Proudly East African: OJ as he is popularly known is part of the cast of the movie Bullion that is premiering at Speke Resort Munyonyo tomorrow. He talked to Edgar R. Batte about his experience on local and international film sets.
How and when did you get into film?
I started film in 2004. I had been doing professional stage acting, then got introduced to TV before I got into movies.
You have been part of the cast of Hollywood films like The Constant Gardener and First Grader. What was your experience like working on international sets?
Working on an international set is just awesome. You are given star treatment. You have your own personal assistant, your own tent and you order what you want. Many people think that you are just being spoilt but this helps you get to a level of concentration, which is needed on movie sets.
What makes you tick as an actor?
As they say, acting cannot be taught, it can only be made more effective through observation and experience. I do a lot of research on character as I am a method actor, for example in Noose of Gold I had to watch the Shaka Zulu series like 20 times and adapted the Zulu warrior character to a Kenyan Moran. I also use the method called dreamer, which you use to acquire another character all together.
Bullion is premiering this weekend and you are one of the lead actors. What was your experience like working on the Bullion set?
The experience was great. It was my first time in Uganda though I am a Samia and I had also heard about the country from my dad Lucas Ojiambo who is an alumni of Makerere University.
Uganda has a lot of talent and this could be seen on set. Though when we shot, then the main challenge was just like what we faced in Kenya, years ago, when we were more of stage actors and it was difficult to make the transition to screen.
The food was great and addictive. It was after a long time that I was tasting natural food and not GMO like what we have in Kenya. It was also good working with new actors though I had worked with Isaac Muwawu before and we were able to click immediately.
What do you do away from acting?
I am a businessman. I deal with supplies of hospital equipment, though my background training is pharmacy.
What is your comment on fellow Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o winning an Oscar?
It was a great moment though we knew it would come as she is a hardworking lady. She has also made us more visible as actors all over the world.
Do you know Lupita personally?
Yes I do. Knew her from the time she was 16.
Have you worked together?
Yes, we met when I had started my semi-professional acting at the Phoenix Players. She was 16 and acted as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Though in that play we mostly met back stage as I was preparing for another play, we later on acted in two or so plays. We also worked together on the Hollywood blockbuster Constant Gardener where I was acting and she was on the production team. From then on we have always been good friends. Many people will hate on her but people who know her know she goes all out as an actress and does her homework.
You have worked with Philip Luswata on Makutano Junction, what do you think of him as an actor and director?
Philip has always been great. From the time we met on the set of Makutano we clicked. The writers of Makutano always like pairing us against each other when they want comic relief. I have also worked with him on another movie called Toto Millionaire.
He is a great director and having studied drama, he knows what he exactly wants and will not let you off till you give him that. He has told me he has more projects which he wants us to work on together.
What were your outstanding moments while acting in Bullion?
It was a good experience to interact with the Uganda cast and I had never seen such a mad cast. Allan Tumusiime and Gerald Rutaro were just special. The ladies especially Veronica Tindi and Anne Kansiime were fun to be around. By then of course they were not as big as they are now. They had original jokes and I remember during our first lunch break, being a Kenyan I ordered for quarter chicken and one chapati. Kansiime laughed at me and asked if I was a bird. She reminded me that men are supposed to eat and have energy. I also loved the part in the movie where I had to wear the traditional Ugandan women attire (Gomesi) as a disguise.
What are you working on?
I am just from working on Hzelqom in Africa (as Jackson a rebel leader) directed by Ahmed Al-Gendi. It is a series which is rated as number one comedy series in the Middle East. I am also working on Sumu La Penzi, which is a Swahili soap on Africa Magic. I am also part of three other shows that are showing on M-net Kona, Noose of Gold and Demigods.
About the movie???????
Directed by: Philip Luswata
Starring: Allan Tumusiime, Ainea Ojiambo, Veronica Tindi, Isaac Muwawu, Gerald Rutaro, Juliana Kanyomozi
Premiering: Tomorrow, April 5.
Venue:Speke Resort Munyonyo
Entry fee: Shss30,000