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Yvonne Okwara talks about her career, marriage and how having a physically challenged brother has influenced her

Achieving Woman

Yvonne Okwara, a household name in Kenya, who has been in the media industry in for over 10 years, is a darling and role model to many. During an interview with Insight magazine,a publication of The Standard Group, Yvonne talks to Joanne Wanjala about her career, family and future plans.

Yvonne described herself as ambitious, analytical and self-driven. She also admitted that she seeks to speak truth to power through journalism. When asked if she considers herself to be a successful journalist, her answer was yes and no. Yes because she believes her voice has managed to bring to news production in her 11 years in the newsroom. Yvonne, who started off in Radio at Royal Media Services, has held other positions including a news producer, a show host and an anchor. She at one point worked at Nation Media Group where she started the show, NTV This Morning. Yvonne however admits that she has realised her greatest growth and breakthrough in the last five years while in KTN.

But where did her passion for the screen begin? Her passion began when she was only 8 years old back at KBC. She used to present a Children’s Variety Show and also did a variety of voice overs. No she is not a successful journalist yet because she is continuously improving. She is not there yet.

On the opportunity to be one of the key interviewers during the 2017 Presidential Debate, she admits it was one of the greatest opportunities she thanks God for. Talking about the whole experience, Yvonne admits that she was nervous which apparently was a good thing was since the adrenaline prepared her to put her best foot forward. Luckily for her, she had met almost all the candidates forehand during KTN’s “Meet the President” show. On how she handles nervousness, she said that whenever she is nervous, she zones out for an hour or two to reflect and internalise any task ahead of her. That way, her mind is able to clear.

When it comes to handling criticism and failure, Yvonne genuinely thinks she’s a little bit too hard on herself. She however takes failure as a learning point since what defines us is how well you pick yourself up after a fall.

On marriage, she admits that her husband, Andrew is her number one fan and critic. They celebrated their third anniversary in December. So far it has been beautiful for her and she thanks God for a supportive family.

Yvonne, who is so vocal on matters to do with people living with disabilities attributes this cause to having a brother who is disabled hence having been affected at first level. Her brother, Albert Okwara was born deafblind close to 50 years ago. This then has been a huge responsibility to all the family members and something that has made her learn how lonely the world can be in the world of the disabled especially in a world with high levels of ‘perfection’.

Yvonne hints that she is working on a plan that will create a platform for outreach and advocacy and support families of people living with disabilities. She is working with Daddy Owen to make Mulika Awards bigger. The awards seeks to celebrate and honour those who are making a difference inspite of their challenges.

Her advice to upcoming journalists: Be yourself. You do not need to try to be someone else. You don’t have to be a size 0, light skinned or develop a fake accent to be a news anchor.

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