Kenyans in Diaspora who are making it big in showbiz
When Lupita Nyong’o starred in the Shuga TV series and produced the documentary In My Genes, little recognition came her way. Seven years later the actor is internationally revered for her award-winning roles in blockbuster movies.
Kenyan film critics expressed their displeasure for the lack of support for our own and that it had to take Lupita to be celebrated abroad for the same to happen back home.
While the country went gaga over her fast rising acting career, there are yet other actors working hard in the international scene that the industry fails to take note of. These are actors who are playing lead, guest and uncredited roles in Pan-African and Hollywood films and TV series.
For instance little is known of Owiso Odera, one actor who has been building his profile in Hollywood since 2005. Owiso has played scores of roles in productions such as The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, Flashforward, NCIS: Los Angeles, Numb3rs, and recently notable he took up the significant role of Papa Tunde, a powerful witch in The Vampire Diaries’ spin-off The Originals. Meanwhile, Kenyan-based actor Nini Wacera is taking Nollywood scene by storm one role at a time. Nini currently stars in Desperate Housewives Africa, an African impression of the popular American comedy/drama flick Desperate Housewives shot in Nigeria.
Nini plays the character Ese De Souza, an African version of Bree Van de Kamp. The old hand has markedly acted in The White Maasai, Kona, Project Daddy and Dangerous Affair, .
Also making an impact in Nollywood is Lizz Njagah who has made a mark in Kenya and Nigeria. She has worked in TV series Makutano Junction and Saints, films House of Lungula, Veve, Fundi-mentals and Return of Lazarus — a Greco-Kenyan movie that won her Best Actress award at London Greek Film Festival. She considers her role as Tare Duke in Nigeria’s production Tinsel as her big break.
Belinda Owino, a Kenyan actress born in US performed in the films 13 Sins and Doonby. The 23-year-old continued to build her profile as a stunt performer and house servant in Django Unchained and with the role of Gemma in 2015’s Hateful Eight, both films by Quentin Tarantino. She has appeared in many Hollywood films although most of her roles are uncredited.
Edi Gathegi is known for his work on X-Men: First Class, Twilight, Gone Baby Gone, Nikita, Veronica Mars, Beauty, Beast, House, Proof and now TV crime drama Blacklist. The son of the soil has starred in 31 TV and film productions in Hollywood.
Benjamin Ochieng’ made an entry into Hollywood in 2003 with Tears of the Sun, a war film by well-regarded Antoine Fuqua, Kwame in 2008, Inception in 2010, Default in 2014 and recently starred in God’s Not Dead. This man who has branded himself as a Swahili speaker in Hollywood films will return with a sequel, God’s Not Dead 2 this year.
Finally, Chocolate Music signed artiste Victoria Kimani who is making her name for herself in Nigeria and mingling with Nigeria’s entertainment bigshots is also a reality star. Through her web series The Rise of Victoria Kimani, the feisty singer chronicles her musical journey in Nigeria.