Second Family: Dora Nyaboke on playing the icy Evangeline in her first telenovela project

12 June 2023

Second Family: Dora Nyaboke on playing the icy Evangeline in her first telenovela project

Second Family’s Evangeline Gatehi-Lang’at is the kind of woman you wouldn’t want as your enemy. On the day of her husband Leo Lang’at’s (played by Ian Mbugua, Single Kiasi) funeral service, she arrives home with his ashes in an urn, depriving her children and the entire family of paying their respects.

Dora Nyaboke, the actress who plays Evangeline, describes her as “a woman of mystery who’s very measured.”

Nyaboke has a knack for such roles – a woman who wields power, pitted against lesser and “weaker” opponents she easily chews up. Like in an episode of the Showmax police procedural Crime and Justice, where she plays a wife who has to defend her politician husband (John Sibi-Okumu) when he’s accused of murdering his pregnant mistress. Or in Single Kiasi, where she goes head-to-head with Minne Kariuki’s Mariah to defend her marriage.

In Second Family, her opponent is the 25-year-old illegitimate daughter of her husband, and everyone else who threatens her husband’s legacy. As Evangeline, Nyaboke is icy and calm in a way only a villain with a grand, diabolical plan against her opponents can be.

“She’s the kind of woman everyone needs on their side, confident and logical with her moves,” says Nyaboke. “She loves her family and would do anything for them by all means necessary. She doesn’t involve herself in matters that don’t concern her but she’s ruthless when crossed.”

Brian Ogola and Dora Nyaboke in Showmax telenovela Second Family
Brian Ogola and Dora Nyaboke in Showmax telenovela Second Family

Second Family, which launched in March, is Showmax’s first Original telenovela in Kenya, and Nyaboke’s biggest project yet. “I am having a really good time on set. It’s refreshing working with a professional cast and crew. The whole production is amazing,” she says.

In the interview below, the actress shares more about what it means to star in her first telenovela project as well as what it means to walk in the shoes of Evangeline Gatehi-Lang’at.

This is your first lead role and your first telenovela project. How does it feel?

I still pinch myself every so often. I prayed for this role, so it’s actually an answered prayer. The pressure is definitely there because you need to be authentic and stay true to the character.

As the matriarch of the Gatehi-Lang’at family, Evangeline is a woman who wields immense power and commands the world around her. Did you always want to play a role like this, and to this scale?

You know how they say manifestation works? I really did prepare myself for this role. I would imagine myself playing such a villain and would often research some of the best villains played in movies. So, for it to come to fruition is pretty awesome.

As a villain, Evangeline is very calm and collected even when she’s making threats, how do you channel her iciness?

Evangeline doesn’t let her emotions get in the way of her plans. She uses reason and logic with every move, hence the reason why her enemies don’t see her coming. I am naturally a calm person and I don’t easily panic, so I guess it’s easy to play her calm demeanour.

There’s this scene in the first few episodes where Evangeline cremates her husband’s body before the family pays their respect. Were you shocked by that scene and by Evangeline’s move?

I was shocked and tickled at the same time, but seeing it from Evangeline’s point of view it absolutely makes sense as to why she would do that. There is the aspect of betrayal from Leo, and also the fact that Evangeline will always be the one in control of situations, even if her methods are questionable.

Dora Nyaboke in Showmax telenovela Second Family
Dora Nyaboke as Evangeline in Second Family

Which do you think Evangeline loves more: her children or her family’s legacy?

When it comes to her children, she has no favourites. She loves them all equally and is demanding of all of them the same way. Her legacy is something that she will protect at all costs.

You’ve only done TV dramas in the past. What was the most unexpected thing about being in your first telenovela project, and especially filming a project like this with many episodes?

I am on set five to six days a week, which means that I have to have a lot of discipline and commitment to be well prepared for each day, which is paramount to my delivery.

Has your approach to acting changed, knowing that you’re working on a longer project than you’re used to?

This being a longer project, being in a good state of mind is key. I try to sleep well every night and on my off day I try not to do too much apart from resting. It’s also the time I go through upcoming scripts and really immerse myself in the story. The research never stops.

Is this the first time you’re acting alongside Ian Mbugua? What was that like? And did you have to do a chemistry test with him?

Before we began filming, we did chemistry tests with all the core actors and it was really great. We all gel so well together. This is my first time meeting Ian and also working with him. His approachable demeanour makes it easy to work alongside him. We just clicked from the beginning.

Catch new episodes of Second Family every Wednesday to Friday on Showmax.

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