Not so Jazzy
By Shirley Genga
Pulse: Why did you recently decide to ditch the name Jazz?
Christabel: When I got saved I wanted let go of who I had been, and the name Jazz represents the wild times in my life. Jazz was a girl men wanted to date because of her voice. Someone who loved to party but was actually masking pain. When I found salvation I left that name and begun using my real name.
P: The ‘XYZ’ show which you were involved in, ended early this year, what have you been up to since?
C: This year I decided to take a break. After ‘XYZ’, I wanted to take time to reflect on my life. I had reached rock bottom. People saw me as the characters I brought to life and assumed I was a very happy and jolly person. My creativity and enthusiasm for my work had gone. I had become depressed and pushed all my friends away, I also begun drinking heavily. I have always been a people pleaser who kept everything inside and so I was tired and exhausted. I felt lost like I did not know where my life was going. A friend of mine invited me to Mavuno Church one Sunday, I went there with my hangover and gave my life to Christ that very day.
P: Were you the class clown while growing up or is comedy something you got into when you were older?
C: Not really, I went to St Andrews School for my IGCES’s and King’s School in the UK for my A-Levels. I was always the funny, happy and bubbly girl but never thought that I would make a career out of it. What is really interesting is, I loved acting but whenever I auditioned for a play, I always got the Jester or funny supporting role.
P: How did find your way into Capital FM?
C: While doing my O-Levels at St Andrews School. Our music teacher got us to compile a CD for a concert. I was one of the students picked to go to Capital FM to promote the show.
I met Sean Cardovillis there and he told me that I had a nice voice and that I should try out radio, I never forgot. After I finished my A-levels and come back to Kenya in 2004, I went back to see Sean but he could not remember me.
For the next two months I camped at the Capital reception, when they told me come back the next day and I always came back. My big break came when I met Allan Muigai (DJ Stylez), an old family friend, at Capital. He had just started working at capital and he asked me to join his crew on his Friday show from 10pm-12pm.
P: How was it working on your first show?
C: I loved doing the show with Stylez and because of my British accent people assumed that I was some blue eyed, long legged blonde. Even though I wasn’t getting paid, I was getting exposure and hanging out with Stylez and his crew. I used to come to Capital every day at 8am even though my show was on Friday. I would say I was doing ‘show prep’ and people assumed I’d been hired. I’d volunteer to go to events and do marketing as a ‘push girl’ and finally, I was hired on a temporary basis.
P: You finally found your niche in your celebrity gossip show segment while on Capital FM, how did that go?
C: After the Cess mishap in 2005, Capital was looking for something to revamp the breakfast show. I got picked to work with Seanice as part of the breakfast crew. At first, we would just give people free breakfast as part of the popular segment — ‘Ray of Sunshine’ but I had a great idea for a celebrity gossip segment, the Programme Controller picked up on my passion and we started the first ever celebrity gossip segment on radio. It was a success and so we were given more time and moved to the 10am show, ‘The Fuse’ .
P: Why did you leave if things were going so well?
C: I left Capital in 2007, around the time the post election violence broke out. At the time I felt like the violence was happening within me. I was unhappy and restless. I had so many ideas but I felt like there was no opportunity for me to explore. I was still green and naive and office politics was a bit too overwhelming for me so I resigned. There are no hard feelings; I still freelance for Capital doing voice-overs for adverts.
P: Tell us about your jump to the ‘Weekly Show’ on Nation?
C: I was a bit depressed after quitting Capital, I had not expected to leave so soon but things have a way of happening. After leaving, things didn’t really go as I had planned. Titus Maina the creator of ‘The Weekly Show’ asked me to join his team and I agreed.
I worked myself to death. We would work until the middle of the night. I was part of everything, I was involved in writing the scripts, editing and creativity.
P: How did you get to work with ‘XYZ’ on Citizen?
C: Once the ‘Weekly Show’ was done we heard about ‘XYZ’ show and nearly half the cast from the Weekly Show moved to ‘XYZ’. My job was basically to voice the announcer, an Indian character and the British employees.
P: Did you choose not to voice the regular Kenyan characters?
C: I have a British accent. I cannot help it. My accent has cost me a lot of acting jobs, although it has helped me get roles in the advertisements, when it comes to acting ‘Mama Wanjiku’ roles, I’m not so lucky.
P: Are you dating?
C: No, I’m not dating, who would want to date a psycho girl? (Laughs) Who would date a woman who breaks down in tears anytime? Ladies, if you are not sorted within, don’t date.
P: What have you planned for the future?
C: I’m not sure. I’m currently undergoing spiritual construction. I’ve been blessed to be involved in projects that have been a success but unfortunately no longevity. I’ve been approached to do a variety of projects but I still haven’t found what I am looking for. The next time I get back on radio or television I want it to be on my terms. I want to be a good example to other young girls, no more work without purpose.
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