You want to meet Victoria Rubadiri, at least once in your lifetime. Watching her on TV working as a journalist and news anchor, Victoria is, in person, everything you imagine her to be: extremely articulate, confident, polite and straight-talking.
Victoria on TV, comes across as someone who knows what she wants out of life, and she does. She is very self-aware: she knows what works for her, what doesn’t, as well as how to work with her strengths, and how to accept her flaws.
For an in-depth conversation, Victoria and I met at the jaw-dropping Gem Suites in Riverside.
Over an immaculately-presented lunch at the suites’ Argenti Restaurant, Victoria talked to me about living and studying in the USA, surviving the tough times of being a teen-mum, relocating back to Kenya, hunting for a job, and finally finding her way into and through the relatively crowded, local media industry.
Victoria, who is very content in who she is as an individual, also talked to me about finding her self-worth, dealing with online haters, dating, and learning to unapologetically say, “No.”
Victoria started her journalistic work in Kenya at Capital FM, before moving to NTV, and later finding herself at Citizen TV, where she currently focuses on features to do with women on Saturday nights, as she anchors the news with Jeff Koinange, on Sunday nights.
Here’s more, on Victoria Rubadiri:
Thank you for making time for the interview Victoria.
(Smiles) No problem at all Yvonne. I was looking forward to this. This is such a beautiful location by the way.
Isn’t it? It’s so pristine, right?
Oh, my goodness, it’s beautiful, too beautiful. I never knew of it, but I’m happy I do now. It’s such a stunning, quiet, venue. I’m very impressed.
Great, let’s get into it, you studied Journalism in school, is that right?
(Nods) I did. I studied Broadcast Journalism.
Would you say, career-wise, that you’re currently living the dream?
(Smiling) I am. I truly am. And I’m very grateful to be able to have such career opportunities.
Congratulations on your move to Citizen TV.
Oh, thank you. (Smiles)
The move, was it planned? Had you always wanted to work for Citizen TV?
When I was first starting out in Kenya, I just wanted to work anywhere really. I really “tarmacked.”
Did you really? Like all the other journalism graduates who tarmac, and continue to tarmac, every year?
Yes. (Nods) I went from media house to media house dropping my CV and hoping for calls. The calls never came. Especially for TV, the doors just weren’t opening. It was tough.
Even for you?
Oh, yes, even for me, I tarmacked for months. I remember thinking at the time, “Just give me a chance, and I’ll prove to you what I can do. I just need a chance.”
And then Capital FM came calling…
Yeah, that’s where the first door opened. Finally. (Laughs)
I mean, look, I get that there are people who tarmac for years, I get it, and I’m incredibly grateful that I didn’t tarmac that long, this is also the reason I don’t take any of this for granted.
And now you’re working with Jeff Koinange at Citizen TV, look at that.
I know! Look at that!
And Jeff, my goodness, he’s been such a role model to me. He has incredible journalistic skills. His work has spoken for itself over the years, so for me to be able to now work with him is just so surreal. I couldn’t respect him any more. It’s such an honour.
Do you miss your colleagues at NTV?
Oh, for sure. I worked with such talented individuals at NTV. We were such a great team and did even greater work, they were like family to me, I miss them, a lot.
But seasons change, and sometimes we have to move on to other things. We had a great run though.
When it comes to TV, Kenya, in particular, tends to have a lot of news anchors, as opposed to journalists, do you recognise this?
I do, and you’re right. I think sometimes it’s just a matter of who looks decent enough on screen and who’s articulate, and this can, in many ways, be unfortunate.
This is another reason I’m incredibly grateful to be doing what I do. I recognise that it’s not every day, that you get to practice what you studied for. And for me to be able to do it? I’m thankful, so thankful!
So, with TV, is it usually a case of, “You either have it or you don’t?”
Most definitely. That’s exactly it. And I think that’s also the case for a lot of careers in the creative industry. Look at actors for example, there are people who study acting until Master’s level even, but they never land great roles.
And then there are some who never study it really, but are such great actors, and they get fantastic roles and shows. I think a lot of times, it comes down to one’s innate talent.
And, “connections,” as we say? Do connections play a role in determining how successful one would be in the media industry?
(Nods) A lot of times, they do. A huge part of success, especially here in Kenya, usually depends on your contacts and who you know.
But for me, it wasn’t about that at all. TV happened for me, because someone heard me on radio, they called me, told me I sounded really good, and gave me an opportunity.
