For over two decades, Lucy Wangui graced the screens of Kenyan television, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of viewers as she portrayed the role of a no-nonsense magistrate in the iconic court drama, Vioja Mahakamani.
Born in Ziwani, Kariokor, Nairobi county, Lucy’s early aspirations did not include a career in acting. In the context of her upbringing, professions like nursing or secretarial work were deemed respectable, if not lucrative.
Lucy adhered to this conventional path, taking a secretarial course and securing a job at a bakery. The job provided a comfortable income, but her life was about to take an unexpected turn.
It was Mzee Pombe who introduced Lucy to the world of acting. Convincing her to audition, Lucy hesitated at first, having never considered acting as a viable career option.
To her surprise, she not only auditioned successfully but excelled in the field. This marked the beginning of her journey into the realm of entertainment.
The transition from a stable and well-paying job to the uncertain world of acting was not without its challenges. In the early 70s, Lucy found herself earning meager amounts, ranging from 20/= to 40/= per show.
The financial struggle was real, but her passion for acting kept her going. She recalled earning Sh 400 as a significant breakthrough, emphasizing the value of patience and perseverance in the industry.
Over the years, Lucy had the privilege of showcasing her talent at national events, performing in front of former Kenyan presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki.
Lucy attributes her success to the mentorship of Mzee Pombe and Made Tamaa, emphasizing the importance of humility and creativity. In an industry where success can breed arrogance, Lucy advocates for a grounded approach, acknowledging the guidance she received and the values that kept her at the summit of her career.
Her role in Vioja Mahakamani was a pivotal one. Lucy played the magistrate exceptionally well, making the character iconic and synonymous with the show itself.
The departure of the pioneer magistrate, Ann Wanjugu, presented Lucy with the challenge of stepping into her predecessor’s shoes.
Initially hesitant, Lucy eventually embraced the opportunity, showcasing her versatility and contributing to the continued success of the show.
However, after a long and successful run with KBC’s Vioja Mahakamani, Lucy, alongside other cast members, including Ondiek and Olexander Josephat (Peter Sankale), made the decision to quit the show.
The broadcaster’s plan to introduce new actors met with resistance from the existing cast, prompting them to leave. Lucy expressed her dissatisfaction with the lack of support from the Kenyan government and corporates for the acting industry, noting that this hindered the growth of the film sector in the country.
In her personal life, Lucy is a mother of three, and in an interview on KBC, she revealed that one of her children graduated from a UK university. Despite the challenges and resistance she faced in her career, Lucy continues to live a decent lifestyle, courtesy of her acting career.
In December 2019, Lucy Wangui received well-deserved recognition for her enduring contributions to the Kenyan acting scene. She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the sixth edition of the Sanaa Theatre Awards. This acknowledgment reflected not only her individual achievements but also her impact on the industry as a whole.