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It's Sarah Hassan's season

FEATURES
 Actress Sarah Hassan, during Don Julio Inaugural Kalasha Awards after party,30th March 2024 at Mawimbi Seafood and Restaurant, Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

A young Sarah Hassan popped up on our screens in the navy blue Tahidi High Uniform in 2009, playing the role of Tanya.

She was a lead actor in the teen drama that aired on Citizen TV and warmed hearts with her charm and talent from the early days.

At the time, she was an Actuarial Science student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, with a passion for acting and big dreams of making a mark in the film industry.

Fast forward to today, and the 35-year-old has grown to be known as a top Kenyan Actress, writer, producer and director with multiple awards under her belt.

She is a skilled performer who has played diverse characters, like when she goes from a bubbly, love-sprung bookstore clerk on Netflix’s romantic comedy Just In Time, to a tough police detective on the Showmax series Crime and Justice, among many more roles.

“I’ve never played anything like Makena before,” she says of her role on Crime and Justice, which was the first Kenyan Showmax Original. It is an interview conducted for the show’s promo in 2021, as its first season aired.

“If people were half as passionate as Makena is at what she does, I believe the world would be a better place.”

“I think I have watched crime shows since I was young. Name it, I’ve watched it. When we went to audition, I read the script and I was like ‘ oh my goodness’. Have you ever seen something and you are like, ‘heh!’” she goes on to gush about the role.

Sarah adds: “It’s good to be able to portray emotions that, not just me, but so many people feel.”

Film website IMDB reports in a biography of the actress that her debut role as Tanya earned her the CHAT Award Best Actress twice; in 2010 and 2011.

“Since then she has starred in numerous Series and films as well as hosted various TV shows that earned her multiple awards including Best Actress 2014(Now That You’re Here), Best TV Host at the Kalasha Awards 2014(Discovery+ 254),” the report notes, adding that she also went on to win Best Actress at Kalasha Awards 2019(Plan B), Best Film at the AMVCA Awards in Nigeria 2019(Plan B), Best Film at the Kalasha Awards 2020(40 Sticks), Best Actress in a Film Kalasha 2021(Just In Time), Best Actress in a Series Kalasha 2021(Crime And Justice) and Best Film at Kalasha Awards 2021(Just In Time), among other enviable accolades.

Her winning streak is no mistake, as Sarah has taken on learning and honing her craft as a priority.

In 2016, the actress and her husband moved to the United States, where she pursued higher education in the arts, having been accepted into the prestigious New York Film Academy to study television and film.

She and her husband were engaged at the time, and they have since expanded their family, having welcomed a baby boy in 2019.

“To top it off, when Martin, the love of my life, the amazing man who has supported me in everything I do, asked me to marry him, he also surprised me by getting two tickets to L.A, his and Mine. He decided to move with me as I study and try to pursue my dream and I love him more for that,” she wrote in a blogpost at the time.

Upon her graduation from film school, Sarah wrote an emotional social media post.

“This year has been an incredible learning experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

Sarah’s rise to fame took consistency, determination and hard work. While speaking to journalists at the launch of the telenovela series Maisha Magic Zari late last year, the actress spoke about discipline as a quality that contributes to her thriving career.

“I think being consistent, disciplined, and coming to the set prepared and being hardworking makes producers come back. What I usually do is create each character as a human being – understanding how they grow up and what motivates their actions. This differentiation ensures that each character is unique and possesses its own voice,” she said.

IMDB further notes that Sarah Hassan’s skills extend beyond just acting, to writing and producing.

While in Los Angeles, she wrote, produced, co-directed and acted in a short film, ‘The Company You Keep’ in 2018 that saw her bag four Best Actress awards and 4 Best Short Film awards, per the report.

“Through her production company Alfajiri Productions, Sarah also stepped more actively behind the camera producing the East African/West African romantic comedy feature film ‘Plan B’ that has now garnered over 5 Million organic views on YouTube, the short film ‘Reflections’ , as well as the East African/West African Family Comedy-Drama feature film, ‘Just In Time’ that is now streaming worldwide on Netflix,” the bio notes.

She also served as lead producer for the Kenyan Thriller ‘40 Sticks’ on Netflix and earned 8 awards at the Kalasha Awards including Best Film.

Sarah has often spoken about her love for her family, which she says grounds her.

While making a red carpet appearance as a Dettol skincare ambassador early this month, the actress said that being a mom tops the list as her greatest accomplishment.

“It’s a tie between my husband and my mum,” she says when probed about which person knows her best.

She adds that her mother is her hero and that the one thing that instantly makes her day better is seeing her son happy.

“I care most about my family’s opinion,” Sarah adds.

Although Sarah remains one of the most famous and renowned personalities in Kenya’s film industry, she has remained private, rarely diverging details about her personal life, close family members and religion.

She recently opened up about how she navigates social media and takes care of her mental well-being.

“With social media, I set boundaries. You will find that I will go offline for a while to get in tune with myself, or I will be online for a few hours a day or a certain amount of time a day. How much time I spend on social media depends (on many factors). There are times when I would go for a month without social media. It’s all about balance,” she says.

The actress adds: “On social media, people never post their bad days or their failures, they post their good days, their happy days, the days they excelled. You rarely see people posting bad days, days where they’ve made mistakes. So you never know what they’re going through in their personal life or behind the scenes. That’s why I’m a big advocate of people being kind to each other and it doesn’t cost anything.”

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