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She’s undoubtedly the best female TV news anchor in Kenya right now. Julie Gichuru has earned great admiration among both the young and old not only for her beauty but also for her enchanting personality. She recently talked to Carol Odero of Drum Magazine about her career, success, criticism, motherhood and her new agenda for Kenya’s youth. Take a look;
#2 Her show “Sunday Live” was initially meant to be like Oprah’sWhen she first landed at Citizen TV from NTV she was willing to take up investigative journalism. However, Wachira Waruru, the Managing Director at Royal Media Services, asked her to first settle down. It took Julie only three months to conceptualize “Sunday Live”. “Initially, it started out as an Oprah concept but a lot of people saw an element of seriousness in what I do and we did not want to lose that.With that the concept evolved,” said Julie.
#3 Julie is a UNICEF AmbassadorShe is working with UNICEF on a Baby Banda campaign, teaching women about breastfeeding. “I remember breastfeeding my two babies once in a doctor’s waiting room with women looking at me oddly before asking the doctor if that was normal! My mother kept asking me why I was still breastfeeding my son Kimoshe at four. I had to remind her that it was my baby and it was my house”, divulged Julie. UNICEF simply called her out of the blue.
Apart from that, she’s also a fellow and trustee member of the African Leadership Initiative, part of the Young Global Leaders, under the World Economic Forum, and has won a Salute to Greatness Award from the Martin Luther King Foundation in 2008. Aspen Global Leadership Network and African Global Leadership made a bid for her participation and now she flies around the world, taking part.
#4 She is an actively involved mother of four and a wife with a parallel and equally involving life in the limelight.
“I have so much more time for my children now but of course as a mother there are things that you wish you could do like a stay-at-home mum who is there all the time can. But you have to find balance,” said Julie.
Like every other mother, Julie barely has a minute to herself. “I do a facial at home once a week. I love relaxing in the tub. Sometimes I just send my kids away and tell them to give me half an hour to think and do my thing while they are reading or doing some other thing. The difficulty with doing that much preening is that the kids are young and if I spend time doing that then I feel I am taking it away from the kids,” revealed Julie.
Sunday also includes an editorial meeting, time with family and grooming for television. “I go to the salon right before “Sunday Live” and ask them to do everything in a flurry of 45 minutes,” she said adding, “I had started at the gym but stopped. I do yoga type stretches at home. When I eat junk I try to detox with fruits and vegetables.”
#5 Her father struggled to take her through University
Contrary to the public belief that she comes from a well-off family and that she should not be struggling so much. “Where do people get that impression from? I think you are talking about my father in law. It is important for young people not to expect their parents to provide for them. My father was in the army, and his Asian family settled in Kenya. The army was nothing to complain about, but sending me to university was something of a struggle. Not an easy thing to do on a secretary’s salary either for my mum. The heaviest investment my parents ever made was in their children,” revealed Julie.
#6 She’s a go-getter who is not afraid to float her ideas to her bosses
One may think that since she’s Royal Media’s Digital Manager and senior TV anchor she has achieved everything. However to Julie she still wants to broaden her horizons. “I want to do a lot of programming and executive producing so there is going to be a lot of convincing”, said Julie. She revealed that she shares her ideas with her bosses as well as to debate, urge, argue and push them.
The number of television shows Julie has done is phenomenal. “My first live talk show was Capital Openline on Capital FM 2001.I hosted Ndura Waruinge the head of Mungiki at that time, who had a warrant out for his arrest. It was an explosive show and at the end Phil Matthews burst into the studio and said, “This is your niche Julie! You were born to do this!”
At KTN there was ‘Business as Usual’, ‘The Inside Story’ which was Kenya’s first investigative documentary, and ‘The Third Opinion’ after Kathleen Openda left.
On NTV she created and produced the popular political debate program ‘Showdown’ hosted in the first season by Mutula Kilonzo and Mirugi Kariuki, and in the second season by Kilemi Mwiria and Billow Kerrow. She also created, produced and hosted ‘The Fourth Estate’, ‘On the Spot’, ‘The People’s Voice’, ‘Voices of Reason’, and produced and hosted ‘You the Jury’.
Then she moved to Citizen TV where she is now on ‘Sunday Live with Julie Gichuru’, ‘Fist to Five for Change’, ‘Eye on Katiba’ and ’Great Debaters Contest’.
However, her attempt to run a magazine failed terribly as she ended up with a lot of debt and spent three years trying to pay them off.” And most recently, she decided to venture into fashion business (MIMI) with her husband, Anthony.
With a wife as beautiful as Julie it is expected that any man would be the most insecure, not so for Anthony Gichuru. I am so thankful for my husband. If, for instance, I do not notice someone waving, he will tell me, ‘Julie, wave to that person over there. Now turn to your right and wave to the others over there. He manages it (her public persona) well and is very confident in himself. If I did not have that kind of support, I don’t think I would be able to do my job the way I do. I would be pulling my hair out on a daily basis. I go home and ask him how the show was. If he says ‘not good’ I think, bummer. If he says ‘it was great,’ I think, great.
When we meet people in Nakumatt, Westgate or Kikopey, I take photos with people and I leave him with the kids. He is really patient. That is really great.” So, no stalkers then? “None. When I get a gift, it says Julie Gichuru and family. It’s clear. There is no room for any misunderstanding so I do not have to deal with that. I am such a mathee!”
#9 Julie dresses to inspire young people
Her Sunday Live attire is designed to bring in younger viewers who think news is a dull, boring adult affair. Also, Julie says that, “Kenyans idolize politicians so guess what I’m going to wear sweet skirts, skinny trousers and girlie dresses. I will play with it so that you have something else to talk about that is different and so that Kenyans can stop focusing on politicians. It is a whole mind shift right in line with my ideas for the new generation. I want to work with young people.
“The funniest thing to do is watch TV with my kids. I love cartoons and I introduced them to Star Wars and they show me the latest animations. For me it is all about the warmth and love that is created. I keep thinking soon enough I will be alone with my hubby. I try to guard my family and it is important to me that they are protected at all times,” revealed Julie.