How my mother grew to become an Insta star with out even attempting | Jelena Djurovic

“On the platform of a dozen filters, the place everyone is the editor of their very own Cosmopolitan, Svetlana Davidovac creates a web based memoir along with her pale pictures. There are creases, the reflection of a digicam flash, some figures are indiscernible, however we don’t thoughts. As a result of she is telling us tales and we imagine her. She doesn’t current her life because the bucket record fulfilled. She is vital of her closest ones, speaking about real-life ups and downs.” Maria Milojković, from an article on

Her title is Svetlana Davidovac, I’m Jelena Djurovic. She is 74 and I’m a bit youthful 🙂


Her Jewish ancestry is well-known and revered – Svetlana’s nice grandmothers had been the Zellermeier sisters, made well-known within the novel The Bridge on the Drina by the Nobel Prize successful writer Ivo Andrić. She is my mother and till this time final 12 months we had been largely at loggerheads.

A story as outdated as time: little one has a number of emergency buttons, and solely dad and mom know too nicely the way to push them.

Whereas I used to be rising up, my mom believed within the in style false impression that robust love could be tremendous motivating, so she by no means praised me for my accomplishments and that was in fact “for my very own good.” After I graduated from college with distinction she shrugged it off with “Oh, nicely.” After I grew to become a journalist on a nationwide radio station, Svetlana mentioned “You need to be on TV.” Then I grew to become a web based TV persona – “Properly that’s the Web.” And so forth and so forth.


You recognize that individual, a paragon of your typical by no means glad mother. She and I had been by no means correctly hooked up, by no means absolutely linked, like two random folks in an elevator. Principally awkward stares and silences, however this elevator by no means stops and for many years no person is meant to get out. No cellphone screens to take a look at, no headphones, no elevator music to distract us.

All that modified. If this was a film the place I didn’t need to trouble you with boring particulars I’d say that it modified in a day, or in a single day. However in actuality it took a) one sprained ankle, and b) a pandemic of biblical proportions. The world needed to (virtually) cease and one thing unfathomable wanted to occur in order that my mother and I may turn into a bit extra than simply one other case in psychiatrist’s submitting cupboard.

Sprained ankle


I had an accident in Sweden final summer time the place I wrenched my proper ankle whereas taking a selfie, and a tedious rehabilitation ensued. Physiotherapy, then relaxation, then swimming pool train. Clearly I had a little bit of time on my fingers. Mother advised me “since you’re tremendous bored proper now, are you able to add some pictures on my cellphone, someplace I can attain them simply.” Earlier than that she used to hold bodily artefacts of our lives in her pocket (pictures… like actual pictures).

So, I opened the svetlana_davidovac Insta account for her, posted a number of footage and added some witty but ironic captions. She was type of glad (wow!). As my rehabilitation routine grew to become extra monotonous, creativity flourished. Captions grew to become longer and extra humorous. Svetlana discovered them hilarious, and so did my buddies and buddies of buddies… (I’ve been accused of many issues in my life, not being humorous just isn’t certainly one of them).

Inside per week mother and I are Insta-masterminding. Svetlana’s small group of buddies had been thrilled, our household in Canada is all in for laughs. After ten days, mother begins writing little tales of her personal: tales about love and loss, our household historical past, her dad and mom’ divorce, childhood after the struggle, my father’s tragic demise in a automobile accident… I solely add emojis as a result of she doesn’t know the way.


Inside a month or so her account balloons to a number of thousand followers. Then in September 2019 her Instagram is immediately in every single place – within the news, on millennial web sites. She turns into a meme! Celebrities write on their social media that their moms are identical to Svetlana.

Because the account beneficial properties reputation and approaches 5,000 followers, comical issues are occurring on an virtually day by day foundation. After I go to a brand new café, a younger waitress asks me, “Are you Jelena?”


“Sure, that’s me,” I reply falsely reserved, pretending to be shy whereas I’m so very proud. I guess she watches my YouTube exhibits about motion pictures and TV collection and she or he finds me to be a cool TV critic.

“I knew it! You’re Svetlana’s daughter, she is simply too humorous, ship her my regards.”

Winter arrives and the account continues to be flying excessive, however now the tables have turned a bit… I’m everywhere in the media. I used to be one of many first critics within the area to embrace Joker as essentially the most highly effective zeitgeist film of the 12 months, so I seem on nationwide TV each couple of days. (Finally Joker will turn into the very best grossing blockbuster in Serbia ever, with greater than 350,000 folks seeing it in cinemas).


Mom is cautiously proud, she promotes my work on her Insta and life is sweet. We’re buddies and collaborators on a challenge. Who would have imagined? Actually not me.

Howdy March 2020.

The Pandemic.


“Mother, let’s use your account for a great trigger? You could possibly invite folks to remain at dwelling, preserve their distance, put on masks.”

From Belgrade to Zagreb to Sarajevo, the media in the former Yugoslavia united to unfold the message from an amusing, sensible Jewish pensioner based mostly in Serbia. Then, the primary “severe” article on the Svetlana phenomenon was revealed on Medium.

Serbia’s authorities imposed one of many strictest quarantines the world has ever seen (folks over 65 had been banned from leaving their houses for nearly two months, and the entire nation was in lockdown throughout Orthodox Easter for 4 full days). Svetlana endured all of this like a soldier and Instagram helped her so much. She took to writing good, heat tales as she lastly understood she may affect folks, give them power, kindness and pleasure. We had been on the cellphone consistently, discussing “what ought to be the following subject? which photograph ought to we use?” By in style demand, on her birthday, 22nd of June, she sat with me for a 30-minute interview and her fans loved it.


* * *

Mother has her ups and downs, however Instagram continues to be her ardour and my backdoor to the lengthy misplaced place, to “regular” households, the place phrases like “tremendous”, “sufficient” and even “grand” is perhaps used extra typically or… in any respect?


We’re all on this ship, crusing by way of loopy conditions, experiencing new issues and there will probably be some reckoning. My take is that the world goes to revert to its pre-pandemic situation as quickly because the vaccine is dropped at the market. However my relationship with Mom developed into a very completely different beast, and that factor is, I hope, irreversible.

That’s, till she decides that she wants somebody who will publish BETTER emojis.

Chairwoman of Organisation for Jewish Cooperation in Southeastern Europe (OJC). Well-known activist within the Jewish Communities and worldwide organisations. Movie and TV critic, popular culture aficionado, revealed author and former politician.
Jelena edits, an internet site dedicated to pop-culture and politics, and likewise runs her personal video manufacturing firm and YouTube channel. Her media profession began when she was tender age of 11, internet hosting a well-liked program for teenagers on Yugoslav Radio Tv. Hooked on journalism and TV from very younger age she labored for few roughly respected radio stations and information retailers within the area. During the last two years, she has interviewed a few of the most essential figures in tradition and politics in Balkans and former Yugoslavia, in addition to some well-known artists of worldwide fame (in NYC, for example, she sat with late Milton Glaser for an hour-long interview).

Jelena was an impartial councillor within the central borough of Belgrade (Vracar), the place she additionally served as a President of the Committee for Gender Equality. She is an avid fiction author (authored two novels, Kingdom (2003) and February 30th (2011).