Leatitia Solomons with a cap

VIA’s latest TV programme, Leatitia se Taxi, explores the taxi-industry in Stellenbosch.

This actress does not only put up a compelling performance on stage but also conquers on the highway. VIA’s latest TV programme, Leatitia se Taxi, explores the taxi-industry in Stellenbosch. Watch on VIA (Dstv channel 147) and streaming live on DStv Now starting Thursday 21 June at 21:00.

We took some time to chat to Leatitia Solomons, co-owner of Uncle Solly’s, about her adventure as the presenter of her own television show!

How did your grandfather’s taxi business start? 

My grandfather started transporting people on his very own donkey cart, transporting the farming community to the local shops and back. He realized that he needed to upgrade his mode of transport seeing that the farms were widely spread. He got a permit to use his own vehicles and many of these cars could only transport four individuals at a time.  Transportation was in high demand seeing as not many individuals had the privilege of owning their own motorcars. My grandfather went on to purchase his very first 15-seater taxi.

You are an actress. From where does this passion sprout?

I always loved being a dramatic narrator. I enjoyed telling and reading stories to my family members. My whole family consists of many talented individuals. I was raised listening to my grandfather’s band, Young Morning Stars. They performed at Vlottenburg when I was a youth. My father sings and performs at church functions. I wanted to study drama at City Varsity but my family was very concerned about the commute between Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Because of the distance issue, I decided to study secretarial studies at Boland College. After my grandmother’s passing, I realized that I only had one life and that I needed to do what makes me happy. On 1 February 2010, I decided to further my career as an actress. My family and my husband supported me and were pleased to hear that I was joining the Breughel Theatre. I was one of Dr Ben De Heack’s last students.

How old were you when you started working as a taxi driver?

I was born into the business. I was only able to play a vital role after I finished school. I was 21 years of age when I was allowed to complete my very first route. I have been actively involved in the industry ever since. My dad, Japie Solomons, and I are still actively involved in our business.

How did the reality TV programme start? What was the inspiration behind its concept?

I have always shared my passion for writing and performing with my family, friends and audiences. Many of my stories are quite gripping. I thought it best to share my stories with the whole of South Africa. People only ever badmouth the taxi industry. There is, however, a beautiful culture to the industry that remains undiscovered. The communities that we serve are multifaceted. I want to portray these beautiful aspects to people who might have a misconceived idea of the taxi industry and its culture. I pitched this concept to VIA and this is essentially where the project was set in motion.

Which aspects of the taxi industry are people often unaware of?

People need to understand that this industry puts food on the tables in so many local households. It also comes with immense responsibility. I am responsible for 15 additional lives beside my own every time I get behind my taxi’s steering wheel. There are so many diligent taxi drivers that do adhere to traffic laws.

Are there many women that are full-time taxi drivers?

There are many women that own taxis but not many do the actual driving. I am one of the only female drivers in Stellenbosch.

In your own words, how would you describe the programme, Leatitia se Taxi?

The program is about my very own reality. It includes snippets of my family members, what we do as a family, how I go about running my errands and completing my routes. It also introduces a softer, family-like side of the taxi industry to viewers.

Did you enjoy the production process? Which moments did you enjoy the most?

Yes! I loved the process. The experience was unique because I got to introduce my personal intrigue to a broader South African audience. It is a beautiful process, being able to share what you hold dearest to the people around you.

What are the things that viewers should take away from this programme?

The taxi industry is not as terrible as most South Africans make it out to be. There are beautifully unique elements that one can only know once you become part of the community. My life contains beautiful people and I would love to share them and their stories with South Africa.

What are you currently working on as an actress?

I am currently working on a one-woman show soon to be launched at Spier wine farm. I am also working on a celebratory Christmas showcase. My thoughts are constantly on the move and I am working on ideas for theatre pieces to come in the near future.

What are some of your career highlights?

Leatitia se taxi becoming a reality is definitely one of my personal highlights.

What is next for Leatitia Solomons?

I would love to become involved with the youngsters in my community. Children need to be exposed to opportunities that could influence and improve their futures. Children need to be motivated to pursue their dreams and turn them into realities.

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