Lately, Mondays aren’t Mondays without the mellow voice of Toni gracing the screens every evening on the drama series My Two Wives on KTN Home.
She will be heard plotting one thing or another, often in her bid to remain the de facto wife of Zach, who has been forced by circumstances to get a second wife.
The woman who plays Toni is a seasoned actress called Diana Mulwa. No one can deny that she knows her stuff.
Diana has been nominated for honours of best lead actress in a TV drama in the forthcoming Kalasha Awards. (Click to see nominees’ list.)
She spoke with Media Critic Kenya’s DAVID MWENDA on her acting career.
DAVID: Your role on TV makes you look very serious and no-nonsense. But really, who is Diana Mulwa and where did she grow up?
DIANA: Diana Mulwa is really a simple, sensitive, introverted and God-fearing lady who is constantly seeking self-improvement in every aspect of her life.
I grew up in Nairobi, specifically the Kenya High School. We lived in the teachers’ quarters since my mother was a Physics teacher there for over 30 years.
You hadn’t got into acting that much before. How did you get into acting and My Two Wives?
Well, I’ve actually been acting all my life, since primary school. I got my first professional gig at 19 years after auditioning, where I did a play with Heartstrings Kenya called “Body Language”. I kept auditioning thereafter for over three years until I landed a role on the hit TV series “Changing Times”, playing Pauline, a secretary to the main character, Mr Kanyi. I then proceeded to do various pilots which haven’t been syndicated by a TV station yet and plays with Festival of Creative Arts (FCA).
As for “My Two Wives”, I got a call from the producer (who also happens to be the producer of “Changing Times”) for an audition and the rest, as they say is history.
What is the one thing that people do not about Diana Mulwa?
Hmm, well. I think because of the characters I have played in the past and now on “My Two Wives” people expect me to be a Diva and unfriendly..but on the contrary, I am actually quite shy but very easy-going and friendly when you get to know me.
You are a nutritionist and you also act, how do you balance the two?
Well, I’m actually doing my Master’s in food science and nutrition so am studying to become a researcher in that field. My project schedule is actually quite flexible so when I am not on set I maximise my time to ensure I do as much as possible with regards to my project.
My Two Wives is generally gaining a lot of traction because of the story line. What do you think has led to the success of the first season and now the second season?
We are actually in the third season now. I believe Kenyans love watching programs that are relatable and that is what “My Two Wives” brings to the table; relatability but with a touch of humor. Issues pertaining to traditions versus modernity are very pertinent in our country considering we are in that transition as a country, hence the relatability.
Going forward, are you planning to do some other films and feature in other genres of acting?
Absolutely! Acting has always been a passion of mine since childhood so I intend on continuing until my old age. But more so, doing films and series that are impactful in one way or another to society.
What is the one thing you are learning from My Two Wives personally about yourself and the feedback you are getting from people?
Hmm, that’s a hard one. I guess looking at Toni’s situation. I probably would not be so open to the idea of wife inheritance like Toni. The feedback we have been getting from the show has been, for most part, positive. The love that fans show through their interactions with us on various social media platforms really encourages us to keep on keeping on. We really love our fans and are so grateful to them for getting the show where it is thus far.
Do you think enough is being done to support the acting industry and how it is perceived in general? And what are some of the challenges and things you have picked up?
Well, for sure, looking back from when I started, a lot has changed. So, we are slowly headed in the right direction. Still a lot can be done to improve the industry, for example corporates investing more in movie production thus having better resources to make quality films and also for Kenyans to be more appreciative of Kenyan film and having a better film watching culture. Theatre attendance has really improved over the years though, so I will give Kenyans that.
Where do you want to be as an actress, five years from now?
I have been eyeing that Oscar for quite sometime now (haha!). So, I hope that I will be doing international films and series, acting alongside actors that I have admired for the longest time!
What’s next for Diana Mulwa?
Well, as of now I will continue honing my craft and bettering myself as an actor.