SNAPPY 7: Justin Mirichii – I was once laughed off stage during auditions – VIDEO
Justin Mirichii started acting almost a decade ago and has worked on global productions, most notably the Oscar nominated Hamburg Media School’s Watu Wote.
The 2016 recipient of the Best Actor Award for “48 Hours” Film, and the 2012 Kalasha for Best Supporting Actor in a TV Drama spoke to Nairobi News about his journey in the entertainment industry.
1. You were a cast on “Watu Wote”, how was the experience? It was a very exciting time working with the students from Hamburg Media School to come together and put this story up. I played the role of Ouma who was a mechanic in the bus. It was also a wonderful experience and a lot of learning for me about production at that level. Primarily, it was an educative moment and seeing how a Kenyan story can be transformed in to a world class script, filmed and put out there and accepted by the world.
2. You have been in the industry for a while now, who is Justin? Justin is a man. He is a creative person. I remember when I was a kid I loved to draw and sing, which I still do once in a while, but not as much as I used to do. I have a passion for people and so part of the work that I am trying to do is to really improve the condition for work in this country, primarily for actors. I think if we do that it can trickle down and the wave will improve our film industry. I seek to connect the network with people who have a heart for art.
3. Where did you grow up? I grew up in a place called Riruta near Kawagware. It was such an experience. I attended Strathmore Primary and while there, there was change in our family and that is when we moved to Riruta were I joined Riruta Primary School. It was a big change for me. I later joined Highway Secondary School.
4. When did you start acting? I accidentally started acting about 10 years ago. I was in a band called Tamasha Beats and then one day I was invited by one of my band mate who was an actor to their set. On that day, one actor did not show up and they needed a policeman in the show so the director suited me up and told me to be the police officer. I was totally confused because I had no idea what was happening. Later the director complemented me for what I had done. I didn’t consider myself an actor because I had gone for several auditions and I was never picked. In one of the auditions I had the worst experience ever in my life after some of the casting crew laughed at me. After the compliments it brought out the question that maybe I can do it and that is how my journey started.
5. What goes through your mind when you remember that people laughed at you and now you are taking awards home? I think it is just life. What it taught me is that you need to believe in yourself. If you feel inspired by something, believe in it and let your faith surpass everything because at the end of the day this is your journey. Some people will believe in you and help you while others will not and will try to bring you down. It is just the eco-system that we are living in. I don’t take it personally.
6. Your take on the industry in Kenya? I think the Kenyan government should give rebates to companies which are in the arts and also relax some of the laws. There is also all this talk about policy change which has been going on for a long time. When is it going to happen? To be honest, I don’t think we would have gone this far if we didn’t have the German team shooting Watu Wote.
7. What is the story behind the formation of Sanifu Productions? Sanifu Productions is the answer to my dissatisfaction with work conditions and product quality. I’d like to get treated well, be proud of what I help produce, have more regular work and get paid what I’m worth. I’m working to build that for other practitioners in my industry, basically initiating the change I want to see. Sanifu is a Swahili word meaning proper and accurate. Our tagline is ‘Conformity to Truth’ – yet another translation for the word. There’s a great vision here.