The opportunities that have come my way have always been based on my skills, talent, and hard work, not on who I knew, because, oh my goodness, I didn’t know, “People.” Remember, this was all happening after I relocated back here from the US, so I didn’t have any, “special” contacts. I really didn’t.
Wow. Would that then, be the lesson therein, to trust one’s own path?
Yes. Absolutely! Trust your own career path and journey. That’s most definitely the take-away lesson. Don’t look at me, and say because I started at Capital FM, you’ll also relocate from abroad, start at Capital FM, go to NTV, and finally end up at Citizen. (Shakes head.) No, trust your own individual journey. It will take you where you need to go.
If we all had the same journey and took the very same steps to the top, we wouldn’t have any stories to tell. Your journey has to go a certain way for a reason, let it.
I think the media industry can also be very clique-based, but, with time, you can find your way in.
Speaking of clique-ism, what then, does one do, if being a part of cliques doesn’t come naturally to them, but they really want to break into the media industry?
(Nods) I get that, I really do. Because I was that person. Clique-ism doesn’t come naturally for a lot of introverts, and that includes me. So what I did, is I invested in my craft, I really invested in it and did everything I could to be the best I could at it.
And then eventually, someone recognised my craft, just one person, and that one person was enough. So my craft spoke for itself, and that’s how I found my in.
If networking, and clique-ism, and generally being around people exhausts you a lot of the time, invest in yourself, and in your craft, make sure you’re doing the very best you can with your skills, so that your work can eventually begin to speak for itself.
Where would you hope to be in the next five, or ten years, career-wise?
(Pauses) I hope I’ll be creating my own productions. These could even be in international spaces. I’d really appreciate that. I don’t think I’d solely want to be in employment 10 years from now. I think that would be a bit sad. (Laughs)
Well done on the Girlfriends Confidential Talk mentorship programme.
(Smiles) Thank you. Thank you so much. It started as a small thing, but it’s now grown into a forum that attracts such a huge audience.
The last one, at Village Market, had over 300 attendees I heard, is this correct?
It is. I think the numbers we got were about 450 people! And this was with barely any advertising. (Smiles again) I’m so thankful that we are able to reach to these many people and that we are, hopefully, able to impact their lives in a way or two.
Did you seek the project out?
No, I did not, actually. Village Market reached out to me, they’d seen my work on Victoria’s Lounge (her talk-show while at NTV), and they reached out, asking if I’d be willing to host something like this. That’s really how it happened. I didn’t seek the opportunity out.
And I think that’s the thing with authenticity, don’t try to be like someone else. Really, don’t. Just be yourself, and do your best work, eventually, if you stick with it long enough, the universe conspires to bring more opportunities your way, but it starts with staying true to yourself.
What would you consider to be one of the lowest, if not the lowest, moments of your life?
Hmm. Like a moment where I really struggled?
I think that would be when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was in the US, I was studying, and I was pregnant, calling it, “tough” would be a huge understatement. That was a really testing period for me. One like no other. (Shakes head).
And to get through it, I had to do a lot of soul-searching. That period forced me to draw a lot of strength from within, and I did.
It toughened you up, huh?
For sure! If I got through that, I believe I can get through anything. Like, I’m ready. (Laughs)
With fame, comes critics, and online trolls, so those, do they not faze you?
Trolls? Oh gosh, absolutely not. Keyboard warriors are the least of my worries. (Laughs)
Look, having a career in the limelight can be a lot to handle, but eventually you just get used to it. I mean, I’ve had blogs write a whole mess of things about me, and a lot times I just choose not to engage them.
If it’s a substantive matter, I’ll engage, reply, or address it. But a lot of times, I let it be and just move on with my life.
Because a lot of the blogs also often just create these stories for click-bait?
Exactly. It’s usually for click-bait, and traffic, and that kind of thing. They’ll just create a story and say you’re dating a politician so that people can click and visit their sites. And usually I’m like, wow, which politician is this I’m dating today? (Laughs heartily)
Alright, and on that note, let’s talk a little bit about relationships…
Are you dating?
(Smiles then shakes head) No.
I’m currently at a place where I’m just so taken by my career. Especially with the move (To Citizen) I’m just embracing it all and appreciating everything about it.
This is not to say that everything in life is now perfect and there’s nothing to complain about, no, that’s not the case, but I’m really appreciating where I’m at, at this very point in my life.
Are you open to dating?
I am, I’m open to it.
