One of Strictly Come Dancing’s biggest stars has revealed his life story is being adapted into a film.
Johannes Radebe, who joined the BBC show in 2018, penned a memoir titled JoJo: Finally Home last year, and the novel will act as a basis for the movie.
The film, which is being produced Arrested Industries and Helena Spring Films, will feature musical numbers choreographed by Johannes himself, but will not be an outright musical.
According to Deadline, the film will be ‘packed with heart, great music, wonderful costumes and big dance numbers.’
Johannes, who will act as executive producer, candidly detailed his struggles going up in poverty in South Africa, and the prejudice he faced for pursuing his passion for dance in his memoir.
Strictly Come Dancing star Johannes Radebe has revealed his memoir is set to be adapted into a family film
With the support of his family, Johannes became a champion ballroom dancer, and he went onto join Strictly’s professional lineup, and reached the final in 2021 with The Great British Bake Off star John Whaite.
Speaking about the film he said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Arrested Industries’ CEO Anthony Kimble said: ‘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.
‘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 be partially filmed in South Africa, where Helena Spring is based, with her previous work including the Oscar-nominated family drama Yesterday.
‘South Africa is increasingly becoming a go-to location for international film and TV, with the world recognising 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.’
The dancer candidly detailed his struggles going up in poverty in South Africa, and the prejudice he faced for pursuing his passion for dance in his memoir
Johannes previously broke down in tears as he delved into the backstory of his autobiography which covers the experiences and challenges he faced as he grew up in Zamdela, South Africa with a passion for dance.
Reflecting on his childhood, the Latin champion told the Loose Women panel: ‘It’s so far from the life that I am living now, I can look after my family, my mother is comfortable.
‘I was bullied for being a bit happy and flamboyant. Dance was my refuge. I hated school but I am so grateful for my teacher for calling people out.’
Of his sexuality, he said: ‘It was frowned upon, even by some of my family members, but now I am in a fortunate position where it is accepted.
‘As I was writing the book I sat down and she had been interviewed and I asked her questions like, “Why did you make that decision? Why did you stay that long in a marriage that didn’t serve you?”
Johannes choked up as he said: ‘It’s only recently where I have made peace with what has happened with the past.
‘Because I had an opportunity to hear my mum’s side of the story.’
Panellist Katie Piper asked: ‘Was it hard to talk to your mum about it, about that?’
Getting emotional Johannes replied: ‘It was. It was. And I dedicated the book to my mother because I want to applaud her love.
‘Great things have happened in my life but my family is never there to enjoy it with me, my mother is alone and that is the reality, but I am so happy and I am proud of her.’
Johannes previously spoke about his ‘horrid’ time at school in South Africa where he endured homophobic physical and verbal abuse
He joined the Strictly professiona lineup in 2018, and last year was paired with Annbel Croft reaching the semi-finals
Johannes spoke about his ‘horrid’ time at school in South Africa where he endured homophobic physical and verbal abuse.
The dancer has been open about his sexuality during his time on the hit BBC competition and was chosen for Strictly’s first male same-sex couple alongside baker John Whaite in 2021.
But growing up in the township of Zamdela, near Johannesburg, Johannes said he had to ‘duck and dive’ from the bullies who would call him a ‘sissy boy’ and ‘punch’ him ‘many times’.
Speaking to The Guardian about his latest solo venture, a tour called Freedom Unleashed, Johannes explained that despite the bad times he was still ‘covered with love’ from his mother.
He said: ‘I had to duck and dive. School was horrid. They [the bullies] used to say to me, “Oh, sissy boy!”‘
The dancer added that if he got far away enough, he would hit them back with a sassy reply: ‘But if I was close by I would have been punched, which I was many times.’
Johannes also added that he still has friends living in his native South Africa who still endure homophobic abuse and that he is happy to be living in the UK.
‘You guys have a long way to go still, but people make space for one another to coexist,’ he added.