ONE ON ONE: Pascal on multi tasking ,God, talent and luck

Saturday February 27 2016

'Prey and Pray' actor Pascal Tokodi. PHOTO|

'Prey and Pray' actor Pascal Tokodi. PHOTO| COURTESY 

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You are quite the ‘busy bee’ — you sing, act and find time for music competitions...

If you really love what you do, you’ll find a way to balance everything. It’s hard but I have to. I don’t know how I do it but it happens.


When did the acting bug bite?

In high school; I guess it’s paying off now. There was this director called Marcos, he helped me a lot. He saw me when I was in Form Three and after that I knew that this was what I wanted to do. At the

time, I fused both acting and singing.


Did that help a lot, when you went into the musical show ‘Groove Theory’?

Very much, because it was something I knew beforehand. So when the director tells me something, I already have a sense of what to do.


So you didn’t need a lot direction?

No, not to sound smug — but I just needed a little polishing.


At 22, you have landed roles in ‘Makutano Junction’, ‘Groove Theory’ and ‘Prey and Pray’. How did you score all these when there are actors older than you out there still struggling?

I don’t know, but it’s God first, talent and luck.


What does luck have to do with it?

When you find yourself competing for a role with someone and, out of the blue, they drop out, that’s luck.


In all the three roles that you have played, is there any that hits close to home?

Groove Theory, I found it very easy because it’s like playing me. I’m jovial, I’m not a sombre mood kind of guy... and sombre is a word, right? (Laughs)


So what would make you get in an unhappy situation, say in a fight?

I’ll use my words to get out of it.


You’ll talk someone to death?

I’ll confuse you with my words, I’ll scare you by talking too much.


For real though, what would make you get into a scuffle?

If someone abuses my mum, or anyone close to my heart, we would have a problem.


In ‘Prey and Pray’, your character Isaac allegedly has a baby. If in real life that happened, what would be your immediate reaction?

(Sighs) kids are a blessing. I’m a bit comfortable now so I can take care of the child. And we are speaking hypothetically, right? (Laughs)


Do you feel acting has brought you fame, and is it good for your career?

To be honest, if  only I could sing and act without the fame... because it is a bit distracting. For most actors, it gets into their heads and, if you don’t have the right people close to you, it might backfire.

That’s why I hang out with people who’ve been there from the beginning. And I’m not really that famous. I just get the “I’ve seen you somewhere” look. Celebrities are in Hollywood.


Isn’t there anyone you consider a celebrity in Kenya?

We have popular people in Kenya, celebrities are followed by paparazzi all the time.


You were nominated for a Kalasha in 2014

I was 21 then; I’m turning 23 on April 21 — but it felt really great. I felt appreciated, like someone noticed what I was doing and I was on the right track, and still are. I hope I get nominated again and win next time.


Do you get the opportunity to choose your roles?

For most of the shows that I’ve got, I’m given a character bible and I chose which role fits me. Sometimes I challenge myself to do something different, like in Prey and Pray.


So that’s not even close to Pascal the person?

I have my serious moments, in the show my character is always in some situation. I should have a conversation with the script writer (laughs). No, I’m just kidding. It’s a good role; I love it.


You’ve said before that you have a bad memory with names. How do you memorise scripts?

I’ve no idea. I’m good with faces though.


Does that get you into awkward situations when you don’t remember people’s names?

A lot of times, especially when I meet a woman and I’m like. ‘Hi you, it’s been a long time,’ and I’m trying to stall to remember her name. Instead of asking, I’ll give her my phone and tell her to key in her

contacts. Or if I’m with a friend, I’ll tell them to introduce themselves to each other.


DJ Pinye says that, by the end of the year, you will be the biggest musical act in Kenya. Does that put pressure on you?

That’s encouragement, that’s setting a target. If I see it as pressure or a challenge, I won’t get there. Plus, I have someone legendary in my corner, so I feel safe. But I don’t want to let him down. With that at the back of my mind, it makes me conscious of everything I do and I know I won’t disappoint him.


You released ‘Usiniache’ last year. Was that from personal experience?

I was singing on behalf of a friend, I’m that kind of a friend. However, it might or might not have been about me.


Would you beg a girl not to leave you?

If it was my fault, yes I would, because if I’m with her then clearly she is the one and I wouldn’t want to wrong her.


You are about to launch a new song and video called ‘Sitaki’.

I will be launching it next week. It’s a very good video. I saw a sneak preview and I can’t wait. This is going to be my first ever music video.


Are you nervous?

Very, but I’m doing this for me. I’m happy with the song and the video and I hope everybody will feel the same way. But whatever the case, I’m happy.


If you were to play anyone in Kenya, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would play Pinye.


Are you saying that because he is your mentor?

He’s had more than 20 years in the industry and to sustain a name for that long…


You came third in the music competition ‘Tecno Own the Stage’. What did you spend your winnings on?

My dream is to open a studio, so I’m setting up that goal and I’m looking forward to invest because one million shillings is not a huge amount of money. It could disappear by just sneezing.


Or by buying friends drinks.

I don’t party and I don’t go to clubs. It’s not my scene.


What’s the meaning of your second name?

It’s a unique name; it’s a conversation starter: ‘What’s your name? Pascal Lpesinoi. I’m sorry, what?’

Anyway, I’m sure it means something like warrior or superman, but let me confirm that first? But Leng’uro is the family name and Tokodi is a name I was given by my uncle before I was born. I’m sure it

has a meaning as well.


Are you dating anyone?

Not right now, I believe in giving a woman 100 per cent, not 90 per cent of my time. I’m very bad at multi-tasking. I don’t even have time for friends.

I’m busy recording and I’m trying to build something that will last for life. Most of my friends understand that. But some people call me a snob since I became a millionaire (laughs).

They don’t know that the cash has to be taxed, so I’m not even a millionaire. There are guys who don’t understand that life changes.


Since you don’t have time to date, do you flirt?

No. Okay, yes; but it’s not really flirting — it’s just keeping the conversation going so that I don’t get bored, and you remember me.


Have you been star-struck by any actor?

From Makutano Junction, have you seen the legends in that programme? Ken Ambani, Mr Tembo from Tahidi... I was shocked when I was cast, especially during the read throughs.

I recall sitting there looking at those guys wondering who I was going to take a selfie with. That was my first television show after high school in 2012.


How did you land that?

We were seven guys in the auditions and I got the role. I remember when I got the call I was in a matatu going back home. It was a loud matatu so I tried to get the driver to lower the volume. I tried not to

seem too get excited when I was told that I got the role. I couldn’t contain myself when I got home.


Going forward, is your focus on the small or big screen?

If I like a role, I’ll play it; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a movie or a series. It’s about the challenge. As an actor, you look for something that 10 years from now you can say, “I killed it in that role.”


Can you speak Samburu?

I’m learning; I understand it and can incorporate a few words here and there, then I switch to English and Kiswahili.