An interview with screen icon Melvin Alusa – a veteran actor in Kenya
Tell us a bit about your acting journey.
My career spans over 15 years. It has been a decade plus of starring in both local and international productions, working with both local and international crews, learning and growing.
I have always wanted to act. I was one of those children who would say they wanted to be an actor when everyone was saying they wanted to be neurosurgeons.
I feel blessed to be doing something I am so passionate about and take every opportunity I can to upskill and learn.
I am also big on giving back and hold workshops to share the lessons I have learnt along the way.
Why is it important to you to be a multi-faceted actor?
It is important for me to bring more than just acting to the table. I have done Muay Thai boxing, and I am a good vocalist and singer too.
I believe that having these added skills helps make for more nuanced performances. I believe in giving my characters great back-stories in order to perform better.
My wide experience in acting has also enabled me to grow and be a better performer.
I also bring to the table media experience; I am good at fielding interviews and being in front of the camera both as an actor and for interviews.
I was at one point on Big Brother Africa reality TV show, and I believe that if you can survive those many cameras, you can do any interview and well too.
How do you pick the projects to work on?
I am passionate about projects that tell impactful stories of Kenya and Africa. That is the first thing I look at when choosing a project to work on.
I want to align my craft with films that will change the audiences’ lives. I really love my work and immersing myself in the world of the characters I portray. I have an actor’s toolbox that I have assembled over time.
I seek to draw from both personal and professional experience in order to create subtle characters that resonate with audiences.
I believe in growth and continuous learning and I’m always looking for new characters that will extend my knowledge and force me to grow.
So, what keeps you going?
True, acting has its on and off times. You will get a contract and when it ends, you have to run on a lean budget for a while; this is why I firmly believe that acting is a calling.
But passion is what keeps me powering through both the highs and lows. I normally use the down time to upskill and learn a new skill set, as I keep my acting muscle active through workshops.
I am driven by the will to tell beautiful, compelling and powerful African stories and at the highest performance level possible.
Where is the intersect between fitness and acting?
Acting is a holistic activity in that it engages all of your senses. You have to be both mentally sharp and physically agile.
I have always loved working out; it is one way of honouring the vessel you are in.
I believe that staying physically and mentally fit is something we should all invest in, no matter the profession you are in.
Is it true that actors are indisciplined and irresponsible as most people think?
There will always be a few people in any profession who are indisciplined. This does not mean we judge the entire populace by the character exhibited by a few.
I mean, some time back this might have been the case, but I am really glad to say that actors are increasingly becoming more professional and taking acting as a serious career.
Many actors today save and invest, and are therefore more prepared for the dry periods that are characteristic of any career in the arts.
I believe that there is a new crop of actors and artists who are not scared of responsibility. I pride myself in being disciplined and responsible.
I am a family man, husband and loving father over and above being an actor. It is up to all of us to show personal responsibility in our careers.
This will eventually seep into the collective fabric of the profession over time, I believe.
What can you tell someone who wants to be like you?
Invest in yourself and your craft. Remember that nothing was built in a day. So, keep growing and learning, and over time, your brand will grow in tandem with your knowledge.
There is enough space in the arts for all of us. Earn your spot on the table through hard work, discipline and persistence.