The vloggers harbour
CHARLIE KARUMI wears many hats. He is an actor, vlogger as well as radio and TV presenter. He chats with WAMBUI VIRGINIA about his experiences and aspirations as a creative
You’ve got tonnes of acting experience. Give us a brief rundown.
My acting started way back while at Alliance High School between 2005 and 2008.
I was an active member of the drama club, so after school I’d find myself going to the Phoenix Players theatre just to look for any acting gig.
My parents were a bit skeptical over the direction I was taking, but while pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Information Technology at the Strathmore University between 2009 and 2013, I still found myself compelled to do acting over the long holidays.
So, when was your first role?
While at Phoenix I was featured on small roles on TV shows such as Changez, which was my first ever role.
Others I’ve taken part in are Lies that Bind, Higher Learning, Noose of Gold and Rush.
My first big role was on Jane and Abel in 2014 where I starred alongside, Brian Ogola, Lizz Njagah and Sarah Hassan.
In 2015, I starred alongside Gerald Langiri on Fundi-Mentals, a role that won me the 2015 Kalasha Award for Best Supporting Actor.
When did you venture into TV presenting?
I ventured into TV hosting in 2015, taking part in a show called The Presenter Season 2 finishing in the final 10.
A year later, I successfully auditioned for and took part in TLC’s Africa wide talent search Next Great Presenter.
I emerged second runners-up. In 2017, that’s when I got an opportunity to host the entertainment magazine show Arena 254 on K24 TV for about four months before I got a role in South Africa’s upcoming TV series Liberty; a screen adaptation of Jakob Ejersbo’s book.
The same year I was part of the Watu Wote short film project that was nominated for the Oscars.
Tell us about that specific nomination. How was the experience?
This was an interestingly good story. When I first told my friends to watch the trailer, most of them didn’t see me in the movie (laughs).
I was so much in character that I couldn’t be recognised. Now the movie premiered here in Kenya to coincide with the Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, I was not in the country.
I received the news at an airport in Copenhagen. I got wild and danced at the airport.
How was your experience in Hollywood?
So, after the nomination we needed to get to Hollywood. We had like a month to prepare and to get there, I needed air ticket and accommodation.
So, I put up a bubbly one-minute video on my social pages asking any able individual or company to sponsor me to go to the Oscars.
The video went viral and that’s when I got a call from Safaricom asking if I was still interested in my trip.
And at the snap of a finger, I got an all-paid trip to Hollywood to showcase and represent Kenya at one of the world’s most prestigious events.
The Hollywood experience was surreal. Having to walk the same red carpet with most of the Hollywood stars and even taking pictures with them was an opportunity that I’ll forever be grateful for.
Unfortunately, Watu Wote didn’t win, but we were still winners for having being recognised on such a platform.
How have you sustained your creative endeavors?
Acting was my primary sustenance, but with it also came a lot of opportunities both on radio and TV.
Acting involves reacting. Without listening, an actor cannot effectively react to the situation.
Being in this creative field has allowed me to interact with different characters and leaders in the industry all of which I have gained knowledge of their crafts and sometimes themselves.
Without listening and learning from their experiences it wouldn’t have been possible to enrich and spread my tentacles on this creative space.
Which role elevated your presence on TV and film?
I would say Jane and Abel in 2014. It was one of my biggest roles in TV. Also, my role on Watu Wote pushed my limits as an actor.
Have you ever auditioned for acting roles and failed to get them?
In this industry, it’s never a good idea to be hopeful about these roles. You can put all your effort and still get disappointed. One big role I ever auditioned for was for Shuga Kenya.
I feel like my age played a role in not getting the part because I did audition just straight from high school and at that time I looked like a 12-year-old.
Let’s talk about your vlogging.
I started vlogging back in 2016 and my channel back then was called ‘Chromeys’.
It was more of a comedy channel, then slowly I would share my travel experiences like the Hollywood experience and the feedback was so positive and since then travels have become a staple for the channel.
My vlogging is not commercial. I feel like my content resonates with a particular audience.
How do you keep up with social media?
Poorly. I have different accounts, but I log out as soon as I log in. My most active is Instagram, but still I would never spend like an hour browsing.
I just post, respond to some comments and I am out.