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Mumbi Maina: How Mali Actress Rose From Earning Ksh500 To An International Star

Mumbi Maina (born on 14 January 1985) is a successful actress who has not only graced the Kenyan screens but has also made it to Hollywood. She became famous after her role in Kenya’s successful production, Mali. Today, she has been casted in numerous local and international productions.

Here is her story as told by WoK.

A love for dance

Growing up, she admired Mariah Carey and wanted to be a star like her but had no idea on how she would reach that destination.

Chasing after her dreams, the actress ended up being a dancer and choreographer at ICC Mombasa road. Her sister who had done theatre was called to audition for a role and she tagged along with her.

One of the judges asked her to audition but she was not interested until her sister told her they weren’t leaving until she auditioned.

This is how she found herself featured as Riziki on a film released in 2008 called Unseen, Unsung and Forgotten.

The film heavily focused on HIV/AIDS and she worked alongside the likes of Nice Githinji. She was then nominated for the Best Supporting Actress role at the 2009 Kalasha Awards.

The actress still loved dancing and taught salsa and hip hop classes. Acting was something she still did not feel like doing. She would charge her clients Ksh500 per dance class.

Taking Acting Seriously

The 38-year-old started going for acting auditions but getting a role was not a walk in the park. She got a job as a receptionist as she waited. Unlike her first role, others did not come so easily.
This was a sign and soon after she found herself getting roles in both Mali and Shattered which also featured Rita Dominic. Both producers said they were going to do billboards for marketing and this was another sign for her.

Acting roles

The successful actress portrayed the role of Nandi Mali so well that she was nominated for the Kalasha awards.

Mali also achieved great success in Kenya. Nandi was a very controversial character and playing this role took a toll on her. It affected her mentally for about a year.

Then came her role on the film Nafsi, where she played Aisha, a woman who after struggling to conceive asks her friend Shiko to become her surrogate.

The role Shiko is played by Cate Actress. After a successful IVF, Aisha changes her mind about surrogacy leaving Shiko feeling used. The dancer said this role affected her to a point where she got nightmares about losing or killing a child.

Despite the difficulty, she got a role on Hollywood’s The Matrix Resurrection soon after Nafsi.

Other productions she has graced include:

Salem where she acted as Zara Mufasa
How to Find a Husband where she acted as Jackie
Jane and Abel as Cecilia
Sense8 as Zakia. This is an American film that follows the lives of eight people living in various cities around the world. As Zakia, she is a bisexual journalist in love with the main character. She received $1,000 every day she was on set in 2016.
Kati Kati as Jojo
Mumbi Maina currently plays Katherine in the Showmax Telenovela, Second Family. Here, she is the Chief Financial Officer of an East African Granary Company. She finds herself thrown in the mix of a power struggle following the death of the company’s founder.