Jo was born in Cyprus in 1966 and has been living in South Africa since she was 5 years old. Having grown up as an immigrant in the vibrant 70’s lifestyle in Johannesburg has given her a rich cross-cultural influence to her work.
Her parents went back to Cyprus often and therefore her education and upbringing was further flavoured with the rich Greek culture and British schooling at The English Grammar School in Limassol. Her having travelled so much as a young child has given her a love for setting eyes on foreign lands and meeting people and an ability to go with the flow of change.
She finally completed her schooling at the Johannesburg School of Art, Ballet , Music and Drama now known as the National School of Arts.
She had been sewing since the age of 8 years old and displayed a natural talent for cutting patterns. Often she would get friends to lie down on a piece of fabric and cut around them.
After completing her schooling at the Johannesburg Art school, she seriously considered a career in architecture but decided to travel the world before furthering her studies. However her father’s insistence that she get a qualification that she could fall back on, changed the course of her studies.
Taking her natural talent to the next level, Jo enrolled at fashion school where, given her ability to draw, sew and cut patterns, she completed a three-year fashion diploma in only one year.
Returning from her travels, Jo entered the world of fashion working as a Senior Designer at a large clothing manufacturer. However, she soon discovered that her real area of interest lay in individual wardrobes. Designing unique clothes that define a character was far more challenging on a creative level than turning out mass garments.
Film was therefore a natural progression for Jo who found ultimate expression for her creativity through this medium.
She is renowned for her use of colour and texture in the costumes she designs. Her inherent understanding of the film medium led to a meteoric rise through the ranks and within eighteen months of entering the film industry, Jo tackled her first production as a head of department.
“To work on films was to enter a world of fantasy,” says Katsaras. “You are given the opportunity to create fabulous costumes for unique characters. I love the idea that one can distil an entire character into their wardrobe and the results are preserved forever on celluloid.”
Since designing her first feature, the South African blockbuster, “There’s a Zulu on My Stoep,” Jo went on to design for a number of major commercials as well as television series and feature films. Her feature credits include Jean Jacques Annaud’s “Running Wild” for Sony Pictures, Village Roadshow’s “Tarzan and the Lost City” starring Casper van Dien and Jane March, the 2001 South African box office hit “Mr Bones” starring Leon Schuster, David Ramsey and Faizon Love, the Disney IMAX feature “The Young Black Stallion” starring Biana Tamimi and Richard Romanus, John Boorman’s “Country of My Skull” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche , “Racing Stripes” starring Bruce Greenwood and Hayden Pannieterre. In 2007 she worked with award winner director, Anthony Minghella on the HBO and BBC pilot of “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” starring Jill Scott, Anika Noni-Rose, Colin Salmon, David Oyelowa and Idris Elba . In 2008 she continued what she had created on the pilot show and designed 6 more episodes.
This blockbuster hit series has brought Jo worldwide recognition and she was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Costumes for a Series at the 61st Emmys in 2009. She was also invited by The Costume Designer’s Guild of America to exhibit those costumes at FIDM in Los Angeles in July of 2009 with all her fellow Emmy nominees.
In February 2010, Jo was nominated by the Costume Designer’s Guild of America for “Outstanding Contemporary Costumes”.
In April 2010, Jo received the Madame Figaro “Woman of the Year” award in Cyprus.
Jo has since worked on Phillip Noyce’s “Mary and Martha” starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn. “The Borrowers” starring Steven Fry and “Half a Yellow Sun” starring Chiwitel Eijifor and Thandie Newton.