That Chic Maselinah


Rejection is a redirection to something else. I think that was said by Reese Witherspoon, an A-list actor in Hollywood for those who don’t know her. But as much as rejection is a redirection, it is one painful experience. Most of the famous people you know have gone through rejection a couple of times or a hundred times. Rejection is a bitch and I say this from experience, trust me, I know the pain first hand, but I am not here to talk about me, I am here to tell a story of four beautiful strong young women who know rejection well and also know what it means to be redirected.

I met Stacey, Akinyi, Caroline and Michelle at an audition for a TV show. A friend of mine had asked me to help out as one of the judges but I got bored and walked out to observe the actors as they prepared for their auditions. That is how I saw and heard them. They were three young ladies sitting next to each other close to the door heading to the audition room. They looked like fraternal triplets but when I got closer, I realized they were different ladies from different worlds only auditioning for the same role. Because they were competing for the same thing, you would expect them to be indifferent towards each other, instead, they were holding each other’s hand. Another young woman emerged from the audition room, a copy of the group. They looked at her expectantly.

“How did it go?” one of them asked in a semi whispered tone. A slender young woman with a very black baby afro, like she had died it, that matched her skin.

“I think it went well, I could tell I had impressed them from their faces,” the one who had just arrived answered, but before she could say more, one of the three was called in. The one who had just arrived replaced the one leaving and joined the rest in holding hands. They didn’t speak until the lady who had gone in came back after four minutes. The same ritual was repeated. I watched them, fascinated. That is when I decided to approach them and have a chat. I mean, we are all about female friendship and working together, but let’s be real. It is rare to see young women supporting each other while fighting for the same position. I had to talk to them.

Since they had seen me in the panel earlier, it was easier for me to interact with them. Just when the chat was becoming interesting, my friend called me back to the panel so we agreed on a date to continue with the chat. Unfortunately, they did not pass the auditions, but I was still eager to meet them.

A week later, I called Michelle, the one with a baby afro. I asked her if we could meet that Saturday. She told me the other three had gone for a workshop in Nakuru and won’t be available for two weeks. She had stayed behind because she had a commercial to shoot, which meant that I could only meet her. It was fine by me.


Most of my Saturdays are spent on the road. A trip to Nanyuki, a trip to Naivasha, a trip to coast. This Saturday, my trip is a local one yet so far. I sit in the dusty traffic jam, the worst in Nairobi. Mombasa Road. When is this construction going to finish? My God!!

I am heading to Kitengela. That is where Michelle lives. And because she hates coming to Nairobi town, I agreed to meet her in her town. I look at my watch, it is fifteen minutes after two. We had agreed to meet at 2pm but I am still stuck in traffic. The only good thing is I am 10 minutes away.

The new Kitengela Capital Centre stands majestically in the middle of the fast-growing dusty town with shouting signboards of Agha Khan, National bank, KCA University and a few other corporate companies. Next to it, is a small restaurant where I am meeting Michelle. I walk in to see Michelle sitting next to a window, furiously typing on her android phone. She doesn’t see me as I walk towards her.

“I am so sorry for keeping you waiting, I didn’t know the traffic will be this crazy,” I apologize while making myself comfortable on the seat next to her. It’s a medium chair with sharp pointy four legs. The seating part of the chair is padded and covered with those clear plastic materials that look like lamination. A small round table stands between us, black and aged, it gives me an image of an aged kalenjin woman who has brought up eight children, forty-three grandkids and thirty-seven great grandkids and now her back is tired of tilling the land. The slight difference is that this table between us and the others round the small restaurant, have been painted colorless recently. I can tell from their shinny surface that covers the tiny cigarette marks, tea and soup marks and even dents.

“Have you ordered something?” I ask as I pick the menu which, just like the seat I am sitting on has been laminated, “I am starving.”

“No, I haven’t ordered yet, but we can do now, let me get the waiter,” she turns to look for a waiter.

