By Caroline Nyanga
Pulse: what does winning CHAT Award for the Best Teeniez Actress mean to you?
Tanya: Honestly, it took me by surprise considering the nominees in this category were equally good. The fact that I won simply means that I am headed in the right direction. I will live to cherish it as long as I live considering it is my first award.
P: Who was the happiest for you that day?
T: My mother Lucia who happens to be my role model. She has made me to be who I am today. Of course my relatives, friends and fans too were happy.
P: Speaking of Tahidi High how and when did you land a role there?
T: I have loved acting since I was in high school. I did a movie Family Betrayal in 2007. When an audition for a Tahidi High TV show came along, Miss Morgan recommended me to the producer and I had an audition. It was not a done deal — I had to prove that I was good. It has been two years down the line and I love every moment of it. Teeniez favourite actress Sarah Hassan aka Tanya,21, has got a lot more going for her than most people dream of.
Teeniez favourite actress Sarah Hassan aka Tanya,21, has got a lot more going for her than most people dream of.
P: What do you think of actors Omosh, OJ and Shish?
T: It’s fun working around such personalities considering they are different from other characters. I believe they are great actors. Unlike the written script that makes OJ and Omosh appear cunning, in real life they are really cool. Neither is Shish as mean as she appears in Tahidi High.
P: Describe a normal day on the set of Tahidi High?
T: Fun and hard work. What you watch in 25 minutes actually takes close to two days to shoot. The casts are great to work with. Besides, the behind-the-scenes clip, ‘The making of Tahidi High’ is just pure comedy. My producer Catherine Wamuyu, is very understanding, which helps me balance schoolwork and acting.
P: Did you always want to get into acting?
T: Yes. I had a passion for acting besides hosting events. I also love watching TV so I guess this contributed to it.
P: Role model as far as acting goes…
T: Is American actor Will Smith. He is an accomplished actor and a great role model too because he has always managed to keep his private life private.
P: Unlike in Tahidi High — where you play this naive innocent girl who is good at advising and comforting fellow students —who is the real Tanya like off screen?
T: I think Tanya and Sarah have similar characters except that the latter is a much-grounded person. Tanya on the other hand takes being miss goody-two-shoes to a whole new level but is too soft and naÔve. I have learnt to develop a tough skin considering people can be malicious. At the end of it all, knowing, loving and believing in yourself is all that matters.
P: Apart from Tahidi High have you acted anywhere else?
T: Yes, I have been on a Sudanese movie this year. Although it wasn’t a lead role, it was a great experience. I am also endorsed by Factory 55; a clothing line.
P: Besides acting…
T: I am studying Actuarial Science at JKUAT in Karen. The fact that I have always loved mathematics would automatically mean that I do something related to it.
P: What are some of the challenges you have faced?
T: Certain people make big assumptions in stereotyping others. In my case most people assume that because I am on TV, I am a snob or because I am an actress I am a blonde so they really get surprised to learn that I am studying Actuarial Science. Some don’t even believe it.
P: How do you handle male fans that may attempt to make advances at you?
T: Being polite always works for me. I get calls and text messages from fans but at the end of the day they are my fans and I have to treat them well. A male fan once walked to me and gave me a rose flower.
P: Have you ever been stalked?
T: There was this dude who kept calling me all the time including sending text messages. Upon ignoring his calls and text messages he decided to visit Tahidi High — fortunately, I wasn’t around.
P: Are you seeing anyone?
T: Yes. He is a very special easy going guy who prefers to keep a low profile. He is not in the same industry but he understands that the attention I sometimes receive is part of my job.
At the end of the day it all comes down to trust. I think I have said enough— let’s keep the private life private.
P: Your advice to those young aspiring actresses and actors?
T: It’s to go for it. On one hand, they should always remember that education is the key to success while on the other hand, they should always keep in mind that hard work, patience, determination and self respect always works at the end of it all.
P: Tell us more about your family?
T: I am the only child of Lucian and Hassan. My parents are separated and I live with my mother.
P: How did you cope with your parents’ separation?
T: My mother, like most mothers out there, made me into who I am today. Besides she has been very supportive of my career — that is the reason she remains my role model.
P: What of your educational background?
T: Let’s skip the primary section for personal reasons. I attended Machakos Girls’ High School aka Mac Gee and sat for my O level in 2006. It was fun and hard at the same time. I was an entertainment prefect who loved drama and was equally good at mathematics. My most memorable aspect was when I was crowned Miss Mac Gee. It was so unexpected because I just participated for fun.
P: Something that people don’t know about Tanya is…
T: That my dad is a Somali and my mum is Kamba. I am a Christian just like mum.
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