You would think that after going through one unsuccessful marriage and a number of tumultuous romantic relationships, some of which ended in ugly public spats, former news anchor Betty Kyallo would settle for a quiet life free of drama.
But if you have watched her new reality show, Kyallo Kulture, which also features her sisters Mercy and Gloria Kyallo, you would agree that she plans to continue living her life loudly and publicly.
The drama started early in Betty’s life – from the age of 22, as a budding journalist ready to conquer the world.
And conquer it she did.
“I think I’ve gone through it all, to the point that my skin is extremely tough. Starting to anchor news as a young woman of 22 wasn’t easy. (There was) constant criticism and sometimes it was extremely harsh. Therefore, over the years, I learnt how to ignore social media trolls. I don't care what they say. I actually never read anything negative about myself.
“So for the show, it’s really another day in my life. I’m keen about my sisters though. I am very present when they feel they have been attacked. But I believe we will be fine,” Betty says.
Well documented online
Her life is well documented online. She and the father of her daughter got a divorce months after their lavish wedding. She then dated a number of local celebrities including lawyer Nick Ndeda, actor Lenana Karibe and politician ‘Somali Bae’ Alinur Mohammed.
“My fans have really been in tune with my life and life events for 12 years now. What a period it has been. What I am sure of is that my fans and the public have grown with me and are not getting over my brand just yet,” says Betty.
Her past experiences will not stop her from living her life, she says. Some of the things that will be revealed on the show will be personal and emotional.
“They have followed me since I started out in the media as a young girl, just 22, going through relationships and heartbreak, being a mum, starting businesses, some that failed and many that are blossoming. I’m relatable in many ways with many young women and society in general. I know my place and the part my brand plays in this country ...
“It has been a journey and I’m sure their interest is far from over. Actually, I know the inspiration my brand brings forth is ever growing. I’m growing with them and there’s a lot with regard to my next phases in life,” she says.
As is the norm in most reality series, Kyallo Kulture is majorly based on the cast’s experiences.
“Filming the show has really revealed a lot of things that I've gone through in the past and didn’t deal with wholesomely. I’ve had to really revisit my emotions and think about a lot of my life events.
“Talking about the toughest shoot, for me, it was talking extensively about my daughter’s sickness. It was the toughest episode to shoot. I cried. And I realised I might actually need therapy because I don’t talk about it often or deal with the raw emotions,” Betty says.
In 2019, Betty’s daughter, Ivanna, went into a coma and was admitted to the ICU at Nairobi Hospital for a month as specialists tried to figure out what was wrong with her.
Mercy explains how during shooting for one of the episodes, she had to share about a near-death experience she had when she was younger. She revealed how she almost lost her life while undergoing IVF treatment to help a childless couple.
“Revisiting childhood memories sometimes is pleasant but some sad memories can leave you feeling emotionally drained. You realise that you need to confront parts of your past that were buried deep in the subconscious. There are no set boundaries as to what goes on record. I decide as I go. I have chosen to share my life experiences as authentically as possible with the world. My life is now an open book,” Mercy says.
Gloria, the younger of the two sisters, says growing up in the limelight, thanks to Betty and Mercy, has not been easy for her.
“Having been brought into the limelight really early, I always had to act responsible, always had to be conscious about what I put out,” Gloria says.
She admits that the idea of filming a reality show scared her.
“The thought of having thousands or even millions of people watching me and judging me and creating perceptions really freaked me out. I have had to showcase my relationships publicly and that’s scary as hell. I had prepared myself psychologically that I’ll be subject to public criticism but that’s not something you can truly be ready for,” she says.
But now, she explains, she has an amazing opportunity to show the world who Gloria is, her amazing personality, how she sees the world and who she hopes to become.