“What do you recommend?”

“I am not a fun of goat meat, but you should try it, everyone who comes this sides always gets a tray of grilled or dry fried goat meat with ugali and kachumbari on the side.”

“Then I will have that,” I sit and do my best to hide the major swallow from my immediately watery mouth.

The waiter arrives. A skinny young man in black khaki pants, a white shirt and a black waist apron. Michelle explains my order and asks for a plate of fries with chicken. I am so hungry that I am about to shout I want a plate of that too, but I control myself.

The waiter disappears and I turn to Michelle.

“Tell me about your three friends, do you all live in Kitengela?”

“Yes, we do, Stacey and I are roommates, Akinyi lives with her mum while Caroline just moved out, so she lives alone.”

Michelle is a twenty-six-year-old beautiful woman with a black velvetish glowing skin, you would think she only drinks water and swims in a pool of shea butter.  Pure white well-arranged teeth like she has used braces except for two hugging upper incisors. I keep looking at her when she smiles and wonder why I have not seen her face on a toothpaste commercial yet. Very bubbly and happy she give one would conclude she doesn’t know the word rejection, except she knows it more than most people her age do.

Michelle went to university to study Film production but she fell in love with being in front of the camera than behind it. She started going to auditions while in third year. You could say, it was the right time for her to start experiencing rejection. And man, did she got served in large doses. Rejection after rejection. She gave up when she started her fourth year and concentrated on her studies. After graduating she did a little bit of production management but she wasn’t feeling it so went back to auditions.

“I finally got a small minor role in a TV commercial, I have never been that happy and excited,” she tells me. Our food has arrived. Michelle did not lie when she said goat meat is a good choice. I don’t know what they have done to it but this food is delicious. I am tempted to tell Michelle we stop talking so I can enjoy the food, but we don’t have all day. She has to go home prepare for tomorrow where she has a TV commercial to shoot and she needs her beauty sleep.

After her beau in the industry, it got back to more rejection. Then something else happened during one of her auditions.

“I had gone to this audition where they were looking for four young women to act as best friends for an upcoming reality show. The physical features they were looking for mirrored mine so I took a shot. When I arrived there, there were like twenty other ladies who looked like me, some even dressed like me. It was crazy, but that is how auditions are, you do your best to be as close to the character as possible.”

When her moment to audition came, she was paired with three other ladies. They were given their lines to read and asked to perform it.

Four days later, a text came in. The audition had not been successful.

“I felt so bad, I cried all night,” she says while biting a strip of fries, “I thought I had given it my best.”

After two weeks, she went to another audition. This one was a TV drama show. She was auditioning for a role of a bubbly freshman.

“So I reach there and I see a few ladies who have same physic as me, I do not pay attention to that until I see Stacey. She was sitting alone under a tree going through her script and I decided I had to say hi. As I was walking towards her, I bumped into Caroline who was as surprised to see me as I was her. We say hi to each other and I point a finger towards Stacie. We walk towards Stacy.”

“Hey, you guys are here too?” she said before we reached her.

“Yes we are here, I just bumped into Caroline coming towards you,” I said to her.

“Hi Stacey,” Caroline said.

Turns out, we were all auditioning for the same role so we decided to rehearse together.

Unfortunately, the audition was not successful again, but this time round, she had two friends to call who understood her pain since they both had not passed the audition. They encouraged each other and wished each other success in the coming one.

After two months of unsuccessful auditions, Michelle bumped into her two new friends on another one. This time they were going for different characters. As they sat together rehearsing their lines and helping each other, Akinyi appeared.

“Hi,” she said to us, very shyly. It is so funny to imagine Akinyi was ever shy, because she is the most confident and outgoing more than the three of us.

Akinyi asked if she could join them. When they agreed, the four women team was created. It became a lucky day for them because Caroline got her role and things started looking up for them.

“How did you all end up living in this town?” I ask.

