The actor in my life, meet thespian, Christine Lwanga
Harriet James @harriet86jim
When thespian, Martin Githinji said I do to the love of his life, Christine Lwanga in a colourful Ugandan traditional wedding, the news sent the Internet into a frenzy.
Their fans flooded the online streets sending their congratulatory messages. This is a memory that the two say, they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
When she met Martin for the first time, it was while she accompanied her friend who was delivering a package to Martin at Alliance Francaise. Little did she know that on that day, cupid was smiling at her.
“He asked my friend Maureen for my number, but he didn’t reach out. Coincidentally, we met two days later when he almost ran over me at the Thika Road Mall (TRM) entrance after which we touched base,” she narrates.
Christine had no idea that she was dating one of Kenya’s celebrated actors and that is what totally attracted Martin to her: the fact that she loved him for who he was and not because of the fame.
Instead, Christine had a few concerns about the unpredictability of his profession. Soon, however, she learnt to adapt and appreciate him for who he was.
“I remember when I first visited him while he was on set and I got shocked at just how cumbersome shooting one episode was.
It gave me a perspective of what goes on behind the scenes. I have come to appreciate the vast talents that the industry showcases and I love what my husband does.
The corporate world is very different from the creative industry and it is only when you experience it firsthand does it give you a feel of what its all about,” says Christine.
In love with the craft
And when it comes to compromising scenes, Christine had to learn to separate Martin the artist from Martin the man she said ‘I do’ to.
First born of three, Martin’s passion for performing began way in his childhood years. He had the passion to perform in whatever platform; at parents day, Easter, Christmas, name it.
More so, he really enjoyed a show on KBC at the time known as Hollywood Highlights which gave behind the scenes intricacies of film making.
“He instantly fell in love with the craft, but he had no idea that one day he would be on TV acting,” she narrates.
As soon as he completed secondary school in 2004, Martin immediately embarked on finding acting opportunities.
“TV shows were not as vibrant and many as they are now to offer these opportunities to newbies, Martin started by performing in set books stage plays for a couple of years before joining university,” she explains.
The acting did not stop there. He joined Kenyatta University Travelling Theatre that made him a favourite among his campus mates.
He got his first TV appearance on the then popular shows like Noose of Gold, Tabasamu and Nairobi Law.
Fast forward to 2016, playing the part of Jonnie in the popular comedy show, Sue na Jonnie was one of his highlights as it turned him into a household name.
In the show, Jonnie is a witty character who despite his lack of confidence, manages to make his way through life against all odds.
The revered actor ended up winning the Kalasha TV and Film Award in 2017 for Best Actor in a TV Drama and a Riverwood Academy Award as Best Director in a Film for the year 2016.
“He always says that content creators are in a vanity industry. For your job to meet its quota, people have to like it so as to buy it. No one buys something they don’t like unless they have to.
That he can be liked and celebrated in his roles, is a deeply humbling realisation,” says the proud mother of one.
As an actor, every new role is a challenge for Martin, at least that’s what Christine observes.
With every new role, he always has to think of diverse ways of making the character different from the one he previously played.
“There are expectations from the audience for a start and also from the particular characters he plays. He always desires not to displease the audience or the character,” says Christine.
Martin later ventured into directing after a certain producer noticed he had a particular style of storytelling in his scripts, and they felt like he was directing the actors and actresses from his style of writing.
“The descriptions were more detailed than the average script should be. The person was Naomi Kamau, celebrated Kenyan actor of Mother in Law, Makutano Junction and producer of Machachari, and so he got his first directing role on a TV show in 2013 on Machachari on Citizen TV.
As much as he had directed on stage before that, the experiences have similarities but are more different than they are similar,” she beams.
And Christine is right behind him supporting his work by being active in sharing her perspective of his work.
She gives honest views and doesn’t hold back on giving constructive criticism. In addition she takes care of the home so that her husband can focus on what needs to be done.
And when it comes to handling fame, Christine has found a way of creating a healthy boundary.
“Whenever we walk in town in the evening, probably even holding hands and we meet some of his female fans, I always give them space to interact,” explains Christine.
Having both come from single parents, the two are wholly determined to make both their marriage and parenthood work.
“Nothing else gives Martin joy and fulfillment than spending time with his son in the evenings. He is conscious, intentional and strategic when it comes to fatherhood,” says Chrisitine
Their 2020 plan is to focus on increasing their social media presence. They have a family brand @MaNaPaTau comprising of @DaddieMarto and @Koku_Lwanga, where they have been putting out content that is fun, relatable, clean, at times naughty, but wholesome entertainment.
“The digital space offered us an opportunity, and since he is not shooting any shows currently, he has opted to take time and use his acting and directing skills to create his own content and feed it straight to his vast audience.
He’s pulled me into it, and it surprisingly has become part of me now,” she concludes.