Governor Kivutha Kibwana’s kin perfecting family genes in acting
AMOS MOPHAT, 23, is a fast-rising actor and third year International Relations student at Daystar University. He’s known for his roles on local shows and movies such as Pirates wa Mtaa, Malaika, Machachari, Je Huu ni Ungwana and Mchungaji. He talks with NJAMBI WANJIKU about his aspirations
I am ambitious, aggressive and smart.
Growing up, did you ever think about acting?
I have been acting since my high school days in 2013 at St Lawrence Schools in Uganda. I was a member of the school’s drama club.
I scripted a play that won in the drama festival. I always knew acting was what I wanted to do.
My grandfather, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, was once an actor and I have a niece who has been acting for a while. Acting runs in the family.
What are some of the most common misconceptions about actors and acting?
A common misconception is that all actors are wealthy, merry and mentally healthy.
The truth is that actors are vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Established actors with illustrious careers, especially in Hollywood, earn millions of dollars, but unfortunately most actors fall well below that mark.
Another misconception is that acting is not work. It is actually a skill that requires training and is hard work that demands a lot of time, focus and energy.
As a starter, what challenges have you faced thus far?
I got typecast a lot. After my breakthrough role as a brat on Je, Huu ni Ungwana, I was offered other roles that were similar to the one I was known for—the badly behaved child. So, some people think in reality I am like the characters I’ve played.
Piracy also affects my work and that of other actors. It is a zero sum game. It results in less money being invested in new material.
Pirates are effectively kicking to death the very industry they think they are helping grow.
How can one tell good from bad acting?
The simplest way to determine whether or not one is watching good or bad acting is to determine how it makes them feel.
The most profound of performances across drama, comedy and everything in between will incite an involuntary response. If an actor seems to be faking it, then they’re not doing their work.
Personally, do you know when you are good or bad?
I have a pretty good barometer of when I am on point. I am at the top of my game by virtue of the fact that I have been practicing so much.
How have your educational experiences impacted on your career as an actor?
In terms of the formal traditional training at St Lawrence Schools, Africa Nazarene University and now Daystar University, it has given me that foundational barometer and a point of reference with respect to technique, tradition and history of this industry, as well as the craft of acting, television and movie making.
It is a perpetual education and I like to think of myself as a perpetual student because you really never stop learning.
Do you have a dream role?
I have always wanted to play a gangster. I have watched Nairobi Half Life many times and I wish I was part of that cast.
What is the least amount an established actor should take home?
Actors do not have a fixed amount they take home because different production companies offer different amounts depending on their budget. For films, actors get paid based on the role and scenes they are in.
Is there hope for Kenya’s film industry?
Kenyan film quality is well above that of its African peers, but lack of proper government and corporate investment continues to hold back local films.
It takes a team of both the cast and crew to put together a film and in the absence of a budget, many people are not always ready to invest their time. Players often volunteer to make the dream come true.
Do you have any regrets?
It is hard to get real friends once you are in the limelight. Many people have tried to exploit me in so many ways.
Who is your role model?
TV director Philip Karanja. He runs his own production company called Phil It Productions and I would like to work with him someday.
What keeps you going despite all the challenges in the acting industry?
My passion for acting is my prime drive.
Do you have aspirations in the acting field?
Yes. I would like to build a fully equipped film studio and give life to the dreams of aspiring actors. I think my life’s work will be remembered as entertaining, informative and educative.