“Before we met, I was living alone here. I moved here after graduating from Kenyatta University, and getting production gigs from this side of Nairobi. When I met my friends, Stacey had just graduated and didn’t want to go back home to her parents in Nakuru, she was living alone on Thika road. When she told me how she was struggling with her bills, I asked her to move in with me. Akinyi lives with her parents here in Kitengela, while Caroline just moved here from Machakos.”

“What is the best thing about your friendship?”

“Nothing feels better like having a friend who totally understands your pain. You need a thick skin to be an entertainer, but most importantly you need a support system. That is what we are to each other because we go through rejections like no one’s business, but when you have someone to hold you and encourage you with the right words, it becomes easier.”

“Do you always go to the same auditions?”

“Not really, we go to different ones, but once in a while we go to the same one. Akinyi is the manager of this group because she has a bigger network than us, so most of the time she knows where all the auditions are happening.”

“Do you ever disagree or fight each other?”

“Yes, we do have disagreements here and there but we solve them and move on.”

“Can you give me an incident of one of your fights?”

Michelle pauses and smiles at me. For a moment, I can tell she is not sure if she is allowed to give me the whole story. I wait.

“Okay, there was this guy I met at an audition, he is a producer. We started talking and went on to a few dates. One day, the four of us were hanging out at our place, Stacey and mine. We were watching a movie but not watching it fully as we were busy talking and bantering. Akinyi was not paying attention because she was busy on her phone, then she started smiling. You know that stupid smile you have that everyone can tell you are chatting with a guy? Yes she had that stupid face. Caroline snatched her phone and said ‘we have to see this new guy who is taking you from me’ Akinyi tried to take her phone away but Caroline was fast.”

“I am not interested in your conversation, I just want to see his face,” she said as she taped on the phone.

Akinyi relaxed a bit. Caroline opened the photo looked at it well and turned the screen towards Stacey and I. The face looked very familiar so I took the phone from Caroline and looked at the photo. It was my producer.

“How do you know this guy?” I turned to Akinyi.

“We met a few weeks ago and we have been seeing each other, but I didn’t want to tell you guys before it was serious,”

Even though Michelle was hurt, she didn’t tell her friends that she had also been seeing this guy. Two weeks later and all came crumbling down when Akinyi got the information. They had a major fight and didn’t speak to each other for two months. Caroline was the one who brought them back together after opening their eyes to see the guy was the one playing them.

“It was stupid I know but I had come to really like the guy. Anyway, something better came out of the experience. We look after each other so much that when one meets a guy, everyone else would be stalking them to make sure there is no foul play. We also tell each other the truth when it comes to the guys we chose, actually every decision we make has to be approved by all of us.”

I want to ask her if they have biological sisters, because I am very curious as to how their relationship with their sister is compared to this one, but then the waiter comes carrying a tray of hot white hand towels. He hands them to us before replacing the towels on the tray with the plates. He then takes our towel and walks away, by that time, I have totally forgotten what I wanted to ask.

“You know I have two sisters, but I am not as close to them as I am to my three friends, I think it is because they are both married with kids,” she says and I can’t help but smile because it is like she had totally read my mind.

“What about the others? Do they have sister?”

“Stacey has a younger sister in primary school. I think she is in class six and a brother in form two. She loves her sister so much she is always calling home to know how school is going, but you know the relationship is not similar to what she has with us because her sister is still a baby. Akinyi is an only child, while Caroline has two brothers, all in University.”

“This has been amazing Michelle, thank you for your time. I wish I had a strong circle of friends like yours. But for now, I wish you all the best in your acting career and may you ladies grow to receive Oscars,” I can’t help but feel so proud of these young ladies.

“Thank you so much, and may you live to tell more stories.”

“Thank you.”

As I sit in the traffic heading back home, all I can think of is the delicious mbuzi fry I just had.

7,305 thoughts on “Redirection”

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