There’s no busier Kenyan actor at the moment than Sarah Hassan – from her titular role in Citizen TV’s brand-new telenovela Zora to her newly released film Just In Time on Netflix to playing Detective Makena in the Showmax Original police procedural series, Crime and Justice.
With seven episodes already streaming on Showmax, Crime and Justice follows detective duo Makena and her partner Silas (Alfred Munyua) as they investigate crimes taking place in Nairobi, all the way through to the courtroom verdict.
While every episode focuses on a different case, they are all inspired by real-life crimes in Kenya, some ripped straight from the headlines.
“It’s completely relatable,” Hassan says, admitting that it’s easier to bring out Makena’s feelings on these cases, especially those that deal with topical issues such as femicide, domestic violence and sexual abuse. “It’s good to be able to portray emotions that not just me, but a lot of people, feel.”
Unlike her partner Silas, a by-the-book detective who believes in following the law without questioning it, Makena will go the extra mile to fight for justice. Like in episode two where she clashes with her boss (Maqbul Mohammed) and the prosecutor (Paul Ogola) over a murder case involving a teenage girl. Or in episode five where she confronts a colleague involved in a domestic violence case while others look the other way.
Hassan describes Makena as a woman who is very passionate about what she does. “She believes in helping people, especially those in vulnerable positions,” Hassan says.
“She still believes the system can work even though she’s surrounded by the people who have become complacent. She actually cares, and she invests everything she has for there to be justice. She’s just so fantastic to watch and so fantastic to play.”
Hassan has previously featured in a number of high-profile projects, like Citizen TV’s long-running high school drama Tahidi High that made her a household name, Dorothy Ghettuba’s AMVCA-nominated series Jane and Abel, Kenya’s first medical drama Saints (another Ghettuba production), AMVCA-nominated drama How to Find a Husband; and Lowladee’s Kalasha and AMVCA-winning rom-com Plan B.
She is excited to play a detective for the first time. So far, she’s gone head-to-head with a powerful politician, got herself suspended for disobeying her superiors, and threatened a high-ranking colleague. In subsequent episodes, we’ll see her take on a dangerous terrorist, pursue a suspect in a high-speed chase, and even confront a serial killer on the loose.
“It’s so exciting, you have no idea,” Hassan says. “I’ve never played anyone like Makena before. It’s exciting to get a character that grows me as a person, and as an actor.”
Crime and Justice is Kenya’s first Showmax Original, and one that is challenging the quality of content in the country, and showing what is possible when streaming services invest in local content. Hassan, who’s been in the film/TV industry for over ten years, admits that it’s one of the best projects she’s ever been involved in.
“I’m so happy and proud to be part of amazing content coming out of Kenya. When I read the script, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness’,” Hassan says. “And we have such an amazing director, Adam. He is a proper actors’ director and a technical director as well. It’s great to work with a director like that who grows you as an actor, and working with actors who are fantastic at what they do as well.”
The first 7 episodes of Crime and Justice are now available to binge-watch on Showmax. Catch new episodes from 5 April.