I don’t know how true this is, but rumor has it that Lupita Nyong’o ( or rather her marketing team and managers) refused for her to do an interview with a local newspaper in Kenya after winning her Oscar. The credible source working for this particular newspaper, says the reason given was: “When she was in Kenya, no one bothered about her and she was still doing amazing things. It was therefore insulting that they had to wait for her to go to Hollywood for them to start begging for interviews which she (her team) felt was wrong.”

In our conversation with this journalist, I asked him why doesn’t the kenyan media look for actors/artists to market locally and they have to wait to hear they have boarded a plane to go to other countries for them to start to bother getting to know them?

“Kenyan actors are afraid of publicity for some reason. It is like they fear being in the limelight opposed to musicians who at times even pay just to have their stories written in newspapers because they know the more they are known or talked about, the more people will want to listen to their music. Most actors in Kenya shy away from this or when they do agree, they don’t have the necessary basic marketing tools like good pictures that can be used in the newspapers. You rarely see them in events where journalists are. Please tell actors that journalists won’t come to them initially for stories unless they appear in a show that people will talk about a lot. Most of us journalists also rarely watch these programs on TV and we therefore don’t know these actors but they should find ways to market themselves 1st for us and create some interest for themselves before journalists come to them.”

Well, here is the thing I know for a fact and that is ,our media won’t come looking for you to market you if you don’t put in the effort to market yourself 1st and they will therefore go for stories that have already broken out and are being talked about. Running this website for example where I would like to receive stories from actors/filmmakers in the form of a press release (learn how to write one here) about what projects they are doing so that we can share and give light to, rarely happens.  So we are forced to go with stories that are within our circles or with stories that have broken out because we simply cannot know what each and every actor is doing and what projects are going on at a go.

So yes, while Lupita (again, if that story is true) has a right to say no to being interviewed by a Kenyan newspaper because they dint bother about her when she was in Kenya and had to wait for her to be a sensation in Hollywood for them to want to have a piece of her and claim her, I agree that media houses should put in more efforts to market actors in Kenya locally first and not wait for them to “Vuka boda”. Same goes for our audiences. Appreciate our actors, musicians and artists in general while they are at home and not when they have been claimed by other countries because it seems that kenyans will only appreciate you when you die or when you go to a foreign country and make it there.

However, ultimately, you the actor, musician and artists need to find ways on how you can market yourself. Don’t assume people are watching your show or listening to your music because you are an actor and musician and by default they should watch it. No! Competition is stiff and you need to make yourself big enough for them to want to know what show is this that this actor is in or which song has this guy produced. In other words, BE A STAR because that is how showbiz works.

Or is it true that Kenyan actors are afraid of publicity and dont see it’s importance?

By Gerald Langiri

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