11-Year-Old Kenyan Musician Takes Hollywood By Storm

  • Eleven-year-old Shannah Manjeru has written history after top Hollywood insiders came looking for her to audition for a role in an upcoming film, featuring the iconic musician Aretha Franklin. 

    A press release sent to newsrooms on Saturday, December 21, indicated that Shannah had been invited to audition for the role of young Aretha Franklin in the upcoming MGM Studios film, Respect, directed by Liesl Tommy.

    "The Respect film covers the childhood, rise to stardom, and impact on the civil rights movement of the legendary queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, who was a close friend and confidante of the Obamas during their presidency.

    The queen of soul Aretha Franklin With the Obama's at a White House event.

    However, the young Kenyans actor did not make it to be part of the movie. 

    "After five gruesome auditions that lasted two months, which tested 11-year-old Shanah’s soaring soprano musical notes and her acting skills, sadly, another young African American female talent was cast," the statement read. 

    Despite losing out to another African nominee, the Hollywood team lauded her for the potential she espoused and for her personality. 

    “We appreciate so much Shanah’s hard work. She is incredibly talented and wonderful. Both our director and music director loved her read of the scenes and what she did during the music session,”  the auditions team stated.

    Shanah was reported to have auditioned alongside top female prodigy musicians worldwide aged between 10 and 14 years old, in an audition that was conducted via video link.

    Shannah's trailblazing career began in October 2017, when she released her debut song Destiny, closely followed by We Are One, which hit the airwaves in February 2018.

    In April 2018 she released her third track titled Winner, which won the Song of the Year Award at the Kenya Gospel Music Awards in 2018, and in December of the same year, she released God Will Listen.

    Shanah also won the Arts and Culture Award at the 2nd Annual African Children of the Year Awards 2019 held in South Africa, and bagged the Outstanding Alternative-Urban Fusion Minister of Excellence 2019 award during the Maranatha Global Gospel Music Awards, 2019.

    Shanah has featured in TV commercials, a documentary on Kenya’s Vision2030 and a My Nairobi tour and travel piece done by BBC.

    Shanah was nominated for the Groove Awards in 2019, and has featured in TV commercials, a documentary on Kenya’s Vision2030 and  My Nairobi- a tour and travel piece done by BBC Africa.