Daniel Peter Weke is a young and stylish actor who got his big break in the series Mali. But life before the fame was everything but rosy. He spoke to Josephine Mosongo about his life and balancing acting and business
You are fashion forward, is it because of showbiz or does it just come naturally for you?
I’m surrounded by a lot of people in the fashion circle starting with my mother. My sister is my stylist and she has her own fashion house called House of Fatasha Gridd. She’s the one who has designed most of my current attire.
Would you ever do shirtless photoshoots?
No, I’m a ‘one Gigabyte’ man; I don’t have the body for it.
What is the first impression you want people to have of you when they meet you?
I just want people to know that I’m a realistic person; I’m not fake. Some people think I’m unapproachable though I don’t know why. Most of the fans I’ve interacted with however have come to realise I’m just a normal guy.
You started paying your own school fees in Form One? Why did you do that?
I was brought up by a single mother and really saw her struggle. I didn’t have a father figure so I had to grow up and mature fast, that meant I started doing odd jobs to earn some cash. So I decided to pay half of my school fees and my mom took care of the other half. That’s what I did up to university. Circumstances make you mature really fast.
My dad is half Ugandan and half Rwandese, my mother is Suba, I’m a cocktail (grins).
Are there things you feel you missed out on since you lacked a father figure?
Just the upbringing but what I’ve learnt so far is enough to make me continue my journey to being a better man.
You have several businesses...
I was a co-manager at Red Liquid, an events company, but I’m not there anymore. I started my own company called the Palette Décor and Designs, I also have a digital marketing company called Elite Brands.
How do you manage the two? Sounds like a lot of work.
I’m a very hands-on person. It takes a lot of planning, on occasions I’ve had to forego other deals.
You’ve said before that business pays you better than acting, why not let go of acting and concentrate on the more lucrative side?
Everything I do in my life, I’m in it to win it. When acting came along I tried it and it’s what got me here, so I’m still in it because I love it, I love television. It’s something I’m passionate about.
If all the fame disappeared right now, would you feel like you lost a part of yourself?
I think the fame has faded a bit, don’t you think? I’ve been off TV for quite some time but it hasn’t affected my dreams or passion and everything I want in the television industry. I’ve grown in both worlds, before I was famous, when I was a nobody life was still good. But when things shifted the level went up. If you’re not careful, all that comes with being in the spotlight might swallow you up. The downside of it is that you live your life according to what people think of you, some people think you are extra rich but when it comes down to your pocket, financially you can’t sustain that life. And that is what is happening to a lot of artistes.
Which celebrities have you met that you think are down to earth, authentic people?
I have never really thought about it. Most of them we just started out as friends. Brenda Wairimu is like my sister; she’s very down to earth, principled and knows what she wants.
How did you end up as Ebru’s co-host on The Edge 254?
Before ‘The Edge’ there was a show called ‘The Hangout’, I hosted the show for four months without pay. Then I left but they called me back and told me they had a new show. I also told them I wouldn’t audition for the show, ‘if you want to see what I’ve done, check it out online’. I got the job.
Was "Mali" your big break?
It was and I was lucky, I remember going for Mali’s audition and they thought I looked like the character Arthur. There were so many people auditioning for Mali, but I won them over at the audition when they asked me to hit on a girl. I was so nervous but I kissed her… yeah, got that. At the same time, there was an opportunity for the movie Shattered featuring Nigeria’s Rita Dominic and I even paid Sh300 to audition for as a deejay but at the end I chose Mali. Since then I’ve done several Mnet movies and another one called The Nairobians but I don’t know when it’s going to air. It was shot by Tosh from Nairobi Half Life. I now choose which projects I’ll take in acting.
You’re lucky; some people take whatever roles they get.
Scarcity creates demand, people in the industry need to realise that as brands they are assets and need to have value… that’s how Redsan has remained on top of the game. I know my value and I know how much work I put in.
When you endorse products do you just do it for the money or do you have to have a relationship with it?
It has to be relatable to my brand, right now you’ll not see me doing anything with any alcoholic brand because my fanbase is made up of young people whom I have to help nurture. The transition will come and my branding will change.
How old are you?
I’m below 30.
That’s not specific at all.
I’m 26 and I’m not single.
You are not shy when it comes to talking about your private life.
I’ve come to learn a few things. There was a time I didn’t want people to know that I was in a relationship and it got me into sticky situations; and then I revealed I’m in a relationship and it got even worse. We are both in the limelight and it’s hard but we are learning.
Where do you get the time to be active on all your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat?
I wake up at three in the morning to reply to everyone. Fans need to feel like they can reach you.
Why do you have two phones?
I actually have four. When I was coming up in the industry, I would give out my number to everyone but it came to haunt me. I thought there wouldn’t be any harm in giving out my number to every girl but I was wrong.
What surprised you the most about the industry then?
The number of girls who threw themselves at me. They would be like ‘Hi Daniel, can I take you out for coffee?’ all the time. But I never used to go.
You write a lot of quotes on your Instagram, give us one as a parting shot
Never perfect, always genuine and the best way to predict the future is to create it.