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Kevin Samuel: Why I’m quitting acting

After more than a decade of a lustrous acting career, actor Kevin Samuel says he is now ready to call it quits. Samuel says his latest project, Igiza, will be his final one as he now turns his focus on his family and other assignments.

In Igiza, a Showmax Original production, Samuel plays Reggie, husband to the successful businesswoman, Nicole (Serah Ndanu).

Together, the pair cut the picture of a power couple. But behind the glitz and glamour associated with their lives, Nicole and Reggie harbour a dark secret regarding illegal dealings of their business.

“Igiza is my final show, my final bow in the acting world. The way my last show ended, it was a very intense shoot and in some ways it was traumatic for us. After the show, a lot of people either quit acting or went on to other things. Over the years I have always had that question asking myself when I would make a comeback,” Samuel said.

“Then Igiza just happened to show up at the right time because I was not supposed to be in Nairobi but in London, but then Covid-19 happened and the lockdowns came so I found myself stuck in Kenya,” he explained further.

The character Reggie, he says, appealed to him on a personal level.

“Reggie is who I could have ended up being if I continued on a certain path of life that I was on. When I came back for a short while in 2019, and I have been quite vocal about this, I checked myself into rehab and I got clean. So basically if I did not get sober I would have become Reggie, maybe without the money laundering issues that you will see on the show,” he said.

For Samuel, playing Reggie in Igiza was surreal, some sort of a perfect end to his acting career.

“That is why I wanted to play the show because I knew if I wanted to say goodbye I would have to do it with something that has such tremendous value to me. My hope is that when people get to watch this character and empathize with him they will still be able to see why sometimes just chasing money is not worth it,” he said.

“This is something that took me in very dark alleys to figure it out. To me, Reggie is a cautionary tale and I wanted to play him to tell people that this is what is wrong with men my age in Nairobi right now. The addiction was so bad for me that I got to a point when I would wake up and I could not do anything but have a drink first. This was a red alert for me and I knew I needed to seek help.”

According to Samuel, what he sees that scares people to seek sobriety is the idea of losing their identity.

In a past interview, Samuel said he only got into acting by chance.

“I was at a cocktail party where someone told me that season one of the TV series Changes was auditioning. I auditioned and got a role as Kuta Sempele, a legal assistant to Alfred Gitau, a prominent lawyer. Kuta spied on his boss Alfred for William Hector, the boss to Mr Gitau. I liked my role because I actually fooled a very smart lawyer,” he recalled.

After Changes, the TV drama series Mali, which aired on NTV, came calling.

“I landed in Mali after the producers saw and liked the work I had done on Changes. I came to relocated to Nairobi from Mombasa, where I grew up, after I got the Mali role. I met my wife on set. She was a cast member of Mali. I say the biggest gift of Mali was finding my wife,” Samuel said.

So why is he quitting acting?

“I have never told anyone this, but I remember some time back I was working at a financial consulting company and this fan came up to me all dazzled to see me. In simple words she was hysterical. Here I was in a financial service company with a bunch of other people in suits and this fan is freaking out. That is when I decided I wanted to be more than just a TV actor,” he explains.