Trevor Noah: the story of his life in pictures
Trevor Noah is hosting the 63rd Grammys Awards show. He has called this pivotal awards ceremony as a moment of hope and "the beginning of when we got to start living our lives again." An incredibly creative awards ceremony, it will feature outside performances on a number of different stages, giving it a music festival feel.
Trevor Noah was born on February 20, 1984 in Johannesburg, South Africa. His father is white (of Swiss blood) and his mother is black (of the Xhosa people). As Noah later tells us in his book ‘Born a Crime’ (2016), mixed race marriages were completely outlawed at that time. It wasn’t until a year after his birth that interracial relations and marriages became legal with the amended Immorality Act of 1985.
At the time, his family had to lie and his mother told everyone in the town where they lived that Trevor was afflicted with albinism - a condition that affects the pigmentation of the skin - in order to explain his lighter skin tone.
Patricia, Noah’s mother, was a big fan of actor John Travolta. So much so that she decided to name her firstborn after him - or rather, as close to his name as she could. In an interview with Daily Mail, she said: “Trevor was the closest I could get to Travolta.”
Trevor is a polyglot who speaks many languages beyond English. He said in an interview: “I speak English, obviously, Afrikaans, which is a derivative of Dutch that we have in South Africa. And then I speak African languages. So I speak Zulu. I speak Xhosa. I speak Tswana. And I speak Tsonga. So I’m trying to make that officially my seventh language. And then, hopefully, I can learn Spanish.” There are definitely some big brains under his comical façade.
During his childhood, he attended Roman Catholic Church every Sunday and was a Christian until his mother converted to Judaism. He still prays but calls himself more spiritual than Christian. Noah said in an interview: ‘What would I call my religion? The Church of the Truth. That’s what I would call it.’
Trevor Noah found a way to earn money from a young age. As a teen, he used to sell pirated CDs. He would also run errands for his classmates at lunchtime. For a time, he gave DJing a go, too.
Believe it or not, the now open and exuberant comedian had low self-esteem as a youngster, possibly due to the bad acne he endured as a teenager. He shied away from cameras and would keep out of everyone’s way when he was growing up.
One evening, Trevor went to watch a comedian in a bar with his cousin and a friend. Drunkenly, they started heckling the comedian and were obviously then challenged by him. In response, Trevor’s cousin and friend shooed him onto the stage. It was this moment he discovered he could actually be quite funny as people were laughing at his witty humour.
Trevor started out as a radio host and had his own show on Gauteng’s youth radio station in South Africa. It was called "Noah’s Ark:" very punny.
He was noticed and started working for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), presenting mainly educational programs. He is not only funny and charismatic but he also seems to be very light and nimble on his feet. Trevor Noah was the runner-up in the fourth season of South Africa’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2008. A man of many talents.
In 2010, Noah hosted the 16th annual South African Music Awards, where Kelly Rowland premiered the official MTN World Cup 2010 theme song 'Everywhere You Go.'
Having now solidly cemented his name in the South African limelight, Noah went to perform all over South Africa in The Blacks Only Comedy Show, the Heavyweight Comedy Jam, the Vodacom Campus Comedy Tour, the Cape Town International Comedy Festival, the Jozi Comedy Festival, and Bafunny Bafunny (2010). He was very well received and his stand up had really made a name for itself.
It was on 6 January 2012 that Noah broke records and became the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on The Tonight Show. He also became the first to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman in May 2013. Pushing boundaries and putting South Africa on the map.
The international recognition for his stand up comedy and quick thinking wit earned Trevor Noah an invitation to the UK in 2013. He was a guest on BBC Two's comedy panel show 'QI' and a panelist on Channel 4 game show '8 Out of 10 Cats.' Subsequently, he appeared in '8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.' His energy and comical appeal went down a charm and Trevor Noah’s name was starting to be recognised worldwide.
Paying homage to the risen star from their country, South Africa’s GQ magazine put Trevor on the cover in 2014.
In September 2015, Noah took over from Jon Stewart as the new The Daily Show presenter on Comedy Central. This move was the best of his career and he even says it helped him overcome depression because it gave him routine and helped him focus.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing however. Within hours after he was announced as Stewart's successor, people were drawing attention to comments Noah had posted on his Twitter account which were perceived as offensive to women and anti-Semitic. Noah responded by tweeting: "To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn't land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian."
Comedy Central backed him up, saying, "Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included... To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central."
Having presented every show since he began the job, it was a shock to the press to find out that one morning in 2015, Trevor had to be rushed to hospital in an emergency. He had to have an urgent procedure to take out his appendix, meaning he would miss the show that evening. Instead of finding an understudy, Comedy Central decided to run a repeat show and expect Trevor to feel better by the next show after a few days recovering.
Trevor Noah published his book, ‘Born a Crime’, in November 2016. It went down very well with most major U.S. book reviewers. The book delves into depth of the turmoil he experienced growing up in oppressive South Africa. The main character, however, is his mother. Noah depicts scenes from his childhood with great vibrancy and detail, focusing on the struggles his mother endured. Currently, a film adaptation of this book is in the making, produced by Paramount Pictures.
‘Born a Crime’ centres around the taboo subject of domestic violence in South Africa. In the book, Noah said: "For years my mother reached out to police for help with domestic abuse, and nothing was ever done. This is the norm in South Africa. Dockets went missing and cases never went to court."
Noah has tended to keep his private love life away from the cameras but we do know that he has never been married. Perhaps he never will - or certainly not in the traditional way. He explained to Howard Stern that he has nothing against marriage, but he believes that couples do not need to live together. “I am a big advocate for not living together ever, even if you’re married. I think one of the biggest reasons people get divorced and relationships break up is because of this cohabiting bull**** that we’ve come to believe is the way relationships are supposed to be.”
There is news of love in the grapevine, however, and it seems Trevor Noah and actress Minka Kelly have reportedly been dating for most of 2020. A source told People magazine: “They’re very happy. It’s a very serious relationship.”
It’s easy to keep things a secret with the restrictions caused by the pandemic and they were reportedly self-isolating together in Trevor’s New York apartment for months.
By now, Trevor Noah and Minka Kelly have officially moved in together. At the end of December Noah purchased a home for the both of them to share. Not just any home - a $27.5 million mansion in the Bel-Air neighbourhood. The 11,000-square-foot home boasts six bedrooms and 12 bathrooms spread across three floors. Not forgetting to mention the gym, steam room, wine room, screening room, library and chef's kitchen… it is a wonderful place to settle down, Trevor!
According to Celebrity Net Worth, at just aged 36, Noah’s net worth is a staggering $100M. His salary for Comedy Central is estimated to be $16M. He likes to spend his money on fast cars, nice watches and beautiful real estate.
Trevor Noah has stepped up to support his team, including video operators, audio technicians and stage management crew, during the COVID-19 pandemic and it is reported that he is still continuing to pay the salaries of 25 members of staff who were furloughed in March last year. He has said he will continue to do so until normal production resumes.
When asked whether we can expect to see any political humour at the Grammys, Trevor responded: “Everyone has a different definition of 'political,' funnily enough. I find what Americans consider political, South Africans consider general banter. Let me put it this way though: comedy is something I use to express myself in all ways, shapes and forms.”
And as for what he's most excited about? "I'm excited to get out of the house," he jokes.