Newcomer Vanessa Okeyo is having the time of her life playing the role of Sinde Lang’at, the lead character in Showmax’s telenovela ‘Second Family’.
Sinde is the illegitimate daughter of Leo (Ian Mbugua), who inherits her father’s lucrative milling company after his untimely death, pitting her against Leo’s ruthless widow (Dora Nyaboke), and everyone who wants a stake in the company.
Fresh from the comfort of her farm life in Uasin Gishu, Sinde is thrust into a world where victory belongs to only the most ruthless schemers, even if it means betraying your kin.
We caught up with the young actress and she shared more about her role in Second Family, acting alongside some of Kenya’s finest, and what it means to land her first lead role ever.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT PLAYING SINDE?
She challenges me; it is not everyday you wake up and find out you are the heiress of a company worth billions that you had no idea existed. What I love about her is that she does not give up; she is a fighter and she is not scared to fail because she will stand up and do it again.
‘SECOND FAMILY’ IS YOUR FIRST LEAD ROLE; HOW DOES THAT FEEL?
It is a big jump as an actress. I did not know I was auditioning for a lead; I thought it was a role like any other. So funny story, when I got the call, I did not pick up, not intentionally though. I had a rough day and I did not know if it was good news or bad news. My head was all over the place, but when I called back and got the news, I was over the moon. I could not believe it. Till now I am just like, “Slap me, please; this cannot be real.”
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YOU HAVE SHARED SCENES WITH SOME GREAT ACTORS IN KENYA LIKE MUMBI MAINA, BRIAN OGOLA, DORA NYABOKE, IAN MBUGUA, AND HELEN KELI, WHO ARE ALSO PART OF ‘SECOND FAMILY’. WHAT IS THAT LIKE?
I have learnt a lot from them, and I usually study how they do their craft, watch their performances whenever we are together on set, and pick up a few things. Once in a while, I seek advice from them career-wise.
WOULD YOU SAY SINDE IS WAY IN OVER HER HEAD IN A CUT-THROAT WORLD?
I do not think she is way over her head. I believe she knows what she is doing most of the time. The problem is she trusts the wrong people. She is just confused in this company that she now owns, and that she did not even know existed before. Becoming a CEO in her very first job, she makes the choices that she believes are best for the company to be successful.
Does it ever get frustrating for you to see her so easily manipulated and used?
It does get frustrating because I am like, “For a 24-year-old girl with a Master’s degree, you are this gullible? What is going on?” Sometimes I just laugh and I get through it. Sometimes I get mad, but I have come to accept Sinde for who she is. She is just a fictional character, so whenever I am reading the script and I see some parts that make me go, “Do not do that girl,” I pinch myself back to reality and remind myself it is Sinde. She has something to teach all the young ladies out there.