EXCLUSIVE: Johannes Radebe’s memoir JoJo: Finally Home is being adapted as family movie, complete with musical numbers choreographed by the man himself. Radebe, who is South African, has achieved fame as a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing. His book, released last year, details his journey from poverty to the ballroom and TV studio. It fast became a bestseller.
Anthony Kimble’s Arrested Industries and Helena Spring Films have swooped on the rights and are working on a movie adaptation. Finally Home (working title) will not be a straight-up musical, but will be “packed with heart, great music, wonderful costumes and big dance numbers,” the producers said.
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Radebe will exec-produce the film. Raised in the South African township of Zamelda, he faced prejudice as a young boy who was captivated by dance – and Barbies… rather than football and rugby, as was the norm among his peers.
With the support of his mother, sister, and a dance coach who spotted his gift, he became a champion ballroom dancer and popular celebrity. Having been one of the professional dancers on the South African Strictly Come Dancing, he has appeared on the British version of the show since 2018.
“Growing up gay in the townships of South Africa was not an easy ride, but there were so many good things about my life there, and it has made me the person I am today,” Radebe said. “I never imagined my story would end up on the big screen, so I am greatly appreciative of this new opportunity and look forward to working closely with Helena and Anthony over the coming months.”
UK and LA-based Arrested Industries works across development, finance, and distribution. It will re-unite with frequent collaborator Helena Spring Films on Finally Home.
“At its core, Jojo’s story is a hugely heartwarming coming-of-age tale, but it also conveys so many interesting themes around identity, acceptance, community and, of course, family,” said Arrested Industries’ CEO Anthony Kimble. “Our ambition is to do the book – and Jojo – justice by producing a bold, colorful and thoroughly entertaining film that leaves audiences of all ages with big smiles on their faces.”
The film is expected to part shoot in South Africa, where Helena Spring is based. Her credits include the Oscar-nominated family drama Yesterday.
“South Africa is increasingly becoming a go-to location for international film and TV, with the world recognizing that we not only have a skilled talent base but also so many brilliant stories to tell,” Spring said. “Finally Home, while clearly an incredible personal story, will also provide insights into contemporary culture in South Africa and portray facets of community life in the townships that are rarely seen on screen.”
Radebe is represented by Antony Read at Olivia Bell Management. His memoir was published by Hodder & Stoughton.
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