ONE ON ONE WITH MAUREEN KOECH
24 year old Maureen Koech has been acting since her nostalgic high school days where she joined the school drama club.She has performed in several plays performed at the Alliance Francais. Her first TV stint was when she nabbed a supporting role in the critically acclaimed campus drama Changing Times.
A budding singer herself, she enjoys playing the guitar, and her debut single No Letting is set to hit the African airwaves pretty soon so listen out! She stars in Lies That Bind, a show that has been highly rated, also winning the 2012 Kalasha Award in the best TV drama category. She absolutely adores acting and just as the blonde moments on set, it comes out so naturally for her.
Maureen Koech has worked as a supermarket attendant at one very interesting time in her life so it is highly likely that it was her you saw on aisle five.And yes, she is in campus chasing after the good grades too!
She was one of the youngest winners at the inaugural AfricaMagic Viewer's Choice Awards 2013 where she nabbed the Best Supporting Actress award, yet the ambitious Maureen Koech still aspires to do a lot more in the entertainment industry.
Fast rising actress Maureen Koech told Boniface Mwalii about her conquests and what plans she has for her future.
Did you stumble upon acting or was it a deliberate career choice for you?
I have always known I wanted to be in showbiz. I’ve been acting since my days in Nakuru High School where I was an active member of the drama club. But it was after I joined Strathmore University in 2009 that I really started taking it seriously and even joined the Strathmore University Drama Society. We would stage performances at the Alliance Française and from that exposure, I got the courage to go for my first audition, which is how I landed my first TV role as a supporting actress on Changing Times.
When did you make the switch from ‘Changing Times’ to ‘Lies That Bind’?
I played ‘Shiks’ on Changing Times, which was very minor role but it was a big deal for me because there was a lot of hype around the show. I also got to interact with some big names at the time like Ian Mugoya, Nice Githinji, Kevin Ndege and many others. At some point in 2012 I went for another audition at the Kenya National Theatre and that’s how I landed the role of Patricia. I had been in the industry for a while so it didn’t come as much of a surprise that I got the role, but I was grateful.
So here we are, hardly a year later and you have a continental award to show for your talents, how does that make you feel?
First of all, I never even expected the nomination. It’s the first time I was ever nominated for anything in my acting career. I was completely blown away.
You kept a rather low profile on the media prior to your AMVCA nomination, any reason for that?
Sometimes it’s nice to just do your thing. Publicity is nice every once in a while because you can’t always be doing things and just keeping them to yourself; but keeping off the limelight gives you time to do tangible things so that when you’re on the spotlight it’s something worth talking about.
Why do you think they nominated you out of all the supporting actresses on the dozens of Africa Magic shows?
I think they did so because they felt that I was the best. It makes me feel good that they think so about me. It adds some confidence to my stride. On the gala night I had some slight jitters when they started calling out the winners for the different categories. I guess it dawned on me that this was it. I could either win it or lose and the probability of losing was actually higher because there could only be one winner out of the six of us who had been nominated.
So how did you feel when they actually announced you the winner?
I remember I had some things on my laps. I think a pen and some lip balm so I just put those in my purse so things don’t fall off my lap in case they called me out as the winner. When they called my name I just stood up and went for my award. It was a very emotional moment. The fact that I beat all other contestants for such a prestigious title was an amazing feeling for me. When I went backstage they had to give me tissue to wipe off tears. But after that there was virtually no one else in existence apart from me. I was on cloud nine. I felt like one of the best.
What did the other contestants have to say to you after your win?
Honestly, I never even met them. There were so many people. All I heard were their names so we never got to interact at all. But if I’d known them I would have gone to them and said congratulations for the far they had come.Without them I wouldn’t be here because we wouldn’t have formed this category and there wouldn’t have been a winner.They we’re equally as important as I was.
How would you describe your overall experience in Nigeria?
It was amazing. First of all this was my first time on an aeroplane and it couldn’t have been more glamorous. I didn’t see that many celebrities in Nigeria but I was a bit star struck by Denrelle Edun. I’ve always seen him on Channel O and in music videos but he actually approached me. That was so cool. Then there was this time we went for dinner and someone told me to try out some snake meat which had been served. I’ve always wanted to try snake so I was more than eager to and I thought it tasted really nice. Then someone told me it was actually snail. I lost my appetite. I felt disturbed that it tasted so good. Snail should just taste bad.
Apparently you turned down a date offer from a big shot actor from Nigeria, what cut?
That was completely misunderstood. I’d prefer to let what happened in Nigeria remain in Nigeria.
So what’s next for you?
Now I have much more to bring to the table. This win opens a lot of doors for me and I’m looking forward to being part of the growing acting industry in Kenya. I’m going to be taking part in some new productions in the coming days but that’s all I can say about that for now.
You also sing…
Yes. I actually recorded my first demo after high school then took a break from music to discover myself as a musician. I do urban pop and currently have one single under my stage name Mokko but I’m still working on more material.
I love music but I don’t want people to get the impression that I’m riding on my current wave to push my music career. I want them to grow to like and appreciate my music outside of my acting so I’m going to give it a little more time before I ambush them with my music. It’s just a matter of time.