying many years ago that whatever you do career wise, you have to be happy in the in-between times.
But most of all, I have to say I literally wouldn’t be ALIVE if it wasn’t for the support of my friends and family back home. No matter how hard things got, or what insane new idea I had, they always encouraged me to keep on keeping on. With a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and FaceTime!
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.”