The place is the National Youth Talent Academy in the leafy Karen suburbs. Acting class students are putting what they have learnt into practice.
Despite being pint-sized, one student stands out because of his distinctive voice and acting prowess. A section of students cheer him on as his lines effortlessly roll of his tongue. This is 23-year-old Kelvin Musyoka Matata doing what he does best.
|Budding actor Kelvin Matata|
When he takes to the stage, the upcoming actor, who curiously bears an uncanny resemblance to Nigeria’s pint-sized seasoned actor, Osito Iheme, doesn’t disappoint.
Like his body double, who he says people mistake him for, Matata is in his element when acting hilarious parts.
Indeed those who have watched him act agree that Matata is one of the rarest acting talents the country has ever produced.
Matata beat hundreds other budding actors to emerge tops during auditions to join the National Talent Academy in June last year, and now says he has his sights firmly fixed on securing an acting opportunity with a leading film production company.
“I have always believed that nothing is impossible so long as you are willing and determined to make the best out of life. As the saying goes, life is what you make it,” he says.
And it appears there is no stopping Matata, who features in a local movie, Bingu Lanyesha Moto, in which acts as a starving IDP.
He also comprised the cast in Helven, a short documentary film by Bob Thuku. The film, in which Matata plays Lucifer, is an imaginary story revolving around life in heaven and hell.
“At first I found it weird. But with time I managed to put everything in place. As an actor, I believe in adjusting to any role and bringing out its concept well in order to make the best of the script,” he says.
Born 23 years ago to Martin Matata and the late Domitila Muthina, Matata is the first child in a family of four.
His interest in acting begun when he was in Class Four at Itetani Primary School, Mbooni, where he led the school in drama.
“What kept me going was the fact that my family were very supportive of my career,” he recalls.
He says his first role was during a school play held on a Parents Day event.
As a student at Itetani High, he didn’t have much time to participate in his favourite co-curriculum activity, as the school paid more attention to academics. Even worse, Form Four students were not supposed to take part in any co-curricular activities.
But a year after completing his secondary school education, he was back to doing what he considers his passion – acting.
He joined St Mark Regional Centre in Embu in 2011 for training on acting for three months before leaving for Nairobi.
While in Nairobi, he attended an audition at Nairobi school in December 2011 and was among the few selected to join the Talent Academy in Feb 2012.
He has since successfully underwent a six-month training in acting, life skills and entrepreneurship and awarded a certificate.
Armed with the training, Matata now hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of the local actors who have made it big both in the local and international entertainment scenes.
The thespians also believes opportunities abound locally for up-and-coming actors as the entertainment industry has been growing in leaps and bounds in the recent past.
Located at the heart of the leafy Karen suburbs, the National Youth Talent Academy is funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund. The school admits students with talents in music, dance, film, theatre, football and volleyball.