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Beatrice Marshall: I'm lucky to be doing what I love

Despite being a public figure, Beatrice Marshall is not your typical celebrity. She does not seek attention and prefers to spend quality time with her husband Paul. At work, she moulds all the new faces that grace the television screen while bringing us serious news. She spoke to SHIRLEY GENGA and NJOKI KARUOYA about her life.

My profession keeps me on my toes as it requires me to be at the top of my game since things are constantly changing. What I love most about my job is that each day is different from the other. I also love that I get to interview people from diverse backgrounds as each person has a different kind of spark and charisma.

I have been in broadcasting journalism for 16 years and it has been quite a journey. When we started out, it wasn’t the same brand of journalism we practise today.

Media has evolved over the years as has Kenya’s democratic and political environment. The media in Kenya today is the most vibrant in Africa and I don’t think we have ever been freer than today.

I joined the profession in the 1990s at KBC. When I joined KTN, which was the first private TV station in Kenya, the process was initially shocking as it was totally different and bolder than working for the public broadcaster. The agitation for multi-party democracy had just started and the things we were reporting then would never have been covered at KBC, so it was really exciting.

Associate editor

I am currently an Associate Editor at KTN so part of my responsibilities is to nurture new talent and mould the next generation of journalists in Kenya. Training new journalists and watching them grow into great broadcasters excites me. I believe it builds a sense of mentorship and teamwork.

I have one motto: Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.

KTN’s Agenda Five is tailored towards giving Kenyans a platform to air their views on the Proposed Constitution.

I’m coming from doing a programme called Diplomatic Perspectives where I interviewed presidents, prime ministers and ambassadors. On Agenda Five, I talk to the common mwananchi but I’m not going to short-change them just because I talked to heads of state two months ago. I still give the programme and the audience the best of my ability.

Agenda five

Diplomatic Perspectives got to the level where ambassadors would call us whenever their heads of State were in Kenya and ask if we could interview them. On Agenda Five, we are getting the same reaction. People call to ask if they can be part of the audience.

Whoever came up with the Agenda Five idea was brilliant. With the shows, the people talk back to us and I have come to realise we under-estimate the intelligence of Kenyans.

People have read the document and they know the contents. I am constantly surprised at how well they articulate the issues. To date, we’ve held shows in Nairobi, Kakamega, Kisumu, Garissa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Isiolo, Embu and Nyeri. Today we’ll be in Mombasa and our final show this week will be in Nairobi. Wherever I go, I encourage women to speak up. I’m honoured to be part of this fantastic programme.

Today I look back at my career and say I have been very lucky to be doing what I love. When my time comes to move on, I want to proudly say I served the people of Kenya and I’m proud of my achievement.

I’m a public figure so people stare at me in the streets and I’m used to that, but I’ve never allowed it to affect my life. When I joined journalism, it was for the job not to be a celebrity and I don’t see myself as one.

I do my work with passion because I like it and it has been a wonderful journey. I do not know what I will be doing ten or 20 years from now but I hope I will still be serving Kenyans in one capacity or another.

There is no end to education and currently, I’m doing a long-distance PhD in International Relations.

Country life

I love the serenity of country life. After the hustle and bustle of Nairobi life and constantly travelling abroad (I am onto my fourth passport), a weekend on the farm is refreshing. My mother will always slaughter a goat or chicken and gather people around.

On days when I wake up craving farm life, I fly home and hang out with my siblings and their families then watch the cows and the sunset over the Ndalat Hills. We are a close family. When I was younger I craved the city life but now I really appreciate the countryside. I see my parents every two months.

I had a simple but wonderful childhood. My father was a civil servant and my mother a pharmacist. I grew up in a farm in Eldoret in a family of eight siblings (we were nine but we lost one sister about 20 years ago). I have five sisters and I am the middle child in the family. I was often left to discover myself while the elder ones take care of the younger ones, so I often immersed in reading novels and getting lost in the stories.

Everyone has a secret vanity and mine is my skin, especially my face. Spending time in front of harsh lights with layers of makeup can damage the skin so I spend quite a bit of money on facial products to take good care of my face. Also, every morning when I wake up and every evening before I sleep, I cleanse, tone and moisturise my face.