We’ve had the greatest pleasure meeting the beautiful Chantal Rutter Dros – an award winning investigative journalist and presenter, an accomplished entrepreneur, and one happy momma.
Q: Okay, let’s start at the beginning: what made you want to become a journalist and has this journey been what you had expected?
I have always had a natural curiosity and a deep desire to understand what makes the human mind tick. When I realized academically I wasn’t going to get into veterinary school (which would have been my first choice), broadcast news journalism came in a close second. The journey has at times been grueling and demanding but simultaneously inspiring. I truly consider myself to haven been in an incredibly privileged position to witness events as they unfolded at some of the most critical times in our country’s history, and to have had some unique experiences.
Q: Knowing the “highs” and the “lows” of your career, what advice would you give your younger self and anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I would advise myself to ‘chill out’ a bit. I am a very driven, ambitious and single-minded individual. I think taking some time out would have given me a better perspective. Life also passes by very quickly, so take time to consciously be in the moment. To anyone following in my footsteps, I would say, be persistent and don’t let anyone talk you out of where you feel your life-path should take you. Do not compare yourself with others because we are all on this planet to live out a different destiny and to bring our different talents to the fore for the greater good. Above all, I would advise that first do no harm. Treat everyone, from all walks of life, with respect and dignity .
Q: Looking back at your career to date, which assignments did you find most rewarding?
The hardest stories for me to cover are those about child abuse. I will never get used to them or become desensitized to the trauma around them, however, as a journalist it does place you in a position to bring about change and to track down the perpetrators. As with the recent case of model boss Dawie de Villiers accused of dozens of counts on indecent assault and rape, I feel satisfied that we were able to bring that case to court and have him charged. It takes enormous courage for a survivor to come forward, so I am indebted to all the young women who were brave enough to testify against him.
Q: In your line of work you had the privilege of meeting so many remarkable people! Who did you find particularly inspiring?
My husband of course! He is the kindest and most gentle person I know. But on the work front, it is ironically the people who are not regularly in the public eye who are the most inspiring. Those who have experienced enormous trauma, but who still have an indomitable human spirit. I have immeasurable respect for these people. They do not have power or money or even a fair system on their side, yet somehow they manage to pull through on sheer faith. It goes without saying that Nelson Mandela was one of the most inspirational public figures to meet. His motivation was truly a calling bigger and beyond himself and there were few left untouched my the magnitude of his spirit and his ideals.
Q: And now the fun question: if you could invite anyone to dinner – dead or alive – who would it be and what would you love to ask them?
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middelton; Queen Rania of Jordan; Queen Letitizia of Spain; Queen Marie Chantal of Greece; Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and Michelle Obama around a table – they are all enormously accomplished and intelligent women and I would like see how we as women could unite different parts of the world, politically and socially, in spite of religion, culture or creed.
Q: You have accomplished so much in your (still young) life and now you’re also a mum to a beautiful little boy. How does motherhood compare to all your other achievements in life?
It is the single most wondrous thing that has every happened to me. Not a day goes by when I don’t wonder at the marvel of this little life. It far outweighs any other experience (having said that, I am glad that I got to experience so much before having a child – I think it provides a much needed perspective). It is also the hardest job I have ever had. Running a news room is not half as tough as running after a toddler the whole day! But the rewards are far, far greater.
Q: A lot of women nowadays strive to become something of a “superwoman” – we want to conquer it all: at home, at work and have it together everywhere in between! What is your stance on this? Do you also feel the pressure?
I do not subscribe at all to the ‘superwoman’ myth. Women are killing themselves trying to do it all – high–flying career, good wife, excellent mother, sports fanatic etc. etc. I personally believe that your presence is the greatest gift you can bring to any situation and when you have a million things on the go at the same time, that impacts on all your decisions and interactions. I believe in doing one thing and doing it well with consciousness, awareness and time. There is definitely pressure, but it is up to us as women to speak out and to take care of each other.
Q: It seems that media like to promote very particular ideals of beauty. What does “beautiful” mean to you personally and have you ever been surprised to find it in any unlikely contexts?
Beauty is for me in the essence of something, not on the surface. It is the aura left behind when the superficial has moved on. Beauty lies in compassion, empathy and spirit – virtues that way outlive a beautiful outfit or a gorgeous face. True beauty is substance, it is not, for me, fleeting.
Q: We cannot let you go without asking you to spill some of your beauty secrets! What do you do to look this gorgeous and look after yourself whilst juggling so many proverbial balls in the air?
As with my current philosophy in life, I try and keep everything very simple. I love cooking and believe in the value of organic, grass fed and free range produce. I believe strongly that what you put into your body is reflected in your skin, hair and nails and general wellbeing. I believe in the value of an OMEGA supplement and my skin care routine is inexpensive. I always take make-up off at night and wear a sunscreen during the day. Having been on TV most of my life, I feel under-dressed going out without make-up on, so I use foundation, lipstick and mascara, daily.
Q: What’s next for the unstoppable Chantal Rutter Dros?
Firstly, it’s raising a well-adapted, empathetic little human being. On the personal front I would love to venture into the world of cooking and showcase what the Garden Route has to offer. We have started a production company here called Simple Media, which will have a Garden Route portal. Let’s wait and see how it all pans out, but I have high hopes … which will have a Garden Route portal.
*For more information, visit www.chantalrutter.com
Oh that’s a good one… Don’t cleanse with soap, stop eating all the sugar, stay our of the sun and do more yoga!