21 June 2023
Mumbi Maina on playing Second Family’s wild card and meeting Keanu Reeves
In the Showmax telenovela Second Family, Mumbi Maina plays Katherine, the CFO of EAGC (East Africa Granary Company), the lucrative business that is now on the brink of collapse and financial ruin after the sudden death of its founder, Leo (Ian Mbugua).
“She is ambitious, smart and driven,” Mumbi says of Katherine. She’s also a bit of a wild card in the ongoing succession battles for EAGC between the Gatehi-Lang’at family. While she seems to be helping Leo’s daughter from his second family take control of the company as she makes an enemy out of Leo’s first wife Evangeline (played by Dora Nyaboke), Katherine’s altruistic motives are not to be taken at face value.
“Katherine is very mysterious at the moment; you’re never sure whose side she’s on. She knows how to use her strength and charm when it suits her,” Mumbi says.
What would you say is the most intriguing thing about Katherine that made you want to play her?
I love how no one ever really knows what she is thinking unless she lets them in. Her mystery, coldness and selective playfulness intrigued me.
This is also the first time you’re reuniting with Brian Ogola since Jane and Abel; how has that been?
I’ve always looked forward to working with Brian again. We’ve had great onscreen chemistry on the set of Second Family from day one. It’s wonderful that after all these years, it’s never changed. We have a lot of fun on set.
We’ve seen your character go head-to-head with Dora Nyaboke’s Evangeline; do you think Katherine has what it takes to win the war? And would you say Nyaboke is a worthy opponent?
I think both characters, Katherine and Evangeline, are forces to reckoned with; they just play their games differently. And Dora is definitely a worthy opponent. I love what she brings to the role, but the most interesting thing about her is how far apart she is from the actual character. Dora is one of the funniest human beings I have had the joy of getting to know.
You met Keanu Reeves during the filming of The Matrix Resurrections. What was that like for you?
I was initially very nervous about the entire experience. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect given the magnitude of the entire production and the fact that it was also my first sci-fi film.
I met Keanu a few days prior to filming my scenes with him. He was friendly, super humble and really easy going; that put a huge chunk of my anxiety at ease.
You’ve also worked with the great Lana Wachowski, who directed you on both The Matrix Resurrections and Sense 8. What was that like?
It was an amazing and wild ride. Lana saw my potential as an artist that I hadn’t seen before, and it was beautiful and scary at the same time. I appreciate how much she helped me expand my thinking as an artist and how much I’ve grown from my experience working with her. As a person she is warm, open, brilliant and direct. As a director, she was highly intuitive, patient and very generous with her creative ideas.
What lessons have you learnt from your international projects that you apply in your roles here in Kenya?
My rule is always to give every single role my very best, whether it’s a local production or an international one. I also try to keep an open mind and I’m always willing to learn, a mindset that has helped me with international productions. I have also learnt a lot about self confidence and the importance of practising my craft as often as I can, in whatever way I can. Every detail counts. The energy given on “smaller” roles will be the same energy on bigger roles so treat them both like your biggest break.
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