Lenana Kariba, 26, talks about his 'stumble into' acting, good roles, cheap roles and why a nice man is a creation of women's imagination.
Someone says you stumbled into acting...
Stumbled into acting. More or less. I got into drama club because all students had to be in a club in my high school, and drama was the least bad option among the clubs on offer. After school, I escorted a friend for auditions at Kenya National Theatre and ended up auditioning just for the sake after her insistence - but I got the role. So, stumbled is more like it.
Before that high school drama club stint, did you ever know that you could act?
When I was at St Christopher’s High School in Karen, I got into acting as a short-cut. I felt like ‘it can’t be that hard. You just memorise, recite and act out scenes.’ It turned out that I was good at it. Got one or two awards.
So acting wasn’t your childhood dream?
When I was young and watching movies as a kid, I knew that those things were not real. And somehow I felt that I could do them. But it never occurred to me that I would actually end up acting in future.
So what did you want to be when you grow up or that was for your father to decide?
My career plans as a child were unclear, but my father, unlike most fathers, was particular about only one thing; pick your own path, do your thing as long as you are good at it. So all of us, my two brothers and my sister had the liberty to chart our destiny.
Who else is in acting?
Eeh..you probably know some of them. Bamzigi- our first born- is a rapper and producer. My other brother, Kora, is a musician too. My sister too, had her stunt in music but she has slowed down due to other commitments.
Your parents must be artistes too then...
No. My father is an entrepreneur so was mum. My father does sing in the church choir though. Does that make him an artiste?
So after realising you could make a good actor, did you take any course to enhance your skills?
When I joined Daystar University in 2009 after my A-Levels to study Electronic Media and Marketing, all that was in my mind was; high school was fun but I need to go back to school, get a degree and get a real job.
So how did you end up where you are today?
At the end of 2009, a friend was going for auditions at Kenya National Theatre. She asked me to accompany her and I agreed. When she was done auditioning, she suggested that I try it out too. They called me two weeks later, saying I got the job.
How many auditions have you taken part in after this initial one?
So many. I can’t recall all of them. Got some, missed some. That is the way it goes.
Out of all the auditions that you took part in and didn’t get, which one did you feel bad missing??
That has got to be State House. I liked its script and concept but this a job like any other there are challenges too.
The best role you have played so far...
Doctor Max in ‘Saints.’ I hate hospitals yet I was playing a role that put me in that setting. Plus it was my first time on set and on screen, working with some of the people that I used to see on TV before.
The worst role so far?
I once played an assassin.
What are you working on now?
‘How to Find a Husband’. The story is about four women searching for husbands. But the most outstanding part is the imaginations women always have about men. They should know we have flaws, we are human beings. But that’s acting though.
Away from that, your parents must be proud of you..
I hope so.
Where will you be in ten years?
I don’t like that question. But just for your satisfaction, I will be at a better place than where I am now. Does that work? But one thing is for sure, I will still be an actor.
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