Every craft requires practice to perfect. Part of the practice comes from training. Recent developments in the acting industry have seen actors and producers creating workshops and curricula to equip actors with necessary skills. Notable mentions are Sanifu Production’s Class Act, Melissa Kiplagat‘s ‘Actors’ workshops, and Wamwirua Musoke‘s Acting Masterclass, Nini Wacera and Aroji Drama Academy’s acting workshops as well as Aroji Drama Academy’s acting classes.
This May from 6th to 11th, Filmlab Kenya in partnership Life Ministry Kenya will be unveiling and facilitating its new film curriculum dubbed M.A.D.E (Media. Arts. Discipleship. Engagement).
This is a short course on developing content and making films as ministry and social responsibility tools.
And there’s a surety of more of such training initiative to build capacity for the film industry.
Back to acting, auditions are the actor’s interview. In one of the Sanaa Talks TV episodes, acclaimed TV & Film Carol Odongo stated that one of the problems the industry suffers, is because we don’t have trained actors. Casting director Isaya Evans reiterated on that, pointing out, that sometimes “the best actor in Kenya does not have a head shot, showreel and profile.” So how do actors prepare for their interviews?
Actress and content creator, Nice Githinji, held an audition on 23rd and 24th of February 2019 in order to select actors, singers and dancers for a one-month intensive workshop. ‘The Audition’, as it was aptly dubbed, took place in Nairobi. The event saw hundreds of raw talent in acting, singing and dancing turn up in a bid to try their luack at one of only 16 spots available for the workshop, which will culminate in production of a stage play and two short films.
Our correspondent Mwamburi Maole sat down with Nice Githinji to discuss the much-hyped event.
Nice, what do you have in mind for the contestants that make it through the audition?
The goal is to have them go through a month-long intensive acting, singing and dancing workshop as they simultaneously compete for the top seven best who will be cast in two short films and a stage play later in April this year.
Why was the audition process so thorough?
You know, the idea is to work with a group that’s naturally gifted. I’m talking about instincts, nuances and the like and hardworking as well. Hadassah Esther, my co-producer, and I wanted a team that’s ready to put in the work and that’s exactly what we got.
What makes this team that you are talking about stand out?
Other than what I have already mentioned, the team I’m working with comprises of youth mostly between the ages of 18 and 24. The most pleasing bit (smiles) is that almost half of them are singers/actors.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest misconception people have about the performing arts industry, film included?
(Pauses) It is generally thought that getting into the industry is easy, especially if you know someone. This is the kind of thinking that makes aspiring artists spam renowned artists with requests for gigs. I think these people would rather spend those energies in improving their art, say through online tutorials. They could also check for rehearsals and then speak with these directors or actors on a one on one basis. We want these kids to be self- sufficient.
In closing, tell us more about these workshops you will be having.
The acting workshops will be run by myself with the assistance of Bilal Mwaura and Nick Ndeda. The music/singing department will be overseen by Andrew Wambua while the dancers will be under the mentorship of Alacoque Ntoome. We intend to equip this class with enough tools to dip their feet in the industry. The ‘job shadow programme’ I have created will give them a feel of working on a set or in a studio.
Below are the profiles of the producers and facilitators.
Nice Githinji | Producer/Director/Curriculum developer
Nice has had 7 nominations and two wins in the Kalasha TV and Film Awards and Sanaa Theatre Awards. She’s a performing artist with musical titles like Rizzo from Grease and Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ superstar in her repertoire and a filmography that boasts 14 international and local films.
Hadassah Esther | Producer
Actor (Wingu la moto, Mshamba). She’s also a stand-up comedian and stage producer with Heartstrings Entertainment and produced “Madam President” at Kenya National Theatre. Hadassah was a nominee for Riverwood Awards best supporting actress.
Andrew Wambua | Music tutor
He’s a singer song-songwriter and vocal coach/director of the famed productions Jesus Christ Superstar, a through sang Musical and the High School Musical, Grease.
Nick Ndeda | Mentor
Nick’s resume boasts over 15 years of professional acting including several lead roles on stage with reputable theatre groups such as Phoenix Players, FCA and Back to Basics. On screen he has appeared on top TV shows including MTV Shuga and the South African series “Jacob’s Cross”. In 2017 he played the lead role in the movie “18 Hours” which won best movie in Africa at the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA) in Lagos, Nigeria. He is also a voice artist who has lent his talents to several radio commercial brands such as Sprite. He is also the host of a morning radio show on XFM.
Bilal Mwaura | Mentor
Recently nominated as best actor in Sanaa Theatre Awards, Bilal is an actor, writer and content developer who prides himself in his versatility and diligence. His works have been received with both critical and popular acclaim since 2007.
He stars in Nganya, a TV series on (iflix) created by Nice Githinji and has appeared in Sacred Games (Netflix), Mother-in-law (Citizen TV), Sue na Jonnie (Maisha Magic East) among others. However, it is on the stage where he fully comes to life, performing with troupes like Pambazuka Arts, Festival of Creative Arts, Phoenix Players, Aroji Drama Academy and Prevail Arts. His notable writing contribution was with Festival of Creative Arts and Vitimbi on Maisha Magic East.
Barbaghida Ibrahim | Nice’s go to guy. 😊
He’s a creative who has specialized in Cinematography, Photography and Editing, working on Freelance contracts and has covered international acts performances like Major Lazer (Walshy Fire), Burna Boy, Mr. Eazi and MICASA. He was involved in the production of a couple of Tv shows, namely Talanta Mtaani, The Basement and Events show on Triple P Tv. Ibrahim also worked as an assistant producer/ line producer on The Squad a talk show that aired on Ace Tv produced by Nice Githinji and Janet Kirina. Whenever Chef Malonga from Paris, who is in the FORBES list of the richest people under 30yrs, is in Kenya, Ibrahim partners with him on creation of his content.