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From upcoming to 'talk to my manager: The life cycle of Kenyan celebrities

News
 A collage of Azziad, Mustafa, Huddah and Nyashinski.

This is how it all starts. 

He walks into the newsroom, timid. He is on the heels of a more established artiste who has come to do another media tour of his latest hit.

The upcoming artiste gets introduced as the ‘one to watch’, and he beams, trying to act right in his first media engagement. 

As the established artiste gets on with the interview with verve and a pinch of arrogance, the upcoming artiste nods, and chips in whenever he can. He does not have much content, but he believes in the dream. 

He gives a brief story; he started singing or rapping in Sunday school but had to clear school first. But now that he is done, he is ready to follow his dreams. His mentors? The established artiste he came with, for one, Tupac, Dave Chappele and E-sir.

Support me

The ‘woiyee’ phase, this is the celebrity at their humblest. It is a short period that eventually ends. 

Every celebrity has had this period, where family, relatives, schoolmates, and social media friends are constantly bombarded with links to songs, skits, covers of other artistes’ hits, and WhatsApp groups formed to fundraise for the next studio session, video, print merchandise, and fare to attend an event. 

For upcoming artistes with celebrity parents, like the ‘talented’ daughter of a prominent politician, media connections are roped in to push the dream. This includes invites to their home to watch her play the piano.

Talk of town

And it comes with numerous appearances on lists like ‘The hottest comedian in the 254’ or ‘The hottest stars under 20’. It also comes with top gigs, more collaborations and award nominations. 

Instagram posts pick up likes to the thousands, and their every word is law. It is this period when every post becomes a blog post with headlines like ‘Celebrity X buys a new car’ just by them standing next to a car.

Trio Mio’s mum, Irma, explained in an interview how they have tried to manage the expectation on the talented teen and to try to cut out the noise from his DM, which includes ladies ready to get jiggy with the Cheza Kama Wewe star.

Talk to my manager

Kiburi or arrogance is the highlight here.

They no longer pick up calls from journalists, nor answer WhatsApp messages. It is the age of grey ticks and when they do pick up or chat, redirect you to a certain manager who bellies the same arrogance. Celebrities prefer event organisers and brand managers. It is all about gigs and endorsement deals. Send 10 questions to the manager and that would be the end of the story. The celebrity is ever busy or ‘out of town’ at the same time that he is posting images of being in town.

They start asking for airplane tickets for gigs in Naivasha and hot face towels for celebrity appearances in Mombasa. They can even afford to pick up beef with other celebrities they do not like.  

It is this phase that made one of our most controversial showbiz personalities tell a fan ‘Google me!’

“I want a DNA test” and other scandals

With fame comes great responsibility, and most celebrities struggle with it. Children born out of wedlock, cheating on partners, separation from partners, backbiting and breaking up with people who held them when they were nothing, and organising sexcapades on DMs, here or in Qatar. Just check BNN. 

This stage becomes a push and pull between celebrities using friends in the media to cleanse their images, and partners using the same media to expose the celebrities’ ways. Apologies are posted on Instagram, and vacations are planned to settle marital differences. 

It stops being about their art, craft, or grit, and becomes about “Why is Willy trending?” 

Kenyans don’t support us

It always comes down to this. 

From the time they stepped in for their first media engagement, to getting gigs from promoters eager to have them on their roster, to Kenyans from all walks subscribing to their YouTube channels or to Skiza tunes to get the freshest local jams, celebrities still feel we do not love them as we should.

Interestingly, it is never the upcoming artistes who complain but those who have benefitted from the thriving showbiz industry that has helped many to become household names.

But this phase usually signals the beginning of the end, when Kenyans have moved on from a particular celebrity in the quest to find the next best thing. It is the cycle of life. It is not hate.

I’m making a comeback

This is usually the last and saddest phase of a celebrity’s showbiz life. They appear in half-assed skits with upcoming comedians or drop lame lines in feature songs.

In our line of work, this is usually a serious come down from the difficult moments of trying to access celebrities to having them bombard your WhatsApp with ‘hi’s’ and ‘niajes’ that are nothing but hot air. 

The public respectfully refers to them as ‘legends’ or ‘veterans’ and they get gigs that pay as much as when they started in seedy joints when others are headlining New Year’s Eve parties.

This is the end. The smart ones move to the corporate world or resign to running their businesses. 

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