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SNAPPY 7 – Olympia Owira: I shop at Toi and Ngara markets and I love it

To many, Olympia Owira is simply ‘Mama Boi’ from the character that she played in the soap opera Lies that Bind. Olympia, who made her big break in Changing Times is a stage and screen actress who also doubles up as an assistant director.

Nairobi News spoke to her on the set of the latest show that she is directing Sumu La Penzi.

1. Tell us about yourself – I am basically my mum’s and dad’s child. For those who don’t know me, I’m and actress, model, assistant director, presenter and a big fan Arsenal Football Club. My father is Luo and my mother is Kikuyu/Maasai. But to be honest I can’t speak either Luo or Maasai.

2. Your acting career and the hardest part of it – While in high school a friend told me to try drama club. So I did and it all started from there. After high school I joined Kenya Polytechnic’s Theatre Holics before Jennifer Gacheru told me to audition for Changing Times. I used to love watching my aunt play Jessica Brown on KBC’s Tausi in the 90s.

One of the hardest things in acting is trying to please the people in our industry. Sometimes our industry is cruel if you are new. I’m not perfect and sometimes you find yourself acting with people who have been in the industry longer than you but who don’t want to support you. At first my mum didn’t approve of my choice of acting as a career because my aunt’s career ended with Tausi so she thought the same would happen to me.

3. What was your reaction when you first saw yourself on TV – I didn’t want to see myself because my mother kept on criticising me because of my facial features. When I act I never look at myself on the shows. I’m my worst critique.

4. Who are your role models – My father is my role model. My mother will not like this and I’m sure she will scold me for it. My dad always pushes me to do my best because our industry is a little bit tricky and he always sends me inspirational quotes to motivate me. The way he works hard to make ends meet also motivates me.

5. Single or dating – Yes, I have someone in my life. We met two years ago and became friends but we didn’t start dating until six months ago. About children and marriage, that’s not for me to say, it is the will of God and if it is the right time then it will be so.

6. Tell us about your style – Simply said I’m a tomboy. Sometimes I try to be a girlie girl but I mostly prefer to be simple. I’m not so much of high heels person. I won’t lie to you that I shop in Dubai or Milan and wear Gucci or all those brands. I shop at Toi or Ngara market. Some people might say that I’m cheap but at the end of the day what I’m wearing might be the same thing which might have cost me Sh 10,000 and yet I got it for Sh 1,000.

7. What is your take on tabloids and the Kenya film industry – With a mother who is a teacher and also who teaches drama in schools you can expect her to read everything and sometimes she calls me to ask me if it’s true what has been written in the media. She understands and keeps me going.

The Kenya film industry is growing but we still have a long way to go. We are building sets, renting houses to shoot a show, but the government is not helping much. Films should not be shot in South Africa yet the story depicts Kenya.

People should also know that acting pays, I am an example. We need acting in schools but we are learning through YouTube and Google what to do on a set. We do have amazing actors in Kenya – look at Lupita, she won an Oscar.