14 February 2022
Sintamei: Single Kiasi actress Gathoni Mutua on channelling Olivia Pope
Gathoni Mutua did not initially plan to be the Sintamei Single Kiasi actress in the latest Showmax Original. And despite being slated for the role of Rebecca – the overburdened, cash-strapped housewife and mother of two (played by Faith Kibathi) – it was Sintamei’s career-driven character that ultimately won her over.
“She has so much range with the ups and downs in her life that it’s easy to portray her,” said Gathoni. “Your first impression of her is someone very put together and very corporate; she knows what she’s going to do in the boardroom. But her personal life is quite messy and haphazard.”
When we first meet Sintamei Single Kiasi, she’s a woman who is on top of her game and who isn’t fazed by a broken heel or the men who constantly undermine her in meetings. But in just a few scenes, her personal life starts to crumble.
Sintamei: Single Kiasi actress interview
“That element that a woman like Sintamei who is in such a position of power – she’s an advocate of the high court – is taken to such a low point with all this drama is very real. Just because you’re successful at work doesn’t mean that you’re not going through so much stuff at home,” she said.
For Gathoni, stories such as Sintamei’s and those of her two friends Mariah (Minne Kariuki) and Rebecca represent a realness in society and offer a rich look into the lives of the modern woman in Kenya.
But the realness isn’t just about telling well-rounded stories about women, it’s also about tapping into Gathoni’s and her co-stars’ lived experiences and those of their friends. Like her Sintamei Single Kiasi character, Gathoni is just at the cusp of 30.
“I think that’s very telling of how real this show was going to be. We’ve had to take our own stories and our own maturities of how we’ve seen our friendships with other women grow, change and be destroyed for us to now build the characters that we’ve built on the show.”
Sintamei: Single Kiasi actress, Gathoni Mabua
Gathoni Mutua has always existed in the background of our screens; as an assistant director in various shorts or an uncredited club patron in Lucifer’s pilot or a jilted wife cast aside in Jennifer Gatero’s drama series This Is Life. With Sintamei, Single Kiasi puts Gathoni at the centre of her own story.
Successful but chaotic, Sintamei embodies the kind of complexity that Gathoni, who is also an acting coach, has been waiting to explore. “It’s very interesting to contrast these two sides of her.”
Even though Gathoni identifies with Sintamei in the way she tries to grapple with the hectic world around her, she admits they’re very different in so many ways. “Sometimes she yells where I would have walked away, and sometimes I want to scream where she’s quiet. These are the parts where it’s hard to get into character but that’s the work of it and the fun of really understanding that sometimes you don’t have the same experiences as your character.”
It’s in some of these instances that Gathoni has had to lean on characters like Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope (Scandal), who, like Sintamei, is a woman whose successful professional life is a complete opposite from her personal life.
“She (Olivia Pope) is so organised at work but at home, it’s just a hot, cheesy mess. I like that dynamic of having to pull yourself together to pay the bills and to come home and realise that the house is on fire.”
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