Christine Wawira has lost count of the number of celebrities she has met and hanged out with. From Angelina Jolie, Oprah, Brad Pitt, Viola Davies, Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, her list is endless. Her life, at least from what is seen on social media, is what many people dream of.
The Kenyan actress living in USA socializes freely with the who-is-who in Hollywood and has even been in some of the scenes in the popular series Modern Family.
Most often, when people ask her how she got there, she laughs and says it has been a journey of falling and rising, and believing in herself when people around her told her she is shooting too high.
Wawira was born in Kenya and her family relocated to London when she was seven. Five years later, they won a green card lottery on the first try and relocated to America. They settled in Georgia.
“The shooting at columbine high school had just occurred and my friends were worried that we were going to America, a place where children are murdered in school. Little did we know that school shootings would become a common thing,” she says.
Her first struggle came when she was admitted to school. Her strong British accent made her stand out, and she hated it!
“The African American kids told me I sounded white and made fun of me. It was the Caucasian kids that were fascinated by me. I wanted to sound American so I studied TV shows and just listened to people talk. I got my friends to help me sound more American,” she says.
Aside from fighting to conceal her accent, she says it is America where she learnt that she had to position herself in the right places if she wanted to be noticed. She realized that everyone was engrossed in becoming what they dreamed of, that if she did not push herself, she would stagnate and kill her dreams of becoming a renowned actress.
Her debut into theater was in London. She was 8, cast to play the role of milkmaid in the Oliver Twist classic play. She made her second try in America aged 14 while in high school and instantly fell in love.
“I was in the Tricks Of Scapin (An American classic). I had no lines. I was only on stage for a few minutes. We took the play to state competition and we won!” she says.
From there, she took up several acting gigs. She says she loved being on stage. She was fascinated by her ability to memorize heaps of dialogue and move crowds by her well delivered scripts.
“I have really bad vision so in order to be more comfortable in front of an audience, I used to take off my glasses so I couldn’t see the crowd,” she says.
After high school she got into camera acting. She started off with student films and independent films to get experience and build her reel and resume before going for the big screens.
A few years later, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and modeling full time. It is there that she started meeting experienced people and celebrities who continue to nudge her towards the direction of her dreams.
“I got to meet and work with so many people that inspire me. They are people I used to dream of meeting, but never thought the day would come where we share the same space. I am still chasing my dreams and I’ll never stop. I know my time is coming!” she says, convinced that she is the next big thing on silver screens.
Wawira believes diaspora provides a platform for people who are passionate to pursue their dreams. Unlike home where talented people are often ignored and the push is on academic papers, diaspora, she says, gives room for people to explore art and earn a living from it.
She pauses when she talks about the lows of diaspora, especially for someone pursuing a life that thrusts them to publicity. She battled depression while in high school and was suicidal.
“I self- harmed for five years and hated myself. I still have scars to this day,” she says.
At 21, she made what looked like the greatest mistake at the time. She got pregnant with a man she had just met and contemplated having an abortion.
“I changed my mind hours before the abortion, and my daughter is now eight. She is the best thing that happened to me,” she says.
She lived in a homeless shelter when she was 4 months pregnant after getting into a fight with her parents and looking back, she says she felt so scared and alone.
“As much as people think I have a dream life, it has come at a cost. There is a lot of pain, sadness, heartbreak and rejection behind the scenes of Christine Wawira’s life. But I’ve turned it all into a positive experience because we must always learn how to dance in the rain,” she says.
Other than acting, Wawira is a hypnotherapist. (A type of complementary and alternative medicine in which the mind is used to help with a variety of problems, such as breaking bad habits or coping with stress). She developed the interest after having a pain free water birth with her youngest child using hypnotherapy.
“I have decided to become a certified hypnotherapist so I can help other women have a comfortable and pain free time during birth. Hypnotherapy helps rewire and reprogram the mind to not accept pain and helps women achieve a comfortable time during birth,” she says.
Her family is in Arizona, and even though she spends a lot of time in L.A, she has recently started shortening her stay in acting scenes and spending more time with her children.
Her advice to anyone planning to relocate to diaspora is that they should be ready to work.
“Life here is all about going to work to pay the bills. That’s literally it. We slave our entire lives working for someone else. We have to worry about things like mass shootings, and racial injustice,” she says.
Even though she was in Kenya for a short time of her childhood, she says she misses home. She last visited in 2004 when she was sixteen, but plans to relocate back home in future.