Tanja Mairhofer can do many things. Since 2007, she has presented the popular Sendung mit dem Elefanten on KiKa and WDR, while being part of numerous film and TV productions, such as Matula and Hubert und Staller, as an actress. In 2017, she also made her author’s debut with Schluss mit Muss. The multi-talent speaks to Discover Germany about her latest children’s book and more.
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTO © MATHIAS VIETMIER
After being born in South Africa, Tanja Mairhofer grew up in France and Austria and found her current home in Munich with her family. “Home is where my family is and this is Munich. Here, I live with my husband and our children. But it was Austria for a long time because my parents are Austrians, I grew up there and I lived in Vienna for a while too,” explains Mairhofer, and adds: “Munich is my chosen home because I simply love the Bavarian cosiness. The clocks are ticking somewhat differently here, so that Munich, despite being a big city, feels quite homely with its many oases of relaxation like the English Garden and the city’s proximity to numerous mountains and lakes. People still uphold traditions here and you can still come across the good old Munich in some places, such as at the ‘Kocherlball’ in the Chinese tower.”
“It was a coincidence, really”
At the beginning of her career, Mairhofer worked as a presenter at the music channels MTV and VIVA, before approaching acting projects. She recalls: “It was a coincidence, really. I actually wanted to become a journalist and worked in MTV’s editorial team, so behind the camera. At some point, somebody asked me if I could also imagine working as a presenter in front of the camera. And it worked out well.”
Since then, a lot has happened. Mairhofer pursued acting and has been part of many TV productions and films, like the popular Matula series. At the moment, she primarily presents children’s shows, such as the Sendung mit dem Elefanten on KiKa and WDR. “It’s so much fun to entertain children and the beautiful thing about presenting is that it’s authentic. You don’t slip into any role and simply are who you are in front of the camera,” Mairhofer smiles.
The importance of idleness
For a few years now, Mairhofer has also started to write and publish books alongside her screen career. “I actually write almost every day because writing is like meditation for me. Through it, I become an observer of my thoughts and most of my texts that I write aren’t actually supposed to be seen by the public,” she smiles. One of her writings that most definitely was supposed to be published and read by the public, however, is the book Schluss mit Muss, which loosely translates to ‘Stop the Must’.
The book deals with an important topic: healthy idleness in a world where you seem to have to constantly better yourself. Mairhofer explains: “Often, we run after some goals that don’t really bring our lives any further when we finally achieve them. That’s why I question quite a lot and Schluss mit Muss is about that, amongst other topics. To make decisions easier in life, I suggest asking yourself the following five questions: Do I actually want it? Does it bring me further, humanly or mentally? Do I have enough idleness for it? Does it benefit me in any way? Does it increase my well-being?” And if something doesn’t quite work out for us? “Humour,” she exclaims. “Humour really helps a lot. With a bit of distance, you can laugh about a lot. The beautiful thing about failing is that you often notice how good it is to let things go, while the world nevertheless keeps turning.”
Trust and letting go
Mairhofer’s latest book publication is MAXI ist doch kein Angsthörnchen, which was published on 10 September – a beautifully illustrated children’s book that seeks to strengthen the confidence of children, while encouraging parents to give more freedom to their kids. “The idea for this story came to me because I’m overly careful as a mother. Over the years, my daughter Romy has shown me that she can master a lot of things on her own and that I can indeed relax a bit. That’s what the book is about,” explains Mairhofer.
Big and small readers can look forward to a cute, and at the same time, exciting animal story with the dearest of characters and beautiful illustrations by Matthias Derenbach. The book deals with a rather contemporary topic: how to overcome fear and to strengthen self-confidence. Mairhofer adds: “After all, it’s about letting go and trusting – trusting yourself and also your child’s abilities. Additionally, there are some topics in the book that I feel strongly about. For example, I grew up in a generation where women had to be nice and friendly at all times and I simply thought it was necessary to say that it’s fine to speak up, like the hedgehog in the book does. Or that it’s super courageous to ask for help if need be, so that we can grow and learn from each other.”
After having achieved so much already, what else is planned? Mairhofer answers: “I’m currently writing a fourth book, a yoga book for children which will be published in the spring of 2020. And, of course, I will continue presenting Die Sendung mit dem Elefanten on WDR.” “Besides all of this, I have planned to be calmer, but apart from that, I’m really content and thankful for what I have. A long-term project is to travel when the children are a bit older – travelling to really remote places. Until then, we will carefully examine every corner of Europe.”
MAXI ist doch kein Angsthörnchen, published by EDEL KIDS BOOKS, is out now.