Even though I’m appreciative of my career and everything it has to offer, I’m not saying that dating is completely out.
I would eventually love to settle down and have someone to walk this life journey with, but that’s not the major goal for me right now.
Yeah, I’m in a space where I’m exploring my profession with everything it has to offer, as well as exploring myself.
I’m learning more about myself, I’m doing things that I want to do, I’m appreciating myself, flaws and all, I’m just in a very beautiful space.
And perhaps this could also be an encouragement to all the women who are always like, “Oh, when will I get my partner? When will my turn come?”
Take time to really know yourself, fully understand yourself, be content with who you are, so that when that person eventually comes along, they’ll become quite enamored by you, because you’re so great to be around.
I heard you say once, that very rarely, do men outrightly approach you, is this really the case?
(Nods) It is. Like where I’m just doing my own thing and someone comes, says hi, and asks me out on a date? Yeah, that definitely doesn’t happen. (Bursts out laughing)
Do you think it’s because being on TV makes you appear slightly intimidating to men?
I think the intimidation factor, usually has a lot to do with what people generally think, of those who work in the media, and people’s past interactions with other media personalities.
I have had people interact with me and five minutes in, they’re so confused, and they say things like, “Wow, you’re so down-to-earth! I met so and so, and I couldn’t speak to them, they were so unapproachable and arrogant, but with you it’s different.”
And I laugh, because I’m like, what? But I’m human, like you. As in, why? Why would I be intimidating? (Laughs)
Yeah, why? You could just say yes if they asked, and join them at Argenti for some pretty decent lunch, like you did with me…
Exactly! (Laughs) It’s really not big a deal…just ask. (Laughs again)
What qualities would you be looking for in an ideal partner?
(Pauses then looks out the window) I’d want someone who has a relationship with God, because my walk with God is very critical to me.
I’d want a fully-formed man, in that, he knows what he wants out of life, he may not be there yet, but he knows where he is, and where he’s going.
I prefer men who are self-driven, supportive, and, having a sense of humour helps too. (Laughs.)
I can be very sarcastic, (Laughs again) so I would like to be with someone who has a quick sense of humour.
But those are just some qualities, in the end, I’d really prefer someone who just has a good heart. I’ve always been concerned about the people around me, so I’d like someone like that.
Also, don’t start keeping up appearances, showing up with I don’t know what type of car, (shakes head), no, just have a good heart. That matters to me a lot.
What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to dating?
I don’t like liars. I hate pathological liars. Ah, I can’t stand people who lie. Especially if it’s something so small, it’s like, why are you lying? Why would you lie about that? Seriously, why?
I can’t stand people who lie for no particular reason. I’d rather you just tell me the truth, even if it stings, I’ll find ways to deal with it, then we can move on. But finding out that someone lied to me when they didn’t really have to ticks me off. It really does. That’s such a huge character flaw for me.
Speaking of flaws, what’s your biggest flaw?
It’s very hard for me to say, “No.” I think that’s my biggest flaw.
Those close to me have said, “Vicky you’re too nice.” And people can take advantage of that, and they have. That’s a big flaw of mine, that I’m so concerned about people, that rarely do I stop to think and realise, “Wait, this is actually damaging me.” And sometimes I find out when its too late.
So whether it’s a partnership, a relationship, whatever it is, I’m now learning to be cognizant of the dynamics of it, and being aware of, you know, what does this actually mean for me?
I’m also learning to be comfortable with just saying, “No.” You don’t have to say, “Yes,” to everything. Really, you don’t.
“No,” is a complete sentence.
Precisely! Ah, I love that. It really is a complete sentence. You don’t have to go around in circles justifying and explaining to everyone why you don’t want to do something.
When I think about the times I said, “No,” to something, no one died, you know? (Laughs) People moved on with their lives and life went on. It’s okay.
What does, “Self-love,” mean to you?
(Pauses) Self-love for me, means accepting every part of you: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Everyone has aspects of them they could improve on. And I think once you’re aware of this, you’re able to settle in.
You don’t necessarily become a perfect person, but you become whole and content in yourself. So even when people make comments, and try to tear you down, you’re not easily moved, because there’s a self-assuredness about you.
Any last words?
I think what I’ve really held onto over the years, is the importance of staying true to yourself. You have to realise, that the higher you go, the more people will want to tear you down.
Stay grounded, remain true to yourself, and just do your best work. Focus on that, on being authentic, because that’s all that matters. The rest is just noise.