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SNAPPY 7 – Gerald Langiri: Schoolmates laughed at my perfect Swahili

Gerald Langiri is one of the busiest actors in Kenya, but he admits getting where he is at the moment was not easy.

The actor, who has appeared in several TV shows and films locally, took time to talk to Nairobi News about his career.

1. Who is Gerald Langiri – I am an actor, casting director, film director and actively involved in Kenya’s film industry. Who Langiri is, is a difficult question because I still have no idea who I am. I’m still learning who I am.

I was born and raised in Mombasa, went to school there and later moved to Nairobi to join University and then started working here in Nairobi. When I moved to Nairobi most of my school mates laughed at my perfect Swahili because I didn’t speak English well.

2. Why acting and how has it changed you – I’ve never seen myself doing anything else. It might sound cliché but I think acting is not something you choose, to me it’s more of a calling because I started acting when I was really young. From nursery school play to where I am now, it all started back then.

I remember acting as lady in high school because no one wanted to play the role of a woman. They had to give me fake boobs and I admit I looked good in them. The boobs made me win second best “actress” in Coast province.

After high school I wanted to keep acting but unfortunately in Kenya we still have a long way to go in terms of structures. So I ended up at the National Theater. Nothing came up so my mother, who is my number one fun, told me to go to campus. It’s been six amazing years since I started acting and it pays my rent.

3. What is the difference between TV and Film acting – In TV everything has to be done quickly, unlike film were it is more compassed. For film they let you take your time so that you can be at your best. In Kenya’s TV shows you can always tell that they keep rushing and trying to keep up with the story line. In the end, it leaves people with more questions than answers.

4. Are you married and can you cook – What is marriage? We have been engaged for a long time so I can say we are married. For me a certificate will not do it because marriage is what is in your heart. We are going to be new parents soon.

I can cook food. I can boil eggs. Having been raised by a single mother, cooking is something we had to learn. So if you throw me in the kitchen I will work wonders.

5. What can Kenya learn from Nigerian film industry and what would change given a chance – In Nigeria they have support from their government while in Kenya we don’t. We lack something called star culture in Kenya because our audience do not appreciate what we are doing. Kenyans do not like to go out and watch our films unlike Nigerians and Ghanaians  who jam the cinema halls to watch their films.

It’s not easy as easy as it sounds but I would put policies and structures in place. I know there are a few people who are trying to do that. There are a few proposal and bills that have been passed to the government so that the film industry in Kenya can grow.

6. Does acting pay well – I am a full time actor and I’ve been surviving on it for the last five years so it does pay. I might not be a millionaire but I’m also not broke. So it’s possible for you to survive as an actor but it also requires a lot of skill, your talent is just a small part of it. Branding and marketing yourself also counts.

7. Your advice to aspiring actors – First you should question yourself why you want to become an actor. Is it for fame and money or is your passion? To achieve what you want you must have passion for it. By passion I mean that thing inside you that keeps you awake all the time. Acting is not for failures.