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From hawking to TV star

Friday March 8 2019

Ashley Murugi. PHOTO | COURTESY

Ashley Murugi. PHOTO | COURTESY 

HILLARY KIMUYU
By HILLARY KIMUYU
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At 19, she was hawking utensils in Mwea, but she had bigger plans ahead. She had already registered her company which is now paying for everything.

Immaculate Murugi better known as Ashley, because of the character she plays on “Tahidi High”, apart from acting, is also the New Generations Director 1 at Rotary club of Lang'ata. She hopes to impact someone’s life.

Is it Ashley or Immaculate? — I started calling myself Ashley in high school. When I went to audition for Tahidi High they asked me what I would want my character called and I said Ashley. Not many people know that I’m called Immaculate, which is a good thing and that is how it stuck.

What is behind you inspiration to do what you do? — A lot. Kupitia maisha ngumu. I grew up with a single mother and a younger brother. All was well until things changed, and we moved to up country when I was in Class Seven. First, I didn’t know my mother tongue and then there’s culture shock. Adjusting was not easy. That ruined me and I said to myself that I will work hard so that I can make my mum comfortable.

How did you end back in Nairobi? — One day the company I was working for decided to take me to Nairobi for some training. I called my aunt and told her that I do not want to go back to Embu. So I hustled in the city and, by the time I was going to college, I already knew what I wanted. Now I run a company called Solutions Media Productions which does branding, PR and marketing.

How did you get into acting? — I realised that I had an acting passion when my History teacher gave me a skit to try out for the drama festivals. I played the role of a man, and we ended up reaching provincial level of the competitions. Later, people applauded me for the role. I remember that when I was in high school I used to tell my friends “One day I will be in Tahidi High” and they used to laugh at me. While in college, I saw an advert that the series wanted actors for the show and I went for an audition. I was cast as an extra. It took me a year to play a major role in the show, and that is how I found myself on this journey of acting.

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What is your take on the local art industry? — I just wish the government would support it, it’s really bad. The taxes are through the roof and too much red tape. You cannot compare Kenyan actors with Nigerian actors. In Nigeria, the actors will drive to the set while in Kenya most will use matatu, and that is why many young people are despairing. It is not as easy to make it in this industry as people think. Some make it others don’t. I have colleagues who cannot use public transport. They use other means because people think they have a lot of money.

What else are you passionate about? — I’m passionate about kids. Kids are my biggest fans. They will always stop me in the estate and surround me to just say “Hi!”. At the moment, I am single but hopefully in the future I will have my own.

What advice would you give a 19-year-old Immaculate? — This sponsor thing, don’t do it. Just focus; focus on your life, work and trust the process. You’ll get there.

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