ONE ON ONE WITH ROBERT AGENGO
A candid chat with Robert Agengo, one of the lead actors in the series 'KONA'.Valentine Zikie had a chance to catch up with the actor. Here is what the charming screen star had to say.
Q. 1. What are your full names and which names do you prefer for screen credits?
A. My names are Robert Agengo Ogone, I prefer Robert Agengo for credits.
Q. 2. How long have you been in the acting industry?
A. I am ten years old in the industry.
Q. 3. What was your family's initial reaction to your career choice?
A. My family has been supportive, though my mom expected me to further my education after high school. I always tell them I will, once I get the time. I think she (my mum) doesn't really see this as a full time job.
Q. 4. How would you describe a day in an actor's life on and off set?
A. An actors day on and off set is at some point confusing, because while on set I'm this character and off, set I'm this guy with this other life, but at the same time it's very interesting because I love acting and I enjoy the feedback.
Q. 5. Do you ever experience off-peak seasons in your work life, if so, how do you cope?
A. I experience off peak seasons in my work life a lot, I cope though. Savings and investments in productions help. I have a theatre group where I produce plays but admitedly it's also not the easiest situation.
Q. 6. Is acting a sufficient way of earning a living?
A. Acting is as good a job as any, say as a banker's or even the President's job. Indeed at times I say it's the best way to earn a living. I've been living off acting for ten years now, though I have to admit that at the beginning it was a hustle and a hard one at that, but even so nothing good comes easy.
Q. 7. Describe your journey as a performing artiste up until your present projects.
A. My journey through my career until now hasn't been very smooth. I started acting professionally in school texts, we travelled to many schools around the country under JICHO FOUR PRODUCTIONS, headed by Jasper Odak the Director who gave me my first role. Before that I had tried other groups and failed. I moved on and met Nelson Mbugua who gave me my first role at the KENYA NATIONAL THEATRE stage under UNICORN PRODUCTIONS. I worked with Unicorn for quite some time & got very good reviews in the press.
From Left to right: Lwanda Jawar, Abubaka Mwenda, Lenny Juma and Robert Agengo
Then I went on to work with HEARTSTRINGS KENYA, PHOENIX PLAYERS, MBALAMWEZIPLAYERS & FESTIVAL OF CREATIVE ARTS. I constantly appeared on posters and papers and this boosted my popularity. I used to live off stage plays, they didn't pay much but I learned a lot. At the time I also worked as an extra in MAKUTANO JUNCTION. I did this for three to four years before I got my first role on the same show. Then there was SHIKA PATA POTEA, CRAZY KENYAN and some Riverwood productions. I also made an appearance in AL IS ON PRODUCTIONS film in 2006.
Later I got a role in BBC's series TAKING THE FLAK, my first international contract. Then came the Danish movie LOST IN AFRICA[KIDNAPPET], I also did the casting for this one. In between all this I tried my hand at being a waiter, driving a taxi & a guitarist. Then came MALI, where I again worked with AL IS ON. I was not one of the main actors but it was the longest gig I had done at that point. I can't really remember all of the work I have done in the past. At the moment I'm working on KONA with FOOTPRINTS PRODUCTIONS and THE DIRECTOR'S TEAM for MNET. My next production is a secret but it will be out soon.
Q. 8. Which actors do you admire the most internationally and locally?
A. The actors I admire internationally are Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino & Anthony H. Locally: Conrad Makeni, Gilbert Lukhalia, Andrew Muthure, Jacky Nyaminde and Shiku Mburu.
Q. 9. What is your work ethic? (Actors are said to be rowdy, some don't keep time or go to work intoxicated. What are your work standards?)
A. I have to admit that I have had issues with time keeping which I'm working on. I believe in preparing
in advance ; always learning my lines and obeying whoever is in authority in every department.
Q. 10. How would you advice actors/artistes to spend their first big pay cheque?
A. When you get your first big pay check, invest .Take care of yourself and the people who need you and don't
forget to have fun as well, it's never that serious. It's said we live once but know that you also need to save for a rainy day.
Q. 11. Talk more about your current and future project e.g. the current role you are playing in the series Kona.
A.Currently I'm playing Lucky in KONA, a tough boxer with a warm personality who stands by the coach Jimmy, played by Lenny Juma. There is more if you tune in and watch. Future projects are still hush hush for now.
Q. 12. How does the nature of your profession affect your personal life and relationships?
A. Well the nature of my job affects my personal life and relationships due to the fact that I get alot attention which can be hard to handle. I always appreciate my fans who support what I do and I move on, that is my way of staying grounded and It works.
Q. 13. Is this a fulfilling career?
A. This is a very fulfilling career.
Interview by Valentine Ziki.