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Di Rosen has overcome numerous challenges during her 30-plus years in the television industry. Facing down multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, an abusive relationship, and a business partnership that went sour, she has managed rise through the ranks of the television industry as a producer and director and eventually start her own company – Di Rosen Productions.
She credits her strong faith for her ability to continuously pick herself back up through hard times.
“I am very faith-driven,” she said. “It’s my faith that helps me get through every single day, because God has been there for me when I have been rock bottom, and that has been plenty.”
Rosen began in the media industry working for a newspaper, before moving to an advertising agency, where she worked in print production. She eventually became the television coordinator for the agency before being headhunted by marketing and communications firm J. Walter Thompson in Johannesburg, where she became the assistant production manager in their television department.
Rosen was again headhunted, this time by a production company, where she worked her way up the ladder from production manager to assistant producer.
She soon began working for SABC as a freelancer, a partnership that would last for 18 years. Starting out as a production secretary, she was promoted several times, becoming a system producer, production manager, producer and director.
In the late 1980s, while she was working for SABC, Rosen received a devastating diagnosis: multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication within the brain and between the brain and body. The disease is often debilitating, and Rosen was given a maximum of eight years to live, and was told that she wouldn’t be able to have children.
“I was very involved in the television industry then,” Rosen said. “With MS you can’t be surrounded by any stress, and television is an extremely stressful lifestyle and career. They said to me I’d have to give up my work. I refused to believe it, I refused to accept it.”
Instead of giving up her career, Rosen continued to work, never went into an MS home and even had a son, who’s now 22 years old.
When SABC’s internal production company shut down in 1997, she took the opportunity to branch out on her own, starting Di Rosen Productions.
“I work either as an individual for other production companies or I, as a production company with a full contingent of staff, will offer a full-on TV production from pre-production to recording to shooting to editing to final mixing and to arranging the final broadcast,” Rosen said.
As a producer and director, Rosen has been very successful. She specialises multicam production, live events, live music coverage and music videos, spiritual programs and documentaries.
She’s directed and produced The Loerie Awards, the opening ceremony of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, and a documentary on AIDs for the BBC entitled “Lessons from Africa.”
She regularly tours with South African and international artists, including Janet Jackson, The Cranberries, Kanya West, Sting Live, and the Vienna Boys Choir. She has also produced and directed footage at the North Sea Jazz Festival and Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
Rosen also gives back by working as a mentor for multi-media production students, providing them with hands-on experience and the chance to shadow members of her production team.
While working at her production company, Rosen received a second diagnosis: breast cancer.
She was busy with multiple productions when she received the diagnosis, and decided to finish what she was working on before undergoing treatment.
“I’m in remission, I’m still in television, and I still carry on living and I still gym and I have a wonderful life still,” Rosen said. “So what I want to say is never believe that your life has come to an end when you are faced with challenges and obstacles, because there’s always a way to overcome.”
She’s also faced an abusive relationship and, more recently, a bad business partnership.
But, she says, that’s another thing that’s she’s going to have to overcome.
“There’s always a light that shines tomorrow,” she said. “Tomorrow’s always a better day. So my advice is to just believe that the light does shine in the darkness.”
Listen to Di Rosen’s podcast about her work and her life below: