It has been a few years since we have seen Gerry Rantseli Elsdon on our TV screens. This national TB Ambassador made a strong impression as the co-host of South Africa’s first Big Brother reality series and as a continuity presenter for M-Net. Gerry has been back in recent years as a host and executive producer with South Africa’s satellite news network, ANN7, and is now setting a new career course.
Going back in time to say Gerry Elsdon has a colourful background is a huge understatement! Having been born in District 6, living through the forced removals and Group Areas Act in the Cape in the 80s, to getting off a Greyhound bus from Cape Town, and meeting Nelson Mandela in an elevator in her first hour in Johannesburg.
Gerry is determined to inspire an interest in the arts amongst young people and to encourage creativity as a means of expressions, while also instilling a culture of learning, and teaching business skills to equip young performers and artists for the future.
Gerry Elsdon started her working career within the liberation struggle as a teenager on the Cape Flats. She later followed the move of one of her mentors, Cheryl Carolus, to Johannesburg to work for the African National Congress at national level.
She first worked in the Department of International Affairs as a secretary in the office of Thabo Mbeki, who was then the Head of International Affairs and is our second democratically elected president, and finally the Department of Local Government and Housing, learning from men such as Thozamile Botha and Slovo.
She also uses her public profile as a celebrity to get involved in as many social projects as possible. She has assisted as an Aids Ambassador for the President’s Office and frequently helps organisations like CHOC and the Othandweni Children’s Home. In 2008, she became the spokesperson for the World Health Organisation’s South African STOP TB Campaign.
Recently, on the invitation of the Minister of Health, Dr Manto Tshabalala Msimang, Gerry assisted in highlighting the plight of those struggling with TB, HIV and Aids, and is set to do more publicity work for the health ministry.
In 2001, she was appointed Head of Television and Broadcasting for Allenby Campus, a niche college with campuses country-wide. The television, radio and drama course included music, movement/dance, the basics of entertainment law, agency management, and film analysis, and attracts student who are interested in working in television and theatre. Gerry teaches the television component of the course at five campuses across the country.
In April 2002, she was master of ceremonies at the International Vaccination Conference held in Cape Town, endorsed and attended by Former SA president Nelson Mandela and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town Mrs. Graca Machel Mandela.
In 2002, Soulmate Productions and publishing house Carpe Diem Media created an inspirational publication called Soul Magazine, of which Gerry was an editor. Soul Magazine aims to begin a journey towards inner freedom, intellectual and emotional stimulation, and self-love amongst women by nurturing and healing both the physical body and the spirit.
In 2004, Soulmate Productions launched its personal development division aimed at creating a networking and training environment in which women can grow and develop their skills, but also to develop the leaders of tomorrow.
Gerry currently holds active directorships in Hlobisile Transport Management, a young trucking company carving a niche for itself and is Director: Marketing for Centurion Academie, a Pretoria-based Tertiary Institution, while also upholding her public image as the face of LUX in southern Africa.
In August 2005, she was appointed the Patron of Othandweni Children’s Home.
2006 saw Gerry Elsdon launching Cinnamon Communications (Learn, Grow and Experience the Essence of Life). A company which she heads by herself, focusing on Motivational Workshops; Grooming and Image Workshops; Networking Breakfasts; Skills Development and Training Courses; Corporate Solutions Programmes; Corporate Wellness Programmes, and Celebrity Friends Workshop Series.
She is still one of South Africa’s prominent Hosts/MCs, which is one of her best roles, and she handles the job with integrity and utmost professionalism, which sees most of our clients coming back to securing her services.
As a motivational speaker and a public figure, Gerry sees herself also expanding her role in becoming involved in other topics such as:
- Flying without Wings
- The Goddess within Discover your True Purpose
In 2007, Gerry launched Gerri E signature Collection. This is a jewellery range comprising Swarovski crystals and fine metals.
Many celebrities are admired for their talents, a few more for their looks and wealth.
However, it takes a special kind of celebrity to gain the kind of love and affection from the South African public that Gerry has. Much has been written about her warmth and bubbly personality and her unstoppable drive to do good.Gerry is part of a rare breed of women who can and do, do it all; she is an accomplished MC, a presenter, and businesswoman (she is CEO of Cinnamon Communications and founder of accessories company, Gerri E Signature Collection). But what she is most respected for is her work as a humanitarian and activist. She has and continues to fight to change the plight of disadvantaged children, and champions various critical health and wellness issues including tuberculosis.
