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TAKE 5: Charlie Karumi

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By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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Charlie is an award-winning actor, vlogger and TV and radio presenter. He has taken part in projects such as Academy Award-nominated Watu Wote, Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki and Danish mini-series “Liberty”. He’s currently a TV presenter and writer at Scoop Network Africa and a radio presenter at NRG Radio.

It all started with, and continues to be about acting and performance. I started acting in high school. I was in Alliance High way back in the day and we had a super vibrant drama club. We even won nationals once when I was in Form Two. When I left high school and went to university, I joined Phoenix Players and started working and acting and training there. While here, I met Dorothy Ghettuba, CEO of Spielworks Media. She gave me some of my first jobs on television. I worked for her for a few years. That’s how I got started.

2. Your acting has taken you all over the world, what is significantly different for you when you compare acting for a Kenyan show and, say, acting for a South African one?

The difference between acting on a Kenyan project and an out of country one is usually budget. There’s a lot more investment being done in production projects in countries such as South Africa. That budget doesn’t just mean better pay for cast and crew, it also translates to the amount of time the schedule can afford you to do a certain scene. The more time you have, the better the outcome, in most cases.

3. You’ve played a role in a number of Kenyan movies such as Rafiki, Watu Wote and Nairobi Half Life. What do you think is unique about these films and how do you think they tell our story?

What’s unique about the films? They excel at good story telling. The story might be traditional or indigenous or as ‘Kenyan’ as you might like, but if it isn’t a good story and/or you don’t tell it well, it will flop.

4. What advice would you give a young university student who, like you, may be pursuing one degree and nursing a passion on the side?

a) Be your biggest fan. You might not be any good when you start out, and many people will keep reminding you of that, so it’s up to you to remain your most loyal fan and try to fight off all that negative energy.

b) You will get better. It’s inevitable. If you keep doing it over and over and over again, you’ll have to get better.

c) If you find someone who shares your vision and whose energy is right, stick to this person like glue. One of my biggest failings is that I never learned to work with people. If you can learn that, you’ll be good!

d) Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s honestly never that serious.

5. What can we expect from you next?

Your guess is as good as mine. I think I’m just waiting for this year to come to an end so that I can review and re-strategise.

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