You know those good shows which have you snapping your fingers while pointing at the screen so many times because you keep seeing scenes you relate with, that is how Country Queen has been for Kenyans.
The series has six episodes, some were shot in Nairobi and others in Machakos for more than 77 days.
Netflix had a proper budget for this show incorporating 87 crew members, 250 extras and 80 cast members who combined their top-notch skills to produce the best first Kenyan series.
Among these astounding team members is the most talked about character, the show’s protagonist, the legendary queen of the country, Melissa Kiplagat.
From her role in the series, you can tell that she is a professional actor. In addition, she is a trainer in the same profession and a mother.
Kiplagat is an alumnus of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts where she did her master's and graduated in 2017. On completing her studies, she came back to Kenya to specifically train others, an activity she takes part in date under Melissa Kiplagat Masterclass (MKM).
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During an interview with Charles Otieno, History Makers show host, Kiplagat stated that her auditions for the role were super easy and fun as it is something she enjoys doing, unlike most people.
Country Queen brought out the main character, Akisa, with so much authenticity to the point of making some scenes look like a reality.
“I always say Akisa is just like any other girl who is trying to find her place and people in the world. She had her child taken away from her by her parents pretty soon after her child was born. She is at a point where her past and present are colliding and she has to figure everything out.”
She relates to the role since she was a new mother of a four-month-old angel back in 2019 when they shot the pilot episode.
“Being away from her for like weeks at that time sucked. As a new mom I had to pump (breast milk) and when you pump you get hot flushes. So I’m there already heating up, in black boots, a cosset and in the heat of Machakos. It was a hectic experience,” she said.
Amidst all these struggles, she narrates that working with the whole crew was her major highlight. It was an honour for her to be a lead role in a show that ended up in history books as the first in East Africa from Netflix.
Watching a show that she has acted in is not her thing. However, Country Queen was so golden that she watched it. “I loved scenes with my mum, Mumbi Kaigwa. It was such a complicated relationship but she pulled it off really nicely. Bearing in mind that she is also a mum, it was such an amazing experience to explore that dynamic with her.”
On the contrary, she believes she could have done better in the scene with Blessing Lung’aho, which unfortunately is in the promo, where she tells him to go back to his wife. “I didn’t like my performance in it.”
Country Queen placed Kiplagat at the peak of her career. Working with Netflix was her goal and having accomplished it, she wants to now focus on directing, hosting and presenting.
Currently, she is working on something with Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI). Shh! That’s our little secret.