Sonia Zocchi-Dommann is a 52 years young South African gal with Italian heritage. She’s married to Guy Dommann and they have a 16 year old a son. She studied a BADA (Dramatic Arts) at Wits, majoring in Film and Theatre Directing in 1989, doing a thesis on the similarities between Italian creators Federico Fellini and Luigi Pirandello. Sonia also studied film at the Bologna DAMS (Discipline Arte Musica Spettacolo).
Sonia first made contact with theSQUAD through her amazing journal donations for Night of 1000 Drawings. We interviewed her to find out how she lives a life inspired, and a few other things!
Sonia, you have an impressive CV! What did studying in Bologna, Italy mean to you?
“It was such an inspiring time which taught me when there is a will, there is a way! Living in Italy was magnificent but it made me appreciate South Africa so much more. When I was in Italy we were really in the struggle here in South Africa – I will NEVER forget watching Nelson Mandela being released from Pollsmoor Prison on my aunt’s couch in Bologna.
When did you return to SA?
“I came back to in 1991 and stared working as a Production Assistant at Quayle and Associates – producing the Hyperama Price Watch and Price Buster adverts, as well as Heydeys Campaigns. Great training! I discovered the best way to learn is to start from scratch, learn about budgets, scheduling and how to film pack shots creatively! Later I joined VWV Studios where I produced and directed one of the first corporate theatre productions (it won a Loerie) and was a live event producer, calling the Loeries two years in a row and production of many Raptor Awards. Live Shows stage directing was my thing.”
When did you launch your own business?
“I started flying solo in 1995 with my own production company called ZD Productions in Johannesburg. I have had epic Clients (IBM, Coca-Cola, SAA, Telkom, Nedbank, Eskom, Standard Bank, FNB, Edgars, Rand Gold, Bidvest, Vodacom, Hansgrohe etc) My title at ZD Productions was Creative Director, EP, Producer & Director. One person, many hats! That’s always been my thing.
How did becoming an “immaginator” begin?
“In 2011 I closed ZD Productions as an actual production company and took myself completely freelance as a director, EP and creative immaginator. I discovered new things about myself...”
“I love being a curator. This is a space I want to explore more going forward. I now continue to work under the title of ZD Imagined and I am the Chief Imaginator. I am a social media fan, including Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.”
And you are inspired by sharing ideas on how to grow your journey through life?
“Exactly – and this includes inspirational quotes, writing, doodling, movies, reading and watching stage productions -although I’m not doing this enough. I want to direct again.”
How does that fit in with the journals you create?
“Under the #myjourneyjournal I have produced a journal which I sell called the Live Life Inspired edition. The reason for these is I want to encourage people to write. I want to help people deal with anxiety, fear and think about their own thoughts, and why they think them. I want to help people be more grateful and kind.”
Can you pin point any life changing moments, such as starting ZD Imagined - how they came about and what changed?
“There have been so many life changing moments … Going to the Topstar drive in and watching Lawrence of Arabia with my folks nearly 40 years ago was a life changing moment - I remember wondering how they made the film! My Dad took me to theatre productions and operas from when I was young – this should be mandatory at school going age. It has changed how I look at life.”
Having a child changed my life in a way I could never ever conceive of; it was completely unexpected. I was 36 and I made some serious changes when Liam was four – we moved back to Johannesburg because commuting was becoming hectic. My live is ever evolving and as I do stuff I get inspired to change and rethink myself.”
How do you keep from getting “stuck” creatively?
“You have to re-invent yourself often through your life. There is nothing that you cannot do, if you really put your mind to it. Nothing. In 2017 Liam got a scholarship to Hilton College and we decided we need to be closer. I now work with my husband as we started a new business distributing plumbing stuff.
I learnt Pastel and do admin - something I never thought I would do. I resisted it initially but then I thought you want to be closer, so you have to make this work. If you struggling in life, change something or change your attitude and mindset to it! It is the one thing you can control, no matter what.”
What inspires you daily?
“You’ll be inspired if you see your life as art - doing something like a Vision Board can help. Ask what do you want to see more of in your life? Change your look. Write an intention or a quote that you read for the day. Colour your world - wear your favourite colour, stare at a colour or some art for inspiration. Watch a movie. The music you listen to, the messages that you notice. Dance in the morning, walk, get some fresh air. Breathe! Everything is there for you to notice, if you just look. Learn to take note.
Write! Inspiration and imagination - these are linked for me. Albert Einstein believed that imagination was more important than knowledge … It is central to how I think.
Be curious. Change your mind and re-imagine stuff, often!”
That sounds positive.
“Yes, and to keep positive, understand the stuff that blocks you, that saps your inspiration, steals your joy. Anxiety and fear are awful, so learning how to breathe, stop and pause and reflect are critical. Being more mindful is important. Learn to have a more conscious tongue.
Learn to have a gentle answer. You can literally stop an argument. This I am not so good at, but I am focusing on getting better.”
Any favourite authors?
“Books by Brene Brown, Cheryl Strayed, Michael A. Singer, Elizabeth Gilbert and Iyandla Vanzant. Also find your own voice through life, and live your life trying not to compromise on joy. This is what INSPIRE means to me … IMAGINATION NATURE SENSATIONS PAUSE I (AS IN ME!)Reflect Enthuse.”
What is your long term plan for life?
“That I will appreciate every single moment. Try something new, often. Continue shouting at the rugby wherever Liam plays. Live with intention. Today is nearly over. It doesn’t come back. Laugh more, have more fun, make work more fun. Work with people I enjoy working with. Treat myself and those around me well.”
You're a champion of KZN now - what are your favourite local "event experiences"?
“I love finding beautiful places to eat and chill - markets and roads around Durbs and Hillcrest, 1000 Hills, the ocean. Oh my word. The Drakensberg! All the hills in Hillcrest! The Midlands! The aloes and cows everywhere. There are such amazing colours and beautiful places.
Moving around has made me realise how important travel and being inquisitive is. Try new shops, find new spots. Speak to people. Ask questions. Google! Become a Trip Advisor Attraction Expert, find a hash tag to follow, start one. I am getting involved in the Hilton Arts Fest this year by launching a video competition for the boys. It’s in its planning stages – I meet with the boys who are keen on Thursday so hoping for a few - we’re calling it Hilton Imibono.”
To find more of Sonia’s inspiration online follow the links below:
@sonzd insta & twitter
(It is a closed group so you will need to join – this has a lot of examples of my work)
Journal is available online here: