THE “BLACK CAT” OF THE ACTING INDUSTRY: ROY OGOLLA
The 26-year old Roy Ogolla Kohadha, an artist by profession, is said to be the “black cat” of the Film and T.V industry whereby his views and opinions have landed him into trouble not only once or twice but on several occasions. Numerous times, he has been kicked out of the group “Kenya Film and TV Stakeholders” for speaking out. Producers and Directors have Black Listed him and on the other side, he has been perceived by fellow actors as an activist and many fear or do not want to be associated with him. To the bold like him, you can term him the Kenyan acting Martin Luther King as he champions the needs and echoes the voices of actors and most importantly, he speaks out his mind. Some would say, he is that kind of person who does not know when to stop talking nor express himself. Others might say he is misjudged and misunderstood. He speaks for the voiceless and most Kenyan actors who are afraid to openly speak about the issues affecting their trade. He is a double sided coin and actors.co.ke tossed it to see whether we will be lucky to get the tail or if we will meet the head that is synonymous with Roy Ogolla.
How long have you been in the industry and what projects have you undertaken?
Roy: I have been acting professionally since 2005 but my passion for acting goes way back in 1996 when I was 10 years old where I did my first play at the Kenya National Theater with the help of my brother The Late Lenny Ogolla who introduced me to theatre. I have done dozens of plays whereby I started off with set books then later on I did plays with the likes of Heartstrings Theatre, Pambazuka headed by Charles Bukeko and Culture Spill Theatre group. On TV, I have featured in Higher Learning Season 1 and 2, The Team and on movies I have featured in Faith Happens (American-Kenyan Initiative), Africa Mwanamu (German-Kenyan Initiative), Following Jesus and Africa Making The Video MTV Challenge for Wahu and Bobby Wine and winning the challenge. Behind the camera, I have shot 2 movies in Kakuma Refugee camp and one film got a Kalasha nomination for best supporting actress.
Tell us a bit about Roy?
Roy: I am a humble hardworking guy who stands for what he believes in.
The most challenging role you have ever done?
Roy: It was when I was given a role in Higher Learning and after 2 weeks of practicing, on the day of the shoot, the script was changed and I had to improvise. All in all I nailed it and up to date, I think that has to be one of the best scenes in Higher Learning where a student leader was being tear-gassed.
Roy Ogolla is known to be a black cat in the acting and film industry, how do you react to that?
Roy: People say that I am always controversial but they mistake that with being realistic. Ignorance has made people not to want to know or be told truth. For instance, we as the stakeholders of this industry, we always say that we want to support the local film industry but when we go for forums, producers decide to take over leaving out the actor who is the backbone of the production. This can be reflected whereby, actors are being paid peanuts as little as ksh5,000. I am not an activist but I love the truth whether you are my friend or not and I am a honest person who says what it is as it is. I had an issue with the show Higher Learning whereby they did not pay me and I threatened to sue them because it is my right and then after that scandal I got blacklisted from the show because it was said that “I am difficult to work with”. That even resulted to people not working with me not because I am a bad actor but because “I am difficult to work with.” I use Facebook as a platform to give out views and opinions concerning actors welfare based on the truth and nothing but the truth and eventually it turns out that Roy is a pessimist and always makes noise. Back in 2010 during the referendum, the Ministry of culture called on artist to give their views and ideas on the culture chapter of the constitution. Very few showed up and the issue was scrapped out. A whole chapter was cut out that could have shaped the art industry in Kenya. We as artists were not united and still are not till now. When I was vibrant about it, I was told that art can not be defined and there was no need for the meet up. I have always wanted producers to walk with actors through the journey together unlike what we see that after 1 season, a producer buys a mansion in Karen and drives a Benz where else the actor is struggling to get bus fare. I would not complain if a producer bought a house in Karen and on the other hand, the actor who lived in Dandora where he paid rent for 1000 to a house in Embakasi that costs 20,000 in rent. Back in 2005 I was being paid 5000 per day for a shoot and I was quite young in the industry, come down in 2012, you call me up for a role which pays 2000 per day, that does not make sense because after 7 years in the industry, it seems there is no growth at all. So to those who blacklisted me, I appreciated and actually it is more of blessings in disguise because I have experienced growth and new doors being opened for me. What I would like to tell people is that I am not difficult to work with but I am always transparent about things. And to all those who do not want to work with me because it is said “I am difficult to work with,” it is your loss because I believe I am good at what I do.
What would you like to tell producers out there?
Roy: I always work with three principles and I would urge them to follow them which are the 3 R’s. Roles, Respect and Revenue. Give actors Roles and then during production there should be Respect between the producers and actors both ways and together let us make Revenue.
Advice to actors out there?
Roy: It is high time we stop living in producers’ shadows and stand for what is right and speak out. I am not saying actors should start disrespecting producers, but should never fear to speak the truth and being transparent. We need to stand united and we need to speak. I appreciate the work actors.co.ke is doing in trying to bring the actors together into one forum. A forum that is also not being used as it should be as I only see a handful of actors participating in the discussions there. Actors need to overcome that fear of not calling crap for what it is. We need to own our industry because without us, what will the producers shoot?
Hopes for the industry?
Roy: I hope one day that art will be come a well paying and respected job. I have a daughter called Valerie who seems to show interests in arts and I would like to pave the way for her through the help of other actors so that when she grows up, all the challenges in the art would be a thing of the past and people would perceive art as a min stream job. She is the reason why I fight so hard.
See Roy in action below in a preview of Higher Learning