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SNAPPY 7: Mugambi Nthiga – No way you can refer our film awards as the Kenyan Oscar

He is currently riding high on a musical play Jesus Christ Superstar. It is a depiction of Jesus’ life; seen largely through the perspective of his close apostle and self-appointed right-hand man, Judas – played by non-other than Mugambi Nthiga.

This Kenyan actor, writer, director and-more-much-more got of his comfort zone and honored Nairobi News with an insight of what he does.

1. Where did the idea of Kati Kati film come from? – I wish I knew. Well it came from a certain idea that we wanted to let people know that the afterlife is not as simple as we think it is. We wanted people to know or consider that the end of our lives on this side is not the end and it might be the beginning of something else. The stuff that we carry here on earth doesn’t really leave us and we have to actually let go before we go to the next life.

2. How did you break into acting and script writing? – It’s something that I have always wanted to do. I would like to say I broke the door but I believe I kicked that door down. It was really hard to break in and the first paid act was after I had just finished campus. I still think I’m breaking in.

There used to be a series of musical at Mavuno Church where I volunteered to act and direct, only for one day to be brought in to brainstorm a story and was told not to write anything. Later when I was directing the play I realised that here were so many things I wanted to tweak in and there.

So the next time we were doing the next project I was told to write and that is how it started.

Actor Mugambi Nthiga. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU
Actor Mugambi Nthiga. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

3. What else would you be doing if you were not an actor? – I think I would be a teacher. I still do that on the side once in a while. Before I got into this I used to work for an advertising company as a copy writer, but I was writing stuff to sell things and now I write stories.

4. What’s your take on the Kenyan film industry? – There is a lot of potential and we are realising it now more than ever. A lot of us we have decided to take it in our own hands because there is very little support from the government.

We have a Cabinet Secretary whose name is uttered every time we have a commission (of inquiry), parastatals that are concerned directly with what I do which is film. Collectively the award winning film Kati Kati as long as it is concerned they have done nothing except what they are paid to do which is handle paper work.

As far as any support that they could give us outside of that, which other government around the world do for their film industry, this government gives nothing.

5. Do the Kalasha Awards and MachaFest motivate film makers to do a better job? – In the past we have seen Kalasha Awards give trophies to films which were not as deserving as other films in that category. To me I don’t think the point of the award is to award the same thing and I would say the same for MachaFest. They can do better, there is no way they you can refer to these awards as the Kenyan Oscar. I refuse.

6. What’s advice would you give a 19 year-old Mugambi and any other young ones out there? – I would tell him to dream hard and dream big, but don’t think that it is going to laid on your lap just because you are dreaming. Entitlement is perhaps the worst thing you can wear. It’s the worst suit to dress up and go to work with. Do not ever feel like the world owes you anything, but believe that you can go out and get because it yours only that it is not owed to you.

7. What should we expect from you in the coming year? – We are actually working on the next film and we have a very good team behind it and I think it is a very good story. It will be shot this year but it will not be out this year. From the acting side, I’m still auditioning very hard and looking to get stronger into directing.