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“A Spoilt Rich Boy with No Voice” – Lenana Kariba on Playing Reagan on Selina Telenovela

Article by Jennifer Ochieng
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Posted: October 04, 2019  

Once upon a time, Lenana Kariba had a thriving signature afro that won many hearts on screen, from How to Find a Husband to News Just In to House of Lungula. When you watch him playing the role of Reagan Mackenzie in the Swahili telenovela Selina, you will spot Lenana in a nice clean fade, a transition that was necessary for this role.

But this is not a post about Lenana’s hair, and it’s not all we discuss when we sit down for an interview on the set of Selina.

Lenana Kariba plays the eldest son of the Mackenzies – Reagan Mackenzie who is a “spoilt rich boy” as Lenana describes him. Reagan is also a man of very few words. In fact, he hardly ever speaks, he’s always in the background and everything around him, from scheming to take down his younger brother Nelson (Pascal Tokodi) to any decision on his marriage, is controlled by his wife Zoe (Mbeki Mwalimu). It helps that Lenana is a character who stands out even in his most obscure scenes, if not we wouldn’t notice him at all.

“He (Reagan) tries to be a man but he finds it very difficult because he is living in the shadow of his wife who’s very controlling. He tries to fight that it doesn’t work out very well for him,” Lenana says.

Not many actors have had to do what Lenana did – he was cast in Selina in season 3 to replace Kone Nouhoum (may his soul continue to rest in peace) in the role of Reagan, big shoes to fill for any actor in Kenya but he eased into the role with the help of Mbeki, his controlling onscreen wife.

“She knew that me coming in to play this part as someone who already did it, she wasn’t trying to bring the Reagan out that Kone was. She was like, ‘I want to see what you are going to do and we are going to play off that, and I’m going to work with what you have to give me.’ Working with her has been very easy.”

Like Pascal Tokodi has confessed in a previous interview, Lenana also struggled with having to speak fluent Swahili on the show, a challenge that has really helped him grow as an actor.

“Anyone who’s watching this right now who knows me knows that I struggle with Swahili…and it’s funny because even the people who speak Swahili on Selina really struggle with it. You should see us on set…it’s really difficult. The script comes to us in Swahili and even the way it’s written is not really the way Kenyans speak.”

In the interview, Lenana also shares more about Reagan’s strained relationship with his brother Nelson, describing him as “the Simba of everything that’s happening.”

Watch Reagan finally learn to stand up for himself and question his wife for some dark secrets she’s been hiding from him in new episodes of Selina S4.

Selina S1-4 is streaming on Showmax.

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