By Stevens Muendo
Pulse: Did you always aspire to join the media, and in particular TV?
Janet: No! I didn’t think I had a look for TV. I grew up a tomboy, not combing my hair, climbing trees and fighting with my brothers, as I ran up and down in rubber shoes. I was a bit of a bully who used to fight boys. That is not a picture of a TV girl. Mind you, I never wore make up and had no time for the mirror. I still don’t wear make up unless I’m going on air. Janet Mbugua
P: What were your dreams back then?
P: What were your dreams back then?
J: I always thought I would become a psychiatrist or something to do with criminal psychology. When I was in Brooke House High School, one of my teachers asked me if I had ever thought of joining the media. Then I thought, why not? Back then, high school was crazy for me…
P: What do you mean crazy for you?
J: The first three years went well. The third was bad. I wanted to drop out of school and go look for a job. I didn’t want any more of school. But my parents pushed me to USIU where I didn’t do much but a lot of drinking and partying. After a little while, I left Nairobi and went back to Mombasa.
P: You had grown up in Mombasa?
J: Yes. I went back there and joined an FM station which used to be called Pulse FM. After a while, I found my way to Capital FM in Nairobi. That was in 2004. I made friends with Eve and Italia. Then I started thinking of my education again.
P: That’s when you went to Malaysia?
J: No! I went to South Africa for a bridge course, and got distracted. In Cape Town, I started modelling. I liked the money. As we got to 2005, I moved to Malaysia, and strange enough on my first day of class, I was being recruited for a fashion show. And the world of glamour soon consumed me for the next two years. I was modelling in clubs and doing fashion shows outside town.
P: Did you complete your studies?
J: Yes I did, and in the process, I got opportunities to work with the media there, and that gave me confidence to go back to radio.
P: How comes you came back and went straight to KTN?
J: I actually wanted to go back to Capital FM, but there was an opening on KTN. Eve encouraged me to try the auditions. I got the job and in weeks, I was presenting Out and About. Since then, my passion for TV has been so unstoppable.
P: It’s been two years plus ever since you joined TV. How are you coping up?
J: Oh! One thing is that I lost my private life. I had all these cool piercing and artistic tattoos all over and that had to go. I was in the public eye and I knew scrutiny would soon follow.
P: How have you managed to keep your personal life away from the scrutiny of paparazzi, unlike so many other TV girls?
J: Well, I did a lot of partying and clubbing when I was in Malaysia. But I was in the high energy early 20s. I think I have calmed down. I can be very experimental but I maintain my cool. You won’t get me dancing on top of club tables. I don’t get so reckless, though the wilder bit of me can still get alive. I am wild, but I don’t advertise it. I mean, I have been clubbing since I was 13. And I was still keeping my grades up, and tryin’ to take school seriously.
P: So you still go out?
J: Well, I have slowed down, I must say. I do a glass of red wine and go home…I am trying not to sleep with people…men! I mean, I have really changed…now I have a relationship with God!
P: Any relationship regrets?
J: I think I treated two guys badly, but I’m not going to kill myself over this!
P: You had a break up in 2007. What’s going on in your love life now?
J: Nothing much. I said I am trying not to screw up things. I lock myself up in my bedroom and write poems…I mean, that’s how I get over my emotions. I am a bit of a poetess.
P: But how do you treat TV stalkers who keep on telling you how beautiful you are, asking to date you?
J: Well, if they call and say there is something wrong with my posture when presenting news, I thank them. Love? Nope! I haven’t yet experienced any one person who overwhelms me. I have been crazy over people but I’m a bit proud. When I make time for a guy, ah…just know it’s getting to me.
P: Any one…now?
J: Well, my break up was ugly and I had to get over it. But there is this guy…I told him not to have a lot of expectations, just socialise. I just enjoy his company. But it was funny finding myself going over to his place to have lunch, just lunch, the other day!
P: Anyway! Where are you headed?
J: I have great dreams. But for now, I am working on some TV products that I will reveal when I cross that bridge. I am also working on my poems and other writings which I intend to publish some day.
P: What is your greatest strength?
J: Well, regardless, I know that the higher you go, the greater the pressure. I try to be myself and not see the beautiful girl on TV they praise me for being. I don’t let pride overtake my focus in life, because I really am down to earth. Not just saying that.
P: What’s your greatest passion right now?
J: I was in Korogocho the other day recording a feature and I met some youth groups struggling to make ends meet. I want to work in line with such groups as well as gender related matters. I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I really, really do.