Saturday, February 25, 2012

NANCY KIHENIA: Tall on telly

 

By PHILIP MWANIKI

How long were you in the US?

Eight years. I left for college when I was still a teenager. I attended the University of North Texas and studied Journalism.

Did the recession hit you hard?

No. I was still working and unlike many people, I had a chance to resign from my job at a uniform rental company. Many others were laid off when the recession hit. I just saw the future and it looked gloom and it was then that I decided to come back home and explore my options. I was to come for just three months but within those three months, I realised there were many opportunities and decided to stay.

Lucky girl.

I thank God for that because the recession really hit the US hard and people suffered.

How long did you stay before you got a job?

Again, thanks to God, I did not stay for long, just one month I guess. I met my very good friend, singer Kaberere, who connected me to many of the major gospel personalities in Kenya and I helped launch Power Radio. I then worked at Mo Sound Entertainment for two years.

How did you end up on TV?

It started as a discussion while I was at Mo Sound and my colleagues kept saying I am suited for TV and they kept pushing me to try TV. Then one day, we were doing the Groove Awards hype and came to Crossover101 for an interview.

You were being interviewed?

Yes. That was in January last year. Viyerrah did the interview. After that I did a screen test and three weeks later I was on TV hosting Crossover101. It was amazing.

You moved from a guest to a host in under a month? How did you find it?

I was happy but extremely nervous but the Crossover101 team really helped make me feel wanted and to fit in.

My first show was at Sunshine Secondary school and I knew that if I failed there, it was over for me so I seized the moment and it went well. I kept picturing myself tripping over the cables on live TV and I was scared but thankfully nothing happened.

How do you find TV?

It is an amazing platform to spread the Word of God and getting to connect with the audience every Sunday morning.

Did you do any media work in the US?

In school. I worked on the school’s radio and wrote for the newsletter but I had always wanted to be in front of a camera and I am living my dream now.

In a pool full of other gospel shows, what separates your show from the rest?

Everything. From the DJs who are just too fresh, the crew behind the scenes who spend hours and days making sure the show is relevant and flows smoothly to my style of interviewing. I try to humanise our stories and topics and I don’t just ask questions just for the sake. That has proved to be a winner because the audience feels involved.

Are you happy with Kenyan gospel music today?

I feel as though some artistes are losing focus as for why they do what they do. They are lightening the message instead of telling it as is. Many don’t want to handle the ills in the society the way they are supposed to.

Do you think the gospel music hype is over?

No. I just think the secular artistes are working harder than before in terms of their music so all the gospel guys need to do is double their efforts. Gospel music will never fall off.

How do you handle the fame?

I still will never get used to it. At first when I met people who recognised me, I thought they are people I know but I forgot about them so I would act like I remember them until I realised they know me because I am on TV.

Just the other day some girl stopped me in the bathroom at the airport and I didn’t know what to say because that was the last place I expected recognition. But I take it well and try to ensure I don’t do anything wrong in public.

How much pressure do you have because you are on a gospel show?

A lot. Many people, especially the very conservative people don’t understand how I present the show in skinny jeans and in “weird” hairstyles. I get a lot of “You are not very saved” which I don’t understand but there are those who would like to see me in those long dresses. The rest are cool just the occasional criticism which I have learnt to take in good faith.

What’s in your future?

A lot and I pray to God my star continues to shine so that I can bless people especially the pre-teens that I deal with; mentoring and engaging them to help raise a generation that is focused and God fearing. I would like to have a talk show in the near future and would love to get people like Oprah, Jonathan Ciano, my mentor Waikenya Igeria and even my mom just to get her view on life, raising me and her wisdom.

Is there someone special in your life?

There is someone with potential. That is all I am going to say.

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