Chasing dreams

Chasing dreams

She’s a qualified chef, successful restauranteur, SA national ballroom dancer, wife and mother. Umhlanga Mrs South Africa finalist. Jo-Ann Barnwell juggles life in the spotlight and a beautifully blended family, while pursuing her dreams.

Jo-Ann was born to be on the stage. The earliest evidence of her being ‘in the spotlight’ is a newspaper clipping her mother kept from 1982 – a black and white photograph of her winning a baby competition.

“I remember being on stage at five-years-old. I loved the stage, the lights and the camera,” says the 36-year-old former SA ballroom dancer. Jo-Ann travelled overseas to compete in ballroom dancing competitions internationally when she was 17-years-old.

“It was truly an amazing journey, but it had to come to an end. And, even though I would still love to put on those heels and tango, I had to set my mind on a career that would pay the bills. Juggling work and dancing was challenging and exhausting.”

So, following her deep passion for food, Jo-Ann went to study at a chef school in Cape Town. 

“The truth is, we all love food and I knew I could turn my love for food into a career. With absolutely no idea about running a restaurant, I bought the 250-seater Five Flies Restaurant and Bar in Cape Town.”

When she fell pregnant with her son three years ago, Jo-Ann and her husband, Steven, decided it was time for a life change. Steven was offered a job as managing executive of Vodacom KZN and the couple closed shop and moved to Durban.

Juggling her role as mom to her very busy two-year-old, Jordan, and step mother to two teenagers Jodi (14) and Jarrod (19), as well as wife to a man she says makes it all worth it, Jo-Ann changed careers and followed the spotlight once again, becoming a model for clothing adverts on television and in newspapers. But now Jo-Ann is looking for something more.

Jo-Ann made the decision to enter the Tammy Taylor Mrs South Africa pageant this year for which she (at the time of print) successfully made the top 100 and is honoured to count herself amongst a sisterhood of powerful strong women.

“I wanted to enter so that I know that I have proven to myself that the burning sensation of walking on this path to become the Tammy Taylor Mrs South Africa is what I was really meant for. I want to soak up the moments and take all I learn during the pageant and use it to uplift others.”

As the cover girl of our special Get It Kids feature edition, we asked Jo-Ann to share her thoughts on motherhood…

What are the best and the hardest things about motherhood? There are so many ‘bests’. I must say the one thing that always makes me smile and choke though is when my little one puts together full sentences with words I wonder where he ever learned. The hardest part is the constant worry whether I’m doing it right!

What three words best describe you as mother? Fun loving, enthusiastic and dedicated. 

What parenting rule do you never break? I’ll never stop telling him, “you can do anything my boy, nothing is impossible”

What rule do you break? We all have this idea of raising the ‘perfect child’. To be honest, I just wing it every day. With so many ‘dos and don’ts’ the need to adjust to every situation is what keeps things moving forward.

How do you unwind? Unwind? Hmm…that’s tricky. I love the rush of my busy life and I guess that is why Jordan never stops! But, if I must, I will watch a series, spend time with girlfriends or go see a movie with my hubby.

What five things are always in your fridge? Garlic, onions, butter, cream cheese and carrots.

Any fun quirky traditions unique to your family? We make our own family dances using popular song and write our own Afrikaans rap songs at family gatherings!

What do you hope your child remembers from his childhood? That he had an adventurous life!

What motto do you live by? To always be the best version of me. To be sincere, true and real. To live life to its absolute fullest and appreciate each moment shared with loved ones.

Get in touch:

@mrsjoannbarnwell |

Text: Monique De Villiers-Delport | Cover photograph: Lee Folkard Photography |


Get It Magazine Ballito/Umhlanga – October 2018

View magazine

October spoil

Welcome summer with an extraordinary rosé


WIN a set of lamps for you and your bestie

In celebration of the Weylandts Home Store opening at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre we have two sets of lamps valued at R1 495 per lamp to giveaway to a reader and his or her bestie…


Spring spoil

We’re celebrating the arrival of spring with a sundowner picnic…

is a national brand of premium free magazines available in centres across the country.

Click here

to see other Get It magazines in the network.