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How it started vs how it's going: Malik Lemmy 'Govi'

 Malik Lemmy aka Govi

When he's preparing for a day on set, Malik Lemuel Mbelle has to take time for himself. It's a serene moment that he says "clears his soul."

"On that day, I won't use my phone too much, I will listen to calming music. I like to enter on set with my soul clear. If it's not clear, someone can tell that you are just acting."

The 23-year-old actor has some wise words about the art of his craft, adding, "I always say that the performer's ability is through the eyes. The eyes don't lie."

He has been doing this his whole life, having amassed a wealth of experience. It's his "thing"; his talent and his passion.

The actor remembers his first acting job fondly.

"I'm still conflicted whether this is my 17th or 18th year in the industry because I think I joined Makutano Junction in 2005. My mum insists that it's 2006. I was either five or six."

The series premiered in 2006, and a five-year-old Malik got to act alongside stars like Raymond Ofula, Regina Re, Charles Ouda and other renowned personalities.

"One morning, my mum took me to Limuru, a place called Green Acres, that's where Makutano Junction was being shot. I met big actors, the likes of Ojiambo Ainea, Raymond Ofula. I had watched these guys on TV and I felt they were legends in our industry," Malik says.

He played the role of a street child for a few episodes, impressing the director who told him that he will be a star one day. At this tender age, his eloquence and confidence warmed the hearts of castmates and directors.

It also helped that he was born into a family of actors - his mother is an actor, director and producer, and she has shown him and his sister all the ropes for building a successful TV and film career.

He tells us about how Machachari came about. Playing the character Govi, a calm and collected child who solved problems, Malik was able to grow his brand and become a household name.

In doing so, he would spend his Primary School years adjusting to the new-found fame.

"Tyler Mbaya and I had met on the Makutano Junction set. My mum was already on Mother In Law. We started shooting the pilots once the other youth were cast, and it was pitched to Citizen TV," he says of the time following his passed audition, adding, "That's how Machachari was born."

The show was finally picked up in 2010, and it premiered on the station.

"When the show started, I was in Class 4. The teachers slowly began to recognize me as the actor they had started seeing on screen," Malik says.

He adds: "After the show ran for some time, I couldn't hide it any more, and people recognised me in school and everywhere I went."

It was a hugely successful project for Malik and his Machachari colleagues, as the show attained a loyal, countrywide fanbase.

They would go ahead to win awards and grace the covers of magazines, as well as secure other deals that would catapult them to the top of their game.

"I had just changed schools during that time," he says.

"There, I found that I was already famous, we were so well known, having had a great year with wins at Chaguo La Teeniez and features on Magazines like Insyder, which were big at the time, especially in schools."

Malik adds: "When I was new they were shouting my onscreen name, 'Govi! Govi!' and it was a whole new experience. It was a bigger school with many more pupils coming from diverse backgrounds. The teachers had to calm students down a lot in the beginning."

But even as he got more famous, it did not go to his head.

 Tyler Mbaya and Malik. [Facebook]

He says that he was brought up in a family that grounds him in humility, faith and love of Christ.

The actor is serious about his faith, often mentioning his love for religion and the importance of having God in one's life.

He notes that although the fame did not change him, there was a degree of unease that came with it.

"There is that anxiety that comes with fame, the pressure to always look your best, to change how you talk, walk, etc. because all eyes are on you. But I never really changed how I viewed life. I was making some money, but I remained humble."

Speaking about the success of Machachari, Malik says opportunities came knocking after the series. From commercials to informercials to film roles, he did it all.

"In 2008, we did Kid's Festival, one of the biggest ones that Churchill has ever hosted. It had a capacity of 40,000. I was also part of a Blueband campaign that drove major numbers."

In 2011, the actor was a brand ambassador for Dettol, and years later, featured alongside other stars on the promotional billboard for Two Rivers Mall as it opened its doors.

"I quit my job at Machachari in 2019. I took a break and got some rest, but in hindsight, one shouldn't quit without really thinking it through or knowing what they will be doing next," he says.

"Ka anxiety na depression kanaweza kuchapa and you might feel low."

Malik joined university in September 2020, where he is pursuing International Relations.

Through with the break, he jumped back into acting by taking a role on a show called Kina in October that year.

"After Kina, doors opened up. There was a show called Kutu, it won Kalasha Awards 2021. In many of those, I played the lead role. I was also on Mawimbi in 2022- it hasn't premiered in Kenya yet but it actually premiered in Zanzibar last week. And it won Zanzibar Film Festival. After that, I did Pepeta."

The actor plays Dimore on the Showmax show Pepeta, where he stars alongside actors Lwanda Jawar, Brahim Ouma and others.

Here, his soccer skills shine through, and so does his diversity.

"Based on a real-life story, Pepeta tells the story of Junior, a 17-year-old talented footballer torn between the thrills of crime and the promises of soccer," IMDB describes the series.

The actor is adventurous, with a taste for strenuous swims in the ocean and mountain hikes. Soccer is another of his passions- he played it throughout his childhood and still plays it to date.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Malik KING (@malik_lemmy)

"I was in Malindi shooting Mawimbi, then I got a call from a casting director called Kevin Ogolla. He was like 'bro, there is a series coming up, and I want you to audition for this and this character'. He is someone who had followed me for a while and knew about my soccer skills and character," Malik said about the casting process.

He shot an audition tape while in Malindi, and later, after sending in clips of what he could do on the football field, secured the role.

"We started the journey, and I did the project for 75 days. By the time I was done, I was just like, God is amazing. I think Pepeta is one of the biggest things to come out of kenya."

Despite his history in acting, Malik is just getting started. He is running his own production company, Cheko Saba Productions and working on content creation, promising fans something new coming on YouTube. He's also keen to take on more challenging roles and grow as an actor.

"It means seven laughs. My mum came up with it then she paused in 2014 and I took over. I felt it was a sleeping giant. It has the potential to do a lot. The people I work with are usually young, fresh and dope," he says.

"The goal is to ensure that we bring awareness that youth can be exemplary filmmakers as well as bridge the gap between the young and the old. Watu wasichukiane. So that the older generation don't think of their juniors as entitled, and that the youth may also listen to the wise words of their seniors.

He advises aspiring actors to maintain their own identities, perfect their craft and take advantage of social media to build their brands.

Now that he's not shooting at the moment, Malik can take that much-needed break, and turn his attention to some of the other loves of his life, like music, soccer and education.

He not only uses music as a calming tool ahead of shoot days, but he also makes it.

"I'm a huge fan of music. Mimi ni myoung but I'm an old head when it comes to music. Kina kalamashaka, Ukoo Flani. I grew up in South B, South C and Imara Daima, which I'd say are entertainment hubs in Nairobi," Malik says.

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A post shared by Malik KING (@malik_lemmy)

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