He describes himself as an actor, MC, comic, writer, the French fries’ whisperer and a radio host. But just who is Nick Ndeda? Hilary Kimuyu finds out.
What made you drop out of campus?
School has never really been my cup of tea. I dropped out when I was on my third year final semester. I would love to go back, but not do the same thing. I was studying journalism and psychology but the journalism was so that I could do TV, and the TV was so that I could act. Psychology is because I like reading.
Why the motivation to do what you do?
Money! But what is cool is that everything that I do happened because of another action. I started off as an actor, and I had a brother who wanted to be a radio presenter and I took him for an audition and unfortunately for him, I got the job. As an MC, it was also another unfortunate coincidence. I went for Project Fame and the host of the night might have had one too many and I was asked to step in. On being a writer, it was because I have always loved stories. The reason why I started writing was because the stuff I was seeing was not pleasing locally. It did not excite me much. If you can write a composition, writing a script can’t be that hard? So I just tried.
How was your first time on stage?
I think I was in Form Two and the only reason I got the part was because someone somewhere messed up. I was an introvert as a kid. I was very shy. I schooled at Highway Secondary and there was an audition for the drama festival. Because of my being shy, I said to myself, let me do a crowd scene and see what happens. One of the lead actors who was in Form Four quit. As the tallest student, I was called to replace him. My brother laughed at me when he learnt I was picked for major role and I had to prove my brother wrong.
So what happened?
I went ahead and played the main character in a play called Drums of a Sad Tomorrow and I won the runner up during the drama festivals 2001. I never looked back.
Did the acting pick up after school?
No! I auditioned for a year and half and I was never picked for anything. In high school, I used to tell myself that once I’m done with school, all would be good. Boy was I wrong. I even joined Alliance Francaise so that I can get to know about any auditions. My parents even gave me an ultimatum to go back to school and give up on the dream. Then I saw a poster of some audition of a Shakespeare show and I told myself ‘this is it’, and I got it. After that play, I was getting roles coming my way.
What was your first on-screen show?
That was NTV’s Higher Learning in 2010. It was another stroke of luck that got me the role. The role had already been cast to someone else and then the director changed his mind as he was not convinced with that person and he chose me and this was very last minute. After the first season, the writers of the show decided to take the show in a different way and I ended up being the main actor for a few seasons.
You met Lupita Nyong’o on one of your casting... I had to go through a six-part audition in which she was a part of. This was during the second season of Shuga. So the last day we were told to rap. I was like after all the acting I have done, it comes down to rapping? I gave it my all and Lupita was really impressed.
Jacob's Cross, how did that come about?
The same production company that did Shuga was also behind the show from South Africa and they approached me.
Now for how you made it to radio?
I will tell you one thing, if it wasn’t for my brother Jeremy Odhiambo, I wouldn’t be on the airwaves. He told me to accompany him for a radio audition at Homeboyz Radio and I had nothing to do. So after hours of queuing, it was his turn. So I left the line and the ushers were like ‘where are you going? You stood up on the line for hours you might as well try.’ I did and just like that, I got it and he didn’t.
How many radio stations have you worked for and why the many changes?
After three years with HBR, I moved to Hot 96 because I wanted another challenge and different genre of music. After that I had to go to South Africa for Jacob Crossing. So when I came back I got a call from someone who told me that he hadn’t heard me on radio and had an opportunity for me and that is how I ended up at Xfm. I have been doing X Breakfast for five years now.
You’re the lead actor in '18 Hours'...
It is a cool script. Loosely based on a true story about a paramedic who tried his best to save a dying casualty. I play this rookie called Zack. His first actual case is a road accident. My part was tough, because I had to learn step by step on how to administer and attend to a casualty patient. Shout out to the entire team.
What did you learn?
I learned that with paramedics, there is no luxury of any mistake. It is a calling. You can never have any distraction. It felt like in every move I made, it was being judged.
Married or dating?
Not married but I have been dating for three years going into four now. Muthoni Gitau, she is a creative spirit. No children but we have two cats. I love this woman and hope to get married soon.