What you need to know:
- Working on any set, be it local and international, can feel extremely intimidating.
- One can argue that it’s more so on international projects because of being in new territory and the immense pressure that comes with that but, it all still boils down to one’s self-belief.
- You won’t always have the support you need. Not everyone will understand what you’re doing.
Mumbi Maina, an actor, has starred in local and international film projects since 2009. She is best known for her role as Zakia in Netflix's sci-fi show Sense8, and her upcoming role in the fourth Matrix installment, the Matrix Resurrections.
1. So, what formula did you use to get to The Matrix?
It has all been pretty surreal! I had no expectation of being cast in The Matrix Resurrections. However, when I learnt that there was going to be a Matrix 4, I was so excited for them! Knowing that such brilliant people were about to blow our minds again was exciting for me. I had an epiphany mid that year which I shared on social media that said, “What if the miracle you’re waiting for is waiting for you to think bigger?”
I then received the news from the producers that Lana wanted me for a specific role in “Project Ice Cream.” I was completely blown away. Only, it didn’t click for me that “Project Ice Cream” was in fact a code name for The Matrix 4. To be frank, I wouldn’t have cared what project it was, I was just so excited to be working with her again!
2. It isn’t easy for local actors to break into the world stage. What would you have wanted to know when you first started out?
First, that self-confidence is key. Working on any set, be it local and international, can feel extremely intimidating. One can argue that it’s more so on international projects because of being in new territory and the immense pressure that comes with that but, it all still boils down to one’s self-belief. You won’t always have the support you need. Not everyone will understand what you’re doing, but that can be a good thing because that’s when you have to really dig deep.
Second, is to stay open to learning. Use every audition and job you connect with as an opportunity to practice and expand your craft. I didn’t go to school for this. Most actors haven’t. I learnt on set and still continue to learn.
Lastly, allow yourself to have fun. It’s a wonderful thing to be blessed with a gift that positively impacts other people’s lives. Try not to get too caught up or distracted by the superficial pressures of this industry, or social media. Learn to enjoy and most importantly, honour your gift.
3. Is there anything that you wish was duplicated abroad that you find on the Kenyan scene?
Nothing comes to mind at this moment. We are definitely moving in the right direction despite the many obstacles. I admire our resilience and tenacity. I’m confident that things will continue to change for the better.
4. What do you do for fun? Is leisure and rest a compulsory part of life for you?
The answer is YES. I take my rest and leisure very seriously. This is something I struggled with in the beginning. I would be very hard on myself and I attached downtime with failure or laziness because of this idea that constantly being busy equates being successful or productive. I got over it because my mental and emotional health suffered in the long run. I’m grateful that we can now talk about the importance of good mental and emotional health. In the beginning of my career, I felt like I had no choice but to take on back-to-back projects, regardless of the effect it was having on me. Now, I am so grateful that I am creating a life that gives me some room to breathe.
I love travelling, and my favourite destination is the Kenyan coast. I find the ocean very soothing to my spirit. I also enjoy staying home and spending time with people who I care about, who enrich my mind, improve my quality of life, and leave me feeling fulfilled.
5. What will you be working on next?
I can’t divulge much except for one. An amazing film called Nafsi. This is especially exciting for me because it’s my comeback to the local film industry after a long time. I had the honour of working with an amazing cast and crew! It’ll be out in November this year.