Man on a mission: Allan ‘Scoop’ Tumusiime is an artiste; a stage and movie actor, musician and photographer. He is married to an American film and theatre producer and actress who prefers to remain private. Realising his potential meant leaving Kampala for New York. Success is not guaranteed though as he shares in his story with EDGAR R. BATTE
When and how did you discover the musician in you?
I discovered my musical talent at Namasagali College while in Senior One. I was an understudy of a school production that had Benon Mugumbya of Swangz Avenue as the lead singer. I was always available whenever he was unavailable. However, I never really took it serious. I paid more attention to my other talents such as acting and presenting on television.
What earned you bearing in acting and as a TV presenter?
After taking part in the Coca Cola MTV VJ competitions in 2007 where I came third (Flavia Tumusiime was a finalist and came third), I decided the time was ripe to venture out. I took lead roles in two movies; Kiwani and Bullion and had an acting affiliation with Theatre Factory. Anyway, my love for music, reprised in 2011 when I decided to go to studio and play with beats. While there, I realised how much music was a part of me. I could ably create and write. I started working on a music career, slowly. I now have a whole album on iTunes and I am thinking of coming back to Uganda to do a second album.
You have just released a video of your song Sweet Love. Is it a single or off an album?
‘Sweet Love’ is a song off my album title ‘Preamble’ which is on iTunes and Amazon online platforms. Well, my kind of music is ‘feel good’ music. I like to do music that relates to how I feel at the time. I write my own music and it is produced by Andy Music at Buddies Productions. I hope to shoot some more videos in Uganda and in the United States.
Who are your biggest music consumers?
I sell online. However, I have a band and we have some night clubs such as Pianos and BB Kings, in New York. Some of these fans keep coming back.
How did you land the gigs?
Through musical friends. This business is really about networking and creating a relationship. I attend many live music events where I stay behind to connect with different artistes. It’s really about knowing what you want and going out to get it
What initially cultivated your love for music?
I have always been a fan of 1990s music of artistes like Boyz-2-Men, NSync, ShabaRanks, Bob Marley and other reggae artistes. I am a fan of reggae.
So on the first album, I did 12 tracks of mostly lovers’ rock. However, that is not going to determine what is going to be on my next album. My next album will be more of a mix-tape.
What themes or messages do you relay on the two albums?
I have done a song with my son and another inspired by my personal story. It is titled Rain on me which has enjoyed cross-over appeal by both white and black fans in the USA and Uganda. Generally, the whole album is about love but in all different directions.
Tell me more about the different directions you strand love as a major theme…
First, one talks about ‘love for a child’, another never giving up in life, another about missing my parents in my life. Another song is about love for a woman.
You are a first-time parent, and go on to sing about your son. Tell us about parenting and your son.
Well, he is a beautiful two-year-old. I want to be my son’s best friend. I don’t want to be too strict or too relaxed. I just want to be close to him; talk and listen to him. I just want to be there for him as a parent since I did not receive father’s love because my father died when I was a very young boy. So, I just want him to have me in his life in a strong way.
How do you split your roles with your wife in bringing him up?
I thought we were talking about music. Lol. Well, I try to be there whenever I can because you know I have to split time between work and spending time with him. He goes to daycare and, he spends time with his mother. But most of the weekend is papa time and during that time, I cook for him, take him out to play together, give him a bath, change his diaper, read a book for him and put to bed. That’s my weekend.
How do you compare life in Uganda and USA?
Well, I miss Uganda very much. Life is full in Uganda, if I can say. New York life is fun and all but it’s always about ‘onto the next one’ meaning it’s not easy to make friends unless they want something or you want something. Everyone here is working or thinking about themselves first. I live in Manhattan, a big city, so I don’t know about other Ugandans living elsewhere in US. It is a city of hustling hard but also party hard as well if you want to. It’s the capital of the world.
How hard or easy was it finding your bearing out there?
Not easy at all. It was like a rebirth. Imagine changing culture and all the life that you have ever known, to something totally new
Please explain to me more…
Besides the infrastructure, the mode of transportation of how to get to places or just simply knowing where you’re going to and how to get there. The culture is very different. New York City is like the capital city of the world where you find everyone from everywhere. This means everybody comes with their own different cultures. I found myself having to learn so many other different cultures.
So living in New York City, especially Manhattan, makes me feel like I have been to every part of the world because I have literally met almost everyone. Knowledge about the rest of the world is more precious than anything you can ever acquire. I can now speak Spanish and I am learning French. But like they say, East or West, home is always best. When I am in Uganda, I am always comfortable because I am home with my people and I love being around my people. I feel like I am around the same people like me.
You’re a photographer too. Have you faced racism in your line of service provision out there?
I get hired to shoot at events and I am also a film editor. That is what I studied at the Edit Center in Manhattan for Film, Editing and International Center for photography (ICP).
How long had you had interest in photography before undertaking the course?
I always loved good photos but did not know how to take them until I got here and realised I actually had a good eye. So, I decided to make it professional and learn the technical part of it.
What did you learn?
I learnt mostly about camera work, lighting, studio, composition, what lenses work best and when, editing of images, organisation in your folders or editing suit, copyrighting of images and then the business aspect of it.
What makes you stand out as a photographer?
You have to look the part. Always look good. Don’t show up at someone’s event dressed anyhow. If it is a wedding, wear a suit. Always deliver work to clients on time.
Allow us delve into your personality. Who is Allan away from the actor and artiste?
Well, I am a very outgoing person and very easy to relate to. I love to have a good time and when it is time to work, it is time to work. I am not easily fazed by other people’s words. I always do what I feel my heart wants to do and regardless of what somebody says or does, it will not stop me from being who I am acting the way I want to act.