He may be known to many people as the latest talented addition to the Top Billing team, but Jonathan Boynton-Lee is much more than meets the eye.
Before gracing our small screen as the winner of the My Top Billing dream reality show, Jonathan was carving his name into the local art and entertainment scene as an award-winning and multi-talented filmmaker.
His influence was so profound that he was recently named as one of the Mail and Guardian’s 30 most influential young South Africans in the art and culture fields.
While his career may have started by acting, writing and directing for theatre with local stars Andrew Buckland and Reza de Wet, Jonathan quickly set himself apart with a script he wrote for the Quickies film festival, which was selected from over 5000 entries to be produced and screened on art cinemas across the country, and was voted as one of SA’s top 12 directors.
Following this up with a spot in a popular reality filmmaking show on SABC, where Jonathan’s two short films competed against other filmmakers, winning best editing and cinematography, he quickly became known as a trendsetter in the film business.
It isn’t something that is surprising, especially as Jonathan has been driven to succeed since he set out on his career. He describes his motivation as a simple one.
“Being true to me, never changing for anyone- “Know thyself, be thyself, so the people may see thyself”. I also refer to the tattoo I have on my ribs – “Wherever you go, go with all your heart”. There is nothing quite as important as emptying your heart every single day, leaving nothing undone, no declarations of it unsaid,” he explains.
Since then he has shot award winning commercials and corporate videos for, among others, Audi, Garmin, Nestle, Canon, Coca Cola, SAA, Johnnie Walker, Multichoice, Anglo Gold, and the United Nations. Jonathan’s Friskies campaign also won him a coveted Loerie award.
Two-time Academy Award nominee Kevin Harris selected him as one of 6 filmmakers across Africa to be mentored under the auspices of the Rainbow Documentary Collective. With Kevin, Jonathan has just completed their second documentary together, the highly praised Life is Art.
Following its world premiere, Jonathan’s feature film debut Jozi Kings was nominated for Best Action Film and Best Screenplay at the Nollywood Film Critics’ Awards in the USA, subsequently winning for best film. It was recently selected to spearhead a revolutionary new distribution platform, Kasi Movie Nights, bringing the magic of movies to the townships. The film has subsequently been nominated for best film in the 2013 Africa Magic viewer’s choice awards, and has made official selection for the 2013 Jozi Film Festival.
It isn’t surprising then that Jonathan has some high aspirations for his future, even though he has achieved so much already.
“I guess I’d like to be remembered as the guy who realised his full potential, never changed for anyone, a guy who made a difference for those in need, was the best TV presenter ever, and won an Academy Award for his beloved home country, South Africa.”
Jonathan is also as talented in front of the camera. Aside from being the winner of the recent My Top Billing dream reality contest, he is easily recognizable in local commercials for Exclusive Books, Absa, Coca Cola, Toyota, and Steers. He has modeled for, among others, Woolworths, Nike, FHM, GQ, Gucci, Abercrombie, and Calvin Klein underwear, and graced the runways at local and international fashion shows.
With so much drive to match his talent, Jonathan exudes a confidence that is not only inspiring, but infectious as well. It won’t be long before his exuberance makes a massive impact – not only in South Africa but across the world as well.