The Kenyan acting industry is experiencing promising gradual growth, and one of the key indicators is Netflix penetration.
Some of the top female talent-making waves in the industry include Kate Actress, Brenda Wairimu, Nini Wacera, Celestine Gachuhi, and Sheila Munyiva.
Sheila was shot into the limelight after acting in the controversial Rafiki film by the renowned Kenyan film producer Wanuri Kahiu.
The film sparked controversy in the country because the storyline featured lesbian lovers.
Sheila is a remarkable actress who executes her film roles passionately and has good looks to go with it.
Besides acting, the 30-year-old actress, who describes herself as versatile, fun, and fierce, also doubles as a screenwriter and director.
Just like other celebrities, Sheila’s personal and acting life attracts the attention of curious fans who would like to know details like her love life, which college or university she attended, her siblings, her age, and so forth.
If you would love to know more about Sheila, this bio shares information on different aspects of her life, so read on and know her better.
Here is a profile summary to get you started:
|Date of Birth
|27 March 1993
|Actress, Film Writer, Director
Sheila was born and raised in Nairobi. There isn’t much information regarding her siblings or if she has any.
She revealed in an interview that she visited the UK a lot when she was younger because her late mother lived there.
Sadly, her mother passed away, leaving her under the care of her grandmother, who taught her to own her voice.
Hannah told SBS Pride in a 2018 interview that she watched Hannah Montana during her younger days which made her think that for a woman to have a successful acting career, she needed fairer skin and straight hair.
However, she is glad there is more representation of women of color on the screen, unlike during her younger days.
The little details touching on Sheila’s education haven’t mentioned the name of the primary and secondary schools she attended in Kenya.
She pursued a TV career to become a news anchor, but along the way, she changed her course and focused on Film production.
Sheila took classes on scriptwriting to sharpen her skills.
Sheila’s favourite actress is Meryl Streep.
She bagged her most prominent acting role in Rafiki in 2018.
Sheila opened up about feeling hesitant to take up the role. It took encouragement from Nini Wacera, the film’s casting director, to change her mind.
Nini requested her to go through the script, and when she did, Sheila was blown away by the storyline and decided to give it a shot.
Sheila acted alongside Samantha as each other’s love interest.
Besides Rafiki, Sheila has acted in other films like The Country Queen in 2022, where her role was that of medical personnel called Anna, appearing in six episodes. Country Queen is a Netflix-produced film.
In 2019, Sheila took an interesting acting direction, a Kenya National Theatre performance role as Sarafina.
Brenda Wairimu previously played the role, so it was an honour for Sheila to fill the shoes of an experienced actress.
Talking about her Sarafina role in a past interview, Sheila revealed that she would like to carry more significant acting roles, such as a young Wangari Maathai or Winnie Mandela.
Sheila’s latest film venture is Disney’s Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, an animation collection of African short films set to premiere later this year.
Aside from acting, Sheila volunteers in mentorship and charity programs in Kibera-based schools, participating in pads initiatives and other charity-based activities.
Sheila has also directed several TV commercials for NTV and produced a children’s TV show for Zuku.
Sheila and her co-actor Samantha Mugatsia, alongside their Rafiki producer Wanuri Kahiu, found themselves in a wave of controversy following the release of the homosexual-themed film.
The controversy was bound to happen given that Kenya is a conservative country whose stand on LGBTQ affairs remains shunned from political and religious points of view.
The film was banned in the country by former Film Classification Board Chairman, Ezekiel Mutua, due to lesbian scenes.
The irony of the ban was that Ezekiel had earlier praised Wanuri Kahiu’s production skills and supported the film before its release.
Wanuri was surprised about the ban because she thought they had the KFCB’s backing.
Ms Kahiu also revealed that the board was aware of the film’s intimate scenes but asked her to change the ending.
Wanuri refused to make the recommended changes, which must have triggered KFCB to effect the ban despite the film’s global success and winning historic debut at the Cannes Film Festival.
In several interviews following Rafiki’s release, Sheila expressed that Kenya’s stand on homosexuality instilled fear in her to the extent of not accepting the role.
She feared that her young acting career would suffer a setback and that she would be imprisoned for participating in such a film.
Sheila, however, gave in later after reading the script and realizing that she would represent individuals who are afraid to express their true identity.
Following the ban, Kenyans criticized the move online and shared divergent opinions.
The KFCB heard Kenyans’ outcry and lifted the ban for one week to allow local screening, an effort to make Rafiki eligible for the Academy Awards.
The ban was reinstated after one week, and Wanuri’s efforts to have it lifted permanently by the High Court of Kenya didn’t bear any fruits.
In a 2020 ruling, the court upheld the ban, where Judge J.A Makau made it clear that it was not about violating freedom of expression as Wanuri argued, but a move to shield the society from moral decay.
Sheila was nominated in the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) for the Best Actress in A leading Role category in the Rafiki film.
She may have yet to collect any awards personally, but her acting prowess contributed to Rafiki winning Best Achievement in Editing and Best Film in an African Language in 2019’s AMAA.
Suppose you were eager to know who Sheila could be dating; sorry for the disappointment because she doesn’t share her love life on social media.
However, she is a mother of one, as seen in an Instagram post where she was celebrating May’s Mother’s Day.
Sheila has a lucrative acting career since few Kenyan actors can brag about featuring in Netflix and Disney-produced films.
While there isn’t a speculated figure to address her net worth, Sheila makes decent money from her acting, production, and commercial directing roles.