Shiru of the hit show Auntie Boss has walked a rocky road to success, including being called “ugly” at her first audition.
She was turned away from auditions because of her body size, her height and even her “funny” hairstyle, which she changed after always being cast as a lady of the night.
“There are those who go home crying about it and it is over, but as for me, I had a very low self-esteem when I was young, until 2016,” Shiru, real name Nyce Wanjeri, said.
“It still comes back at times, but you have to live with it. I used to go to a place, nikiambiwa I am slender, I would not sleep.”
Speaking to Adelle and Shaffie, she recalled the day she went to audition at Kenya National Theatre.
“They were asking for 100 bob to pay for the registration form so you could go in and do your auditions. I did not have the money and so I talked to the guy there and he allowed me in, though I was among the last people to go in,” Shiru said.
She was 18 years old at the time, and oblivious of what to expect.
“I found so many guys inside who wanted to audition. I did not know they were called auditions, I thought they were interviews because I even wore a suit for that day. I don’t know how the forms were mixed and I was called after two or three guys. I asked, kwani nafanya interview mbele ya hawa wengine? And I was told that is what happens,” Shiru said.
The person in charge called her name but incensed her with his remarks.
“He said, Nyce Wanjeri, can you stand up. Then he said, ‘Unajua hawa watu wanaitwa majina kama Nyce are very ugly?’”
“I had never done an audition before. I was shaky and now that he’d called me ugly, I was so angry with him. He told me to take a scenario where my daughter is getting married at a very young age and act like I am very angry about the situation.”
The man further asked her to find someone from the audience to act as her husband.
“I chose him and this was my chance to express the anger he had caused by calling me ugly. I banged the table to the extent he could not take it any more. After that he said he needed a guy who could keep up with my energy,” Shiru said.
She had passed the audition. “I went home smiling and said to myself, people who call you ugly do not know what you are made of. That is how my journey started.”
That journey culminated in a “best actress” nomination in the AMVCA awards, alongside Nollywood bigwigs.