What you need to know:
- The energy and vibes they emitted through their music was so much it was infectious. It was like life in the limelight was made for them.
- Debbie and Shinde would be bridesmaids at Angie’s wedding afterwards, in what Shinde says is still a lifelong friendship.
The last time Angela Mwandanda, one member of the all-girl music group Tattuu whom fans fondly call Shinde, was on the screens was in the 2000s.
Then she went off and stayed out of the limelight. Until recently, when she resurfaced, not with a hit song but as a cast member of the popular television series Selina on Showmax and Maisha Magic East on DStv
When they were in Tattuu, Shinde, Debbie Asila and Angela Ndambuki made waves with their vivacious style, agility, beauty and dazzling smiles.The energy and vibes they emitted through their music was so much it was infectious. It was like life in the limelight was made for them.
Yet, when the group called it quits a few short years later, only Debbie Asila would remain in the public eye, as a radio presenter at Kiss FM.
But it was Shinde’s almost total disappearance that would be the loudest silence as Angela Ndambuki, a lawyer, was often in the spotlight as the chief executive of the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK).
“Interestingly,” says Shinde reflectively, “we never had like a boardroom meeting where decided it’s over! Debbie became expectant then Angie also became expectant the year after that. We no longer had the time to go to the studio or to do gigs. We also started getting 8-to-5 jobs.”
Debbie and Shinde would be bridesmaids at Angie’s wedding afterwards, in what Shinde says is still a lifelong friendship.
Shinde’s passion for things media saw her work at an advertising agency for two years before going to work for Hallmark Advertising & Marketing Limited, an experiential marketing firm. She also worked with Hellofood, now Jumia Food, before her final stint in the corporate world at MyMoviesAfrica, a videos-on-demand company.
With her other Tattuu members having spouses and children, Shinde couldn’t escape society’s gaze of expectations and the pressure was being piled on her to make a similar move.
“I have been quite private, not wanting people too much in my hair. I wanted to try new things and make some mistakes with fewer people critiquing my lifestyle. It gave me peace of mind,” she says.
Discussions among her friends have revealed that women of certain ages are expected to have fallen in love, got married and have children.
“Being a different generation from our folks, we’re sort of more informed about our decisions. Maybe due to research and information on the internet about people and how they are handling marriage, we are willing to do things in our own time and terms. I don’t think our parents even thought that they could put their foot down and do things when you’re ready psychologically or financially; it’s you who will be left carrying that burden alone in the end,” she says, which also prompted her to put out the song Presha last year.
Now, after years of being away from the public eye, Shinde is in the eye of a potential storm: being hated by fans for her role in Selina. The character she plays, Katie, is making viewers uncomfortable as she comes between popular lovebirds, Dr Leshan and Patricia Mackenzie.
Yet she hadn’t even planned to go on the small screen. When she got on the Selina cast, work had started slowing down at MyMoviesAfrica.
“The acting industry in Nairobi is so small. I had called up a friend to tell him I was available and interested in getting back into the acting scene. It so happened there were auditions going on the same day, and he asked me to go if I felt ready,” recalls Shinde.
She went to the casting director and explained that although she wasn’t on the list of actors they were expecting, she was willing to wait and audition after everyone was done.
She was given a script in Swahili, which made her nervous. She wasn’t very confident that she would pull a “good enough accent” to get the part. She credits her training at Phoenix Theatre and the roles she had in movies like Dear Mother (2016) and Inner Beauty (How Lisa Got Her Confidence Back) (2019) to make the script her own.
A few days later, she was on the shortlist with another actor and ended up getting the role of Katie.
“I love being on set and on screen. Working my Swahili helps me be a better communicator and storyteller. I’m also the antagonist as Katie and I have to play something that isn’t my character. I don’t think the audience likes me because of how she’s been cast so I think I’m doing a good job,” she says.
She says she was a little intimidated at the beginning because everyone in the cast is concentrated on bringing their A-game. She feels like she always needs to be better.
Although music was always what she pictured herself doing, acting was actually her first big break, which would eventually lead to Tattuu’s formation. Between 1999 and 2000, after she had just finished high school, Shinde auditioned to be in the musical “Cinderella” with Phoenix Players. She had always watched plays at Phoenix Theatre from when she was about 12 years old.
Her uncle was also an actor there. She loved the pomp and extravaganza that would go into performances in the institution that was then ran by the late James Falkland. She knew at some point she would join the troupe. Though she had never acted before, she amazingly got the main role.
“It was an eye-opener for me because I had never thought of acting as something I could do.”