- He has been juggling many careers and excelling.
- He acts in three films, two TV shows and one advert annually.
- He’s currently working on an undisclosed project, terming it his best so far.
In the entertainment world, breaking into an unfamiliar ground and market can be a daunting task for any actor.
However, passion, hard work and enthusiasm have taken many young people to great heights, especially in arts.
Meet Douglas Muigai— a Kenyan-based multi-talented figure who has successfully juggled two very different careers.
By day, he is a dedicated engineer, and by night, he transforms into a villainous gangster actor.
Making of a star
Muigai was born in 1992 in Nairobi and spent most of his childhood in Kinoo, Central Kenya.
He jumped from one hobby to another as he tried to find what his heart wanted. In 2007, he found love in chess, weightlifting and athletics after joining Kijabe Boys High School to further his education.
Despite it all, Muigai’s heart yearned to become a movie star; he just needed a hand to hold him.
“I always wanted to be in movies but I never knew how until I joined college and got suggested for some student films,” Muigai opened up to Scholar Media Africa.
In 2011, he joined the prestigious Kenya Institute of Mass Communication to pursue a diploma in telecommunications engineering. Still, he continued pursuing his many hobbies and was named the best rugby kicker in his time at KIMC.
Moreover, Muigai was crowned the best chess player in all technical universities country-wide at the annual Kenya Technical Institutions Sports Association (KETISA) college games.
His co-curricular sporting activities informed his physique and it was during this time that he got his first break in acting.
His first foray into the world of acting was in 2013.
“My first film was a student film two years after I joined college and the experience was very enjoyable and the fact that I got paid for the role made it even better,” he says with an undying passion.
During this time, Muigai discloses that he took a couple of classes to hone his craft.
Juggling two careers
Muigai’s success is not just down to his talent, but also his ability to juggle two very different careers.
He has found a way to balance his two passions, and this is a testament to his discipline and work ethic.
“Somehow, both fields, even though somewhat different tend to sync. Acting gigs are seasonal so there are high and low seasons in between. However, I’ve always had a broadcast-related full-time job at any given time,” the award-winning actor states.
He believes that his engineering background syncs with acting roles as it helps him approach acting from a technical standpoint, allowing him to understand the production process better and work effectively with the crew.
After graduating from KIMC, Muigai took a two-year break in acting, at which he was working as a studio and broadcast engineer for MediaMax and later Standard Media’s KTN.
He then landed his first acting role as a bartender on Tuko Macho TV series, which aired on NTV.
In 2017, the actor landed a bigger role as a lead character in a Jumbo Jet Commercial.
At the onset of 2017, he went back to practicing engineering, landing a job as the head technician for the then newly-launched Ace TV and juggled between his passion and job.
Watu Wote for Oscars
Muigai takes pride in being part of an award-winning short film Watu Wote: All of Us, which was nominated as the best live action film by the American Film Academy.
“I played the role of a General Service Unit (GSU) officer which depicted the authority figures in the society while trying to break the stereotype that most Muslims are the ‘attackers’ because of their Somali background. I roughed them up but the Christians in the bus tried to protect them,” he speaks about the film.
He notes that the film was a major milestone in his career and has helped him keep an open mind in his day-to-day life.
The short film was in tribute to 28 people who Al-Shabaab terrorists had killed in a Mandera-bound bus attack at Elwak in 2015.
“The incident was unfortunate and it took me by surprise that it would get into very many competitions and festivals and garner those many accolades,” states the actor.
Watu Wote, however, lost in Los Angeles to Silent Child, a film about a 4-year-old deaf girl shot in rural Britain.
Competency is key
Muigai states that he has mastered his acts and that in a period of 7 years, he has lost count of the numerous projects he has done.
“Experience is key; we are at a time where what you bring to the table supersedes papers. Competency gets compensated,” the actor notes.
He averages his work annually at three films, two TV shows and one advert.
Presently, the actor is on a Netflix film called Safari which made its debut recently, where he acts as a corrupt poacher. He also prides himself in having acted in Next Meal, a TV Series, where he takes up the role of Jabali.
More importantly, he has mastered his role as a ‘gangster’ as his signature.
Scholar Media Africa inquired about the choice of roles, seeing that Muigai landed rather threatening roles.
“There is something called a ‘look’ and everyone has one; some have an ‘innocent girl next door look’, mine is a menacing one hence I get more gangster related roles,” the seasoned actor responds.
Muigai reveals that he is sometimes taken aback by his craft expertise because of how easily he plays this role, yet it is the direct opposite of who he is.
With the details of the project he has at hand undisclosed, Muigai terms it his ‘best performance yet’ in his career and cannot wait to unveil it!
His ultimate goal is to have memorable films and TV shows under his belt and to be counted among the outstanding actors in the industry.
“The goal is to be considered one of the best to ever do it; I know it’s doable,” he states enthusiastically.
Safari, his recent project, was featured on the worldwide video service provider Netflix in early April this year.
A shining example
Muigai’s dedication to his craft is unmatched and admirable and an inspiration to young talents out there who are struggling to balance their passions with their careers.
As a role model to young talents, the stunt man advises them to follow their passion and ask themselves whether they have what it takes to succeed.
“Most passion-related pursuits come with low reward and relatively many frustrations, many fall off the road and few get to the end; therefore the drive has to be intrinsic rather than being forced,” advises the seasoned villainous actor.
He encourages them to work hard and never give up, even when faced with obstacles. He knows firsthand that pursuing one’s dreams can be challenging.
“Booking regular quality work is still the biggest challenge in my career. Most film makers just want pilot characters to steer forward the plot then they are killed off making these roles very short and temporary. Also the Kenyan film awards have over the years lost their prestige, making it hard to submit oneself,” Muigai notes.
Overall, Muigai is a shining example of what can be achieved with hard work, dedication, and passion.
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As he continues to make his mark in the Kenyan film industry, we wish him all the best in his future endeavours; we can only expect great things from this multi-talented individual.