Nubian Bride was fortunate to bear witness to this warmth as we were welcomed into her home, which she shares with her husband of five years, Kerry Elsdon, and their foster children. The couple married in 2007. Canadian-born Kerry is chief executive of Daimler Chrysler Financial Services in South Africa with grown children from a previous marriage.
Their home, set in one of Johannesburg’s most scenic suburbs, is striking but welcoming, comfortable and buzzing with life, not unlike the couple.
The couple just celebrated their five-year anniversary and although they are normally not fans of Valentine’s Day or other over-the-top romantic gestures, they are big on celebrating their anniversary. “We try to do an away trip, just the two of us,” says Gerry. And in their case, an away trip means visiting some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. “We were in Geneva in Switzerland one year, and one year we did Prague, and we went to the Seychelles another year,” says Kerry, recalling their travels.
The couple had an intimate and casual wedding in Franschhoek in the Cape with 80 guests. Wedding pictures by SephenC Photography Despite all the travelling they do, the couple say they are very much home bodies. People are often surprised to learn that that they are parents to foster children and that their home is open to all kids. “We spend a lot of time together at home with the kids,” says Kerry. “On weekends, Kerry plays tennis with the older boys and on some mornings they all climb in bed with us.”
To maximise quality time and minimise distractions, the couple made the decision to go without a television. Instead Kerry prefers spending time in the kitchen with a glass of wine watching his wife cook. “He is also a big fan of the Jo’burg sunset,” says Gerry with a laugh.
Home and family has always been important to the couple, even before they were married. Their 2007 wedding was held in Franschhoek in the Western Cape so they could be closer to Gerry’s family, who are based in Cape Town. The wedding, they say, was intimate and casual. “There were only 80 guests at the wedding, including family and close friends who have always been there for us,” says Gerry. Kerry’s family flew in from Canada to celebrate with them and mixed in a little of their own traditions, like the rehearsal dinner, which was the first time that both families got to spend time together. “We asked the chef who was catering the wedding to make a big pot of curry with rice and we had a real family-style meal,” Gerry says. Since then, things have only gotten better. The couple, both of whom have been married before, are enjoying married life. “I enjoy being taken care of,” explains Kerry. “The general idea is that the man takes care of the family financially and so on, but it is really nice having someone there for you,” he says. Gerry enjoys the intimacy and companionship. “I’ve always said that I was meant to be married,” she says. “There are some women who think that you want to get married because you don’t want to be single, but you can still be independent within a marriage.” It’s no surprise to learn that Gerry is the one who proposed to Kerry. “I beat him to the punch,” she says.
Aside from their shared sense of humour and ambition, what strikes you about the couple is the easy friendship between the two of them. Like all great relationships, theirs started out as a friendship, specifically a business friendship.
“We actually met within three months of me arriving in the country,” says Kerry. The two of them kept running into each other at various professional engagements.
According to Gerry, a business friendship soon blossomed into a personal one. “I went through a difficult time at one point and, being a celebrity, there aren’t a lot of people that you can talk to about certain things; you just don’t know what’s going to get into the media and what isn’t,” she reveals.
It was after a professional encounter that their friendship deepened. “We had a meeting scheduled and when I arrived I wasn’t in a good place. He stopped the meeting and asked what was going on. I suddenly realised that this was a person who I could talk to.”
They have not stopped talking since. They both credit honesty and communicating for helping to keep their marriage strong. Gerry admits to being emotionally closed after her previous marriage but says she learnt to open up with Kerry’s help. “In the beginning he would ask me questions and I wouldn’t be able to tell him what I wanted. I’ve learnt to open up and to be unafraid to speak my mind.” The couple says they speak to each other throughout the day via email or phone. “With our schedules, there are days when we are both busy, but we make time to get together,” explains Kerry.
They both have advice for couples before they take the plunge. “The real work starts after the wedding,” says Gerry. She is also an ardent believer in couples spending quality time together before having kids. “Have fun, travel and date each other a lot. Don’t rush into becoming a mommy, enjoy the years you have with your husband. Your husband also needs your time,” says Gerry. And Kerry’s advice? “I would say not to expect everything to stay the same,” says Kerry. “You will grow and change and it’s important that you grow together, not apart.”
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