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How docuseries producers convinced Maurice Odumbe and JB Masanduku to speak about failure

The highly anticipated Showmax Original docuseries ‘Nilichoma’ premiered its first episode, featuring the compelling story of Stephen Kevogo.

Once a successful marketer earning Sh800,000 a week, Kevogo’s life spiralled out of control due to addictions to drugs, women and alcohol, ultimately costing him his family and job.

‘Nilichoma,’ the first-ever Showmax Original docuseries in Kenya, explores the lives of well-known personalities who experienced sudden windfalls and squandered their fortunes.

The 13-part series is co-produced by Ahmed Deen, known for ‘Midlife Crisis,’ and Isaya Evans, a director and casting director renowned for his work on ‘Igiza’ and ‘Country Queen.’

The docuseries promises more captivating stories from prominent figures, including cricket icon Maurice Odumbe, comedian JB Masanduku, David Ogot (son of renowned author and politician Grace Ogot), and former Samburu millionaire Gabriel Lengishili, among others.

The producers, Deen and Evans, shared insights into how they brought ‘Nilichoma’ to life and chose its featured personalities.

Deen explained their selection criteria:

“We wanted individuals who had blown a significant amount of money (at least Sh1 million) in a short period and had very strong characters. From the pool of stories gathered by our research team and curated by the content director, we conducted pre-interviews to better understand the personalities and select our 10.”

Addressing the potentially embarrassing nature of losing large sums of money, Evans noted the initial hesitation among the participants.

“Everyone was somewhat cautious and cagey at first. Once we explained that the show would present their experiences authentically, without disparagement or mockery, they opened up. We emphasized respect and provided access to a therapist to ensure a comfortable environment for sharing their stories,” Evans said.

Convincing well-known personalities like Masanduku and Odumbe to join the show required a thoughtful approach.

Deen recalled their elevator pitch:

“We asked them, ‘Wouldn’t you like the world to know the other side of your story? The side you think about at night, the part no one but yourself knows?’ This perspective helped them move past their initial fears of truth and embarrassment.”

The research process was crucial in uncovering the stories behind these personalities. Evans highlighted their mentorship from producers of similar formats in other countries, which guided their approach.

“Our team of researchers, led by James Kimani, unearthed these stories through extensive research into similar case studies and follow-ups on towns that experienced financial booms. It was fascinating to explore the impact of money on people.”

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