From reel to real estate: Why I'm not going back to the acting stage soon

Actress Milkah Ndegwa. [Courtesy]

Milkah Ndegwa has been a popular face in the Kenyan film industry. She played a prominent role in the award-winning TV drama, Lies that Bind, and the web series, Rispa, where she acted the lead role.

The Kenya National Theatre and Alliance Francaise has been her home for years. She loves acting, and fans love her hilarious acts.

Just as the Covid-19 pandemic paralysed the creative industry, Milkah took a break from the stage. With her little savings, the young thespian opened a real estate business in partnership with a friend.

It was a side hustle meant to cover her financial difficulties, but this has now become her new mainstay.

And she confesses, she has no plans of going back to what was her first love; film. “I know theatre is back and everyone is trooping back on stage. I have been receiving calls to cast for some of the coming projects. However, I have had a whole change of heart. That is the truth about my reel to real estate move,” says Milkah.

“I have given acting a break. My new undertaking is in real estate."

She is now the managing director at Milikispace Properties Ltd, a real estate company based in Nairobi dealing in moderate-cost as well as upscale plots and properties.

"I had to decide between acting and the new job in order to dedicate my time and resources to it. They are both very demanding. Besides, the current situation in our creative industry is worrying. Artistes are on their own. The system has no structures to protect them and ensure they make a living out of it,” says the mother of one.

Actress Milkah Ndegwa. [Courtesy]

Like many players in the creative sector, Milkah confesses that even though she likes film and theatre, it is not a profitable venture. 

Now she is using the artistry skills she learned in the field to enhance her media and creative division, shooting advertisements and other forms of communications to create brand awareness at the real estate company.

Admitting that the transition has not been easy, the rather social happy-go entrepreneur says she has had to adapt to the new conditions, situation and environment. 

“I am involved in the creative world every day, even though I am not in front of the camera. I am actively involved in digital marketing via content and creative production. Both worlds demand your full attention. It is humbling to recognise that when I was in the arts industry as an actress, fans appreciated my work,” says Milkah.

She says patience, proper planning and consistency is key in any business. 

“Real estate represents big dreams. Most people in Kenya aspire to own a home. I have the quest to help others, especially the young, achieve theirs. Being a lady in a male-dominated field, I am taking the challenges positively. I would want to ask any young person wanting to venture into the field to get started now. Do not be afraid of the big names believed to run this business,” she says. Milkah, who likes to listen to music, watch movies and travel during her free time, says the pressure to succeed in both gives her the daily push to achieve more.

Her son, she says, is the inspiration behind her hard work.

“From all my achievements in theatre and film to now real estate, my drive has always been inspired by family. I get busy with work, but family comes first. Family is everything. It is the reason we work so hard. Besides, I am now dating and life can only get juicier,” says Milkah.