KENYA ACTORS GUILD BORN
In 2008 some veteran Kenyan actors, among them Lupita Nyong’o, Peter King Mwania and Elly Omukubi , set out to establish the Kenya Actors Guild (KAG). The guild was registered under the Societies Act to look into Kenyan actors’ welfare but due to several issues, among them unfortunately the lack of commitment from the actors themselves, the guild never materialised.
Peter King giving a speech
However four years down the line and Kenyan actors have come to recognise the importance of a guild and 26th October 2012 saw actors in Kenya congregate at the Kenya National Theatre to re-launch the Kenyan Actors Guild.
Actors worldwide are identified and protected by Guilds. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG now known as SAG-AFTRA after merging with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) being the most popular guild in the world.
Actors’ guilds play an important role in the theatre and film industry by protecting actors from exploitation and generally regulating the industry. A good number of Kenyan actors have lost out on international acting roles, not because they are not talented enough but simply because they do not belong to a guild or any organised bodies.
Gerald Langiri (also acting Executive Director of the Guild), a dedicated Kenyan actor who is not just driven by the power to flourish in his acting career but also has a great passion to revolutionise the film industry in the country, has been a leading player in reviving the Kenyan Actors Guild. He is the founder of www.actors.co.ke a forum that seeks to unite actors and keep them informed whilst marketing them.
At the KAG launch Gerald Langiri pointed out that in the past Kenyan actors didn’t understand the importance of a guild, or were simply afraid of its power.
Peter King (the current chairman of KAG), reacting to an experience narrated to those present by a renowned actress who was fired from a production when she disclosed to the producer that she was pregnant, also emphasised the benefits the guild would have to Kenyan actors. “Joyce Musoke's case is not isolated and the guild will offer legal representation to its members”, he said.
The film industry in Kenya is picking up tremendously and as the chairman of the Kenya Film Commission (KFC), Peter Mutie puts it during the guild launch “It’s only in Kenya where the people who bring money in the acting industry do not put it in their pockets”. The actors’ guild is therefore a great milestone in protecting actors’ interests.
With the re-birth of the actors’ guild, Kenyan actors can hopefully now be at par with the rest of actors in Africa who belong to guilds in their respective countries. These include the South African Guild of Actors (SAGA) and the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN).
Kenya’s film industry is rising and having its actors belong to a guild, will go a great way in ensuring that the interests of actors are protected and advanced.
Victor Muniafu, Chairman of Kenya Film and Television Producers Association (KFTPA) commended the actors for coming together and forming the guild. He also pointed out that a saccoo for industry stakeholders is being formed that will go a long way in helping filmmakers and actors get loans at very fair rates. He also urged KAG members to join KFTPA and make stronger bodies and forces of the industry to push it to greater heights.
Gerry Gitonga, the lawyer who facilitated the workshop said that the guild is a good start but actors should also now also start planning on having a union.
The KAG workshop saw about 30 actors show up for it some of them being A-list actors like Millicent Mugadi, Nice Githinji, Joyce Musoke, Sue Wanjiru, Gitau Ngogoyo, Gaston Wabomba, Peter Kawa,Mark kaiyare, Alexander Konstantaras plus many others. Charles Ouda and Mkamzee Mwatela who are currently on tour in the netherlands however still managed to send their managers to come represent them and pay their registration fees to join the guild.
All actors have been urged to come together and join the guild as most of the problems being faced by actors in this industry can actually be fixed if only actors unite.More Pictures here
Names and emails of the actors who showed up at the workshop was taken down and updates will be communicated via this website and through email. Please subscribe to email updates here. However, information on how to register and join the guild will be communicated and how member recruiting will take place. After which, members will be called in for elections to select the people who will run the guild and an AGM will follow after that.