Alex Mwakideu is best known as one of Kenya’s most popular radio presenters. For years he has been one of the most sought-after, and highest-paid, voices on radio with stints at Baraka FM, Radio Maisha and Milele FM.
In 2021, however, Mwakideu is finding success in an entirely different lane – acting. It’s his newest side-hustle as Mwakideu is also behind Pampered Rides, a car-wash, car detailing and accessories business he started in 2020 soon after the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
“When the pandemic hit our salaries were slashed by half. When your family is used to a certain lifestyle and your salary is slashed by half, you need to figure it out. So that’s why I started the car detailing business,”
he told Cheptoek Boyo in an interview.
Mwakideu then took his talents to the big screen with a starring role in one of the biggest Kenyan movies of the year so far, Nafsi, in which he plays the husband of Catherine ‘Cate Actress’ Kamau. To land the role on Nafsi, he had to twice go through painstaking auditions after approaching director Reuben Odanga multiple times looking for a role in any of his film productions.
The film with an all-star cast premiered in Nairobi on November 6 and in Mwakideu’s hometown of Mombasa on November 19th. It was met with rave reviews and continues to draw audiences. Mwakideu described it as ‘a dream’ to star in the film alongside acclaimed actors such as Kamau and Mumbi Maina.
“I was a fan (of Cate and other veteran actors)…it was quite an awesome experience launching this movie thing with some of the greatest in the country,”
Mwakideu is keen on taking part in more TV and film productions stating that he has always been passionate about acting since his high school days.
According to Mwakideu, he then spent sleepless nights going through the Nafsi script. He engaged an actress friend to help him out. At home his wife took the role of Cate Actress as Mwakideu rehearsed his lines. The production company also signed him up for acting classes to refine his skills.
“I have never done movies all my life so I really panicked. Cate Actress was playing my girlfriend so I really had to practice. I would go to a friend of mine called Wakio, a very good actress, and she took me through the scripts slowly telling me to learn how to read the script the way it’s been written…She told me this is not the theater, this is a movie so it needs to be real,”
Unknown to many, it is acting that got Mwakideu his first radio job at Baraka FM. After finishing high school, he joined a group of actors known as Angaza Thespians.
They performed plays on various stages in Mombasa and Nairobi. One day, they were hired to record voice-overs in a skit for a commercial client at Baraka FM and Mwakideu’s voice caught the News Editor’s ear.
The director urged him to try his hand at reading the news and, eventually, Mwakideu was offered a job. The presenter revealed that while he was passionate about acting, he chose to focus on radio to secure a steady, lucrative income. The rest, as they say, is history.
He quickly endeared himself to audiences listening to radio with his unique voice and storytelling. Mwakideu states that the highlight for him in his career was receiving a mouth-watering financial offer to join Milele FM.
“When I got this call to join Milele I was given an offer I could not resist. That was the highlight. I felt good, I felt appreciated,”
the presenter disclosed.