Celestine Gachuhi as Selina on Maisha Magic East

She is a newbie. And if you’ve never watched Uriru Wa Wendo on Inooro TV or Tumaini Senta on KTN, then you’ve probably never heard of Celestine Gachuhi. But that is about to change. In the brand new Swahili telenovela Selina - on Maisha Magic East (158) - Celestine plays the titular role of Selina. At only 21, this is her biggest role yet. She describes her character Selina as a “naïve and intelligent hard worker who’s often taken advantage of by other people because of her good heart and need to always help others.”

Tune in to Selina, weekdays at 19:30 EAT. You can also stream it on DStv Now or watch it in your own time on Catch Up on the DStv Explora.

Living a life straight out of the Cinderella story, Selina's biggest enemy is her step-mother Kristina who cannot stand the attention she gets from her father at the expense of Kristina's two children. To put her evil plans in motion, Kristina tricks Selina and sends her off to the city to work as a housemaid, cutting short her dreams of going to college. It gets deeper; a star-crossed love blossoms when Selina meets Nelson (Pascal Tokodi), her employer’s son.

Celestine - a second year student at the Kenya Institute of Management – tells us more about this role in Selina and why this is a story she could not turn her back on.

1. What attracted you to play Selina in the first place?

I fell in love with Selina the moment I read the script because I could relate to her. Growing up, I was raised by a stepmom so we had so many things in common; it was like a story of my life. It was touching and I needed to do it because it felt like I was acting out my life.

2. How did you feel about landing such a major role?

It was an awesome feeling especially since I missed the first two auditions. They had to do a third audition because even after the shortlist, they couldn’t find the right person to play Selina. I heard about the auditions when I was shooting another show on Inooro TV but I decided to go for the third one. Even my sister was like, “This is you, this is you,” after reading the character bible. This was a God-given role.

3. Any challenges playing this role?

There were so many expectations especially from the cast members; everyone kept telling me that I was the face of the show and that I needed to work hard. I’d get nervous every time I heard 'action' wondering whether I was going to do the right thing or not.

Another challenge was shooting some scenes at night, especially the rain scenes between Pascal and I. Plus Karen is so cold, you can imagine shivering and trying to say your lines at the same time. But it was a good experience and I believe it will pay off.

4. The role of Selina is very tense, how did you prepare for it?

Selina has many unhappy moments in the entire season because of everything she goes through. If I knew that was the scene that was coming up, I would seclude myself from everyone and meditate about my character because I needed to bring out exactly what Selina was feeling. I had some parts where I was required to cry on the spot right in the middle of a scene and I had to be ready for it.

5. What happens if you can’t cry on cue?

Yes, this did happen and I’d feel like I let myself down. After doing so many takes without success, I would get nervous and start crying for real. Real tears would just come from the pressure of feeling like I was wasting everyone’s time. In such instances, I’d still find myself crying even after the scene is done because of the real emotions.

6. How did your previous roles prepare you for Selina?

Being in front of the camera can be quite challenging if you are not used to it. My previous roles gave me the confidence to completely embody Selina; I found it easy to get out of my world as Celestine and get into Selina’s world without feeling really anxious about living someone else’s life. I was also playing the role of Tess in Uriru wa Wendo when I landed this role... These are two different roles so it was easier for me to shift back and forth between the two characters.

7. How was it like to play Pascal Tokodi’s love interest?

I knew Pascal before Selina but not personally, I just saw him on TV. I was shocked when I found out he was going to play my love interest. When we met for the first time, we were required to work on our chemistry before shooting. It was hard for me because Pascal is a celebrity, I didn’t even know where to start. But he was very carefree and talkative; he broke that edginess and made it easy for me to work with him. He’s an easy guy to work with; he’s flexible and brings himself to your level so that you can all feel comfortable with each other.

Don't miss this star-crossed romance on Selina, Mondays to Friday at 19:30 EAT exclusively on Maisha Magic East (158).