Gerald Langiri
May 07 / 2012

31ST April 2012 marked the day that saw a publicly advertised and organized event to celebrate Kenyan actors.  Dubbed as the “crème de la crème of acting party”, the event doubled up as a charity event and the funds raised were to go to the FISA foundation. The event was organized by Filmbiz Africa magazine and actors.co.ke along side their sponsors. Filmbiz Africa had just launched their 4th edition titled “the crème de la crème of acting in Africa” which was the whole idea behind the party; to unite and celebrate Africa’s top notch actors from 5 different fast growing film nations namely: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana.

Whilst the actors and fans that showed up had their fun and called it a night, here are a few lessons that I learnt from this event:

  1. Rain and traffic are directly proportional

I do not know the theory behind it but Kenyan drivers seem to get crazy whenever it rains as witnessed from the traffic that will immediately pile up as soon as two drops of water hit the ground. A lot of people had confirmed and were expected to arrive at the event and they could not make it because of the stagnant traffic. Some guests were actually arriving at midnight due to traffic yet that was the time the event was in its final stages. This could have been the major factor contributing to the event not being full house as expected. Next time, let us check the weather patterns before organizing an event

  1. Actors still not celebrated. They also do not celebrate themselves.

It was meant to be a party for actors and apart from the handful of actors that showed up, so many actors did not make it to the event. For whatever reasons they may have had, how do you not show up for your own party and without any apologies? The masses of the public that was expected to show up also did not. I kept thinking if this was a party with musicians in the house, would it have gone much better than actors being in the same venue? Sadly I think the answer to that is yes. They say charity starts at home and it is sad that actors cannot come out and celebrate themselves and the public can also not come out to support actors in their endeavors. We want to whisper behind closed doors how we love actor A B C but when it comes down to showing that love, we are no where to be seen. Kenyan actors are still not celebrated as much for their craft and that should change.

  1. Media does not care about actors.

Several media houses showed interest in coming to cover this event. The interest however slowly diminished as soon as they were told no international actor would show up. Painful and sad to have heard these words from a journalist “if there are no Nigerian actors showing up, we are not coming to cover the event” True to their words, they did not show up begging the question, Kenyan actors do not deserve media publicity for their endeavors? Why do the media not give much thought to Kenyan actors? I might be harsh on this point as over the couple of months we have seen a few interviews on TV about one or two actors and plays being given publicity but I feel it is not as enough as it should be.

  1. Kenyan actors do not earn well enough

I wrote an article titled how much do Kenyan actors earn and it was evident that it is not much. Whilst one or two Kenyan actors can live a comfortable life out of acting alone, majority of actors need one or two other jobs to sustain themselves. Tickets for this event were going for Ksh 1000(ordinary), ksh 2000 (VIP) and ksh 3000(VVIP). To emphasize on this point, please remember it was a charity event as well. Yet, most actors wanted freebies and complimentary tickets to the event; after all, it was their party! I cannot blame them though, as an actor with the little that I earn, will I sacrifice ksh 3000 to get into an event? Probably not. However, I guess most people over-looked the charity part of this event and all they wanted to do was party. In the future, let us price events according to the people it is targeted for.

  1. Too many VIPs can run you losses

No profits were made and for a charity event, the ticket sales were not enough to fully pay the organization and pay for expenses like food and the rental price for the Skylux lounge and club where the event was hosted. Whilst the actors that featured in the Filmbiz Africa magazine were the special guests and were to be in VIP and VVIP areas which meant they were not to pay to attend the event, organizers thought it fit to invite other high profile actors to be in the list of VIP and VVIP in the hope that they would attract the crowds. Boy, were we wrong. The event ended up having more VIP and VVIPs than people who actually bought tickets. Free food for all and you can count the losses that followed after.

  1. Actors and a club do not mix

This is a simple lesson learnt. You do not hold an actors party in a club unless it is just a party we want to have. If there will be speeches and auctions and other activities to raise money even if it is for a worthy cause, hold it an environment where there is no alcohol and music. You can then take the party to the club.

  1. Do not underestimate the power of social media

Much of the marketing for this event was done through Facebook with one or two posters stuck on different locations in Nairobi. Approximately 13,000 people were invited and approximately 1000 people confirmed attendance on Facebook events.   We can blame the weather for the 1000 people not showing up as I counted approximately 300 people. It does however goes to show how powerful social media is in this day and age for individuals and businesses alike.

  1. Actors get along and are fun people to hang around.

When I joined the acting fraternity, there were stories being thrown around about how I should be careful when making friends with other actors because actors like to stab each other in the back in order to get ahead. Well, if what I witnessed at the party is anything to go by, I am here to say that actors are humans with emotions and depending on how you approach them, you will get the appropriate response in return. It was nice to see Mali and Lies that bind actors enjoying themselves despite rumors of them not getting along as someone stole someone else’s idea in the two programs. It is nice to know actors can rise above petty issues and actually have a good time together. More events involving actors should be arranged in order to not only know each other well as we are all colleagues but to strengthen the union that is the acting fraternity.

  1. Partnerships are necessary if we are to make it in this industry

Actors.co.ke was asked by Filmbiz Africa to run a poll early January to let the public and other actors select their favorite actors. The chosen actors ended up in the Filmbiz Africa magazine and thereafter came the party where the two organizations that are actors.co.ke and Filmbiz Africa did the marketing and overall organization of the event. Other film fraternities can borrow a leaf from this and should partner and work together in projects and activities in order to grow our film industry. We cannot do it individually and we still have a long way to go before reaching the levels other “woods” are.

A big thank you goes to the actors that showed up for the event, Gash studio, Filmbiz Africa Magazine and actors.co.ke for the gesture and we hope to hold many other events in the future where Kenyan actors can come together for a worthy cause.

Click here to view the pictures of the event.

Written by Gerald Langiri. 

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