EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Tahidi High Star Opens up on Trying Times After Citizen TV

  • The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived. This simple illustration of the power of adaptability could be used to describe Kenyan actress and producer Shirleen Wangari.

    Having graced Citizen TV's popular Tahidi High show, Shish -as she was known, had the world at her feet. However, it was soon time to move on to something new, and this proved to be the defining moment of the young actor's life.

    Speaking exclusively to Kenyans.co.ke, Wangari confessed to having found it hard to stay afloat at first, once her Tahidi High gig was up, with opportunities were few and far between.

    Kenyan actor and producer Shirleen Wangari.

    "It was during this period when the market simply dried up that I fell back into my first passion, writing. I had to re-invent myself and I have to say it has been a beautiful journey so far," she narrated.

    "When the projects disappeared. I had to dig deep and decided there and then to start my own projects since I knew I really liked writing. You can learn a lot from YouTube university," she added.

    She went on to reveal that it was during this trying period (2015) that she actually opened up her own company Blackwell Films. Contrary to popular assumptions, the old Tahidi High crew actually drifted apart, with the various stars deeply engrossed in their personal projects.

    "It has been so long since I talked to the old crew. We were really young back then. People grew up and went their separate ways and no we don't have a WhatsApp group," she stated lightheartedly.

    Wangari has grown in leaps and bounds in her new role, with one of her scripts nominated for potential funding at the Cannes Films Festival in 2018.

    "We are in the development process for a film with some South African producers, with an aim to start shooting in 2020," an audibly excited Wangari disclosed.

    She reiterated her strong belief that Kenya has unmatched talent, adding that in order for rising stars to blossom, collaboration was vital.

    The gifted actress went on to explain that trying to navigate the unforgiving world of entertainment in the Kenyan market on one's own, involved a lot of off-pocket shoots (funding your own projects), and this was not a sustainable model.

    However, Wangari maintained an optimistic outlook, stating that the Kenyan industry had grown significantly compared to when she first started out.

    Actor and producer, Shirleen Wangari.