Being a celebrity in Kenya is a real pain in the backside
A celebrity is a famous personality, especially in entertainment or sport. It is also the state of being well known and comes with a lot of public attention. In the backstreets, a celebrity is a person who struggles to become famous and after he has become famous hides behind big sunglasses-even at night. Other quarters associate celebrities with cash from lucrative endorsements or good pay.
Young people dream of being celebrities. A few get lucky and become kid celebrities. But most usually end up miserable later in life from inability to handle the crazy pressure that comes with it.
I had the acting bug as it runs in the family from my dad’s side. When I was young, I admired how children and young adults followed my late uncle, Joseph Anyonga, famous as Vitimbi’s “Othorong’ong’o Danger” when he came visiting in Buru Phase II.
Also read: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/entertainment/city-news/2001229566/women-should-marry-older-men-at-least-10-years-older
I escorted him to the bus stop to also get some of the attention. When I finally got a chance to act on television I came to realise that acting is just like any other job, the only difference being that many watch and ‘know’ you.
My friend and mentor Tonny Njuguna once told me to be careful as acting was akin to entering people’s houses without invitation so some will like or hate you for it. Then there was the time we were acting at the defunct Phoenix Player’s Theatre and director George Mungai advised us to separate the character in the script from ourselves. Getting to the streets while still wearing the character on stage meant people were not going to respect your work.
We were often told to remind fans that we had actual names from those of our characters.
Due to social media and smart phones, many young people have a chance of seeking instant fame by posting pictures and videos. Others are doing nudes. The youth should know once you post your picture on social media, you become a public figure and just like a celebrity you must have a thick skin to deal with the pressure and the criticism: The same people who built you are the same people who will one day tear you down. They are just feeding you for slaughter and this includes the media and the reason celebrities avoid them.
Just like art, there are people who will like your work and others who will hate it. Along with this comes cyber bullying.
I have been in the entertainment industry for over 30 years and one has to learn that even Jesus was not liked by everyone. Just why I ask the young whether they really want to be celebrities, to open their world to everyone. There are fans you will inspire and so you have to be on your best behavior.
American basketball great Michael Jordan was quoted saying, “If my example impresses you then, good, I should continue; if not then, I am not the person you should follow.” So let your followers have their choice, don’t force them to always like you as you allow room for criticism.
So, for those who want to be celebrities on television, film screens or on social media know that you will trend today and next week someone else will be trending. So be humble so that you don’t fall into depression.
I will repeat: If you are planning to be a celebrity through your work, just know what you are doing is a job like any other. The only difference is that you have an audience — so don’t let it get into your mango head!