So Busy: Keeping Up with Jannelle So

Sunday December 1, 2019

By: Naiia Lajoie

Those based in the Philippine Motherland might remember Jannelle So from her sportscaster days courtside for the Philippine Basketball Association. Others who have emigrated stateside might have caught her on various news outlets broadcasted on TFC (The Filipino Channel) or on Kababayan LA via KSCI Channel 18. The Chinese-Filipina TV personality has an extensive resume spanning across numerous platforms like Wikipedia, Instagram (@sojannelle), and her own personal website But Manila Up! wanted to catch up with the now mother-of-two to see what was new in her ever-busy world and ever-growing family.

After a bit of a hiatus brought on by motherhood, Jannelle is back on track in terms of her TV career. The hands-on mother is by no means disappointed by her career getting sidetracked; in fact, she welcomed the change: “I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I’ve always been blessed with a good career. As such, I’m not that ambitious anymore. I don’t know if that’s good or bad… I just know that, I married late”. Jannelle married an Englishman living in Los Angeles whom she had met online. Director Lester Perkins proposed exactly twelve months after the initial exchange of emails were made between them. She was 37. After a previous engagement had been broken when she was 34, her family – in typical and traditional Filipino fashion – assumed she would be a spinster forever. Luckily that outcome was So far from the truth.

Janelle is actually So into dates. A stickler for pre-planning, she and Lester decided to get married on July 20th, a date far from life’s other celebrations and those of their family members. They wanted to reserve the month for themselves, and the sentiment extended to the birth of the children as well. Initially when they started trying, Jannelle was aiming for an auspicious date devoid of any other major holidays. So naturally, the due date she was given for the birth of their daughter was December 24th. Not to worry, Jannelle gave birth weeks in advance. Her daughter Lilly will be turning 4 on December 6th.

Take two. In 2018 the couple learned that they were with child again – this time a son, due December 16th. Fate intervened, and again the child was born early. Her son Leo will be 1 on November 25th. So with the births of a little Christmas miracle and a Thanksgiving gift that keeps on giving, despite the compounded birthdates Jannelle is elated with how it all fell into place: “Family is the only thing that lasts. Employment can come and go, but if your value is based on what you do for a living, then that’s not very fulfilling”. So, how DOES Jannelle manage to make it all work? She gushes over how lucky she is to have a solid support system. While her husband travels for work – VP/Head of Production of “Givewith”, a social enterprise founded by Paul Polizzotto – Lester is very helpful and equally hands-on. While he is traveling abroad for work (like at the time of this interview, in Peru) they have a live-in nanny for each child who stays from Tuesday afternoons to Friday mornings.

So is it all worth it? After numerous starts and stops – quitting her old show in 2014, reviving the career due to boredom in 2015, hosting here & there on CBS in the interim, then launching “So Jannelle” (syndicated on TFC and the Lifestyle Network) in 2017, only to be put on 8 weeks of bed rest during her pregnancy with Leo in 2018, and finally celebrating its 2nd year anniversary in 2019 while still taking care of a baby; nursing, pumping, and not being able to work long hours – can the tenacious mother-of-two make the time for a business that has seemingly slowed down?

Jannelle is So all-in. Her dedication to her cause is only dwarfed by her doting on her children. “Family is the one thing I feel I can hold onto. Having experienced highs in my career here and in the Philippines, there’s [still] nothing like spending time with my children” she says over the phone with child in hand. “Time management is the key. I meal prep for my kids; no ready-made anything, I cook everything”.

Motherhood is not without its sacrifices, and even for the super-womanly busybody that Jannelle is, her priorities remain fixed and true. “I adjust my lifestyle accordingly. I do not go out late at night and regrettably turn down invites so that I can spend time with kids in the morning after ensuring I get enough sleep”. The family has decided to stay put for the holidays, especially given a hectic schedule is their norm. While they did spend two weeks in England and visited Croatia for one during the summer, she admits it is difficult traveling with children. “One is manageable. Two is tough”.

So what is in store for the talk show host and journalist who is accustomed to gracing the same space as Miss Universe Catriona Gray? Or covering the perpetual man of the hour who packs a powerful punch, Manny Pacquiao? Jannelle plans on putting the “So” back in “Social”. With her children growing, she wants to take care of herself more; return to working out. “In 2020 I want to push more. Travel more. Attend more night events. Build the show. I want more stories. I’m trying different things; I want to do more on social media for a stronger digital presence”. Well Jannelle, we are So impressed by your conviction, So inspired by your familial dedication, and So excited to see what you do next. We have no doubt it will be So exceptional.

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