A woman who grew up on a farm on the north side of Sylvan Lake is now a star on the new reality television show Real Housewives of Toronto.
Jana Webb was one of six women who appeared in the first season that aired for 10 episodes from March 7 to May 9. The show premiered on the Slice network and is distributed by Corus Entertainment. It’s similar to Real Housewives of Vancouver, which ended in 2013.
“Real Housewives of Toronto follows six of the city’s most privileged, powerful and glamorous women as they navigate the elite social scene of Canada’s largest city,” the Slice network says on its website.
Webb, whose parents are farmers Binky and Keith Stephenson (he is a Lacombe County councillor), said Friday that she was approached by a production company about appearing in a then-undisclosed reality show. It turns out a friend of hers had referred her.
At first she thought, “I don’t know about this. This could be really good or really bad.” She was nervous as she was busy building her business and didn’t want that to be affected.
Webb, who survived a very serious accident in the Dominican Republic just after first-season Housewives filming wrapped up last October, is the owner of a sports therapy business called JOGA, based in Toronto.
Ultimately she decided to do the show and wrote a herself a manifesto committing to be completely authentic, she said.
“If I just was myself, some people are going to hate me, some people are going to like me. That’s real life and that’s okay.” The show is unscripted.
Divorced, Webb has a nine-year-old son, William. She was Miss Teen Red Deer when she was 15. She expects to know very soon whether the second season will go ahead.
She said she’s always had a yearning for adventure and left home right after high school when she was 17. She ended up working for an advertising company in Calgary, which led her to Eastern Canada and opening her own branch of the company in Ottawa when she was only 20.
More adventures included a trip to Australia, getting married, and living in Japan where she learned to be a yoga teacher.
Webb said she later attended theatre/dance school in Toronto when she was 24, and then hosted a TV show called Ultimate Destinations. She eventually worked as a yoga therapist in Calgary, where she worked with the Calgary Stampeders CFL club. Henry Burris was one of her first clients. She also worked with the Toronto Argonauts.
Through that, she realized she needed to bridge the gap between yoga and sport, and developed Joga, an adaptation of yoga, to help athletes.
Webb, who describes herself as an athletic person, now has 350 certified Joga trainers in North America who train athletes including many professional ones. She opened her flagship JOGA building in January.
When she was in the Dominican Republic last November, a vehicle she was in was hit by a cement truck. She suffered a broken back and concussion, and was in critical care for a week before being flown by air ambulance to Toronto. She’s still working on her recovery.
Webb said a lot of people from Alberta have reached out to her since the Housewives show. She said she learned a strong work ethic and core values growing up on the family farm, giving her confidence without fear.
“I’m so proud of that.”