William is a comedian, voice artist, emcee and actor, having recently been on stage in the theatrical history-inspired dramatisation, Too Early for Birds, and international hit drama, Sense 8.
1. How did you get into acting, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I took a gap year before I joined university to find out what I really wanted to do. I ended up in Liquid Entertainment, a theatre group that did, and still does, theatre shows.
I got the bug and fell madly in love with acting. Researching a character and picking out his little quirks and getting to incorporate that into my acting is very interesting to me.
Playing characters that are so different from me is also amazing. Shortly after, I got my first extra role on Briefcase Inc. That inspired me to pursue my acting even further.
When the next intake came round, I joined Kenyatta University where I specialised in film technology and theatre arts. Growing from that to acting on Netflix’s Sense 8 (Season 2) has been quite a journey. I’m interested in people, and acting gives me an opportunity to delve into characters and situations that I would otherwise never find myself in. I can’t wait to play more diverse and demanding characters.
2. What do you feel is the significance of shows like Too Early For Birds, for your art and dare I say, for Kenya?
Practice makes perfect, and that applies to acting too. Theatre has been my school. It really provides one with the ethic and discipline that’s needed to be good. Theatre is void of middlemen. You deal with the audience only, and that type of openness and vulnerability is rare nowadays. You can’t fake it. I can’t emphasise how important proper theatre training is to any actor’s success. Speech and movement cannot be learnt elsewhere. Theatre is largely a tool of the people, and it is important that ever country have a healthy theatre industry because it allows for expression and discussion. It’s the only way growth can happen.
3. Why do you think Kenyans are so reluctant to hear our important stories, especially when they are being repeated, as history tends to be? In mind is Rev Timothy Njoya’s story…
People in general don’t like change. Coming face-to-face with the uncomfortable truths you have been avoiding is not easy.
It demands that you accept the part you’ve played in making the system what it is and explore how you can play a part in changing it.
The church, for instance, has abdicated the role of leading people and providing them with the structures needed to fight social ills.
Kenyans have also been denied their history for a long time, so I think it’s less reluctance and more lacking of awareness that such stories exist. Rev Njoya has been a shining light on how to keep leadership on its toes. He cannot do it all alone though.
We all need to play a role, and the church has a big one to play. Hopefully, the conversation started on stage will go beyond the stage so that we can find ways to heal and change as a country.
4. What has been your favourite role so far and what will you be doing/looking forward to this year?
It’s difficult to choose a favourite role. I enjoy challenging ones though, so any that gets me out of my comfort zone is very much welcome. Playing a computer geek on the CBA Loop ad was a memorable one.
I didn’t have any lines, so the only way to portray the character was through facial expressions and movement. At this point in my career, a role that pushes me is what excites me. That has informed my own show, which is about self-awareness in relationships and how that can affect your emotional intelligence. I’ve been working on it for a while now, and I can’t wait to see how the audience relates to the stories and characters.
5. Has anyone ever told you that look like a young Kadeem Hardison of ‘A Different World?’
No, but I’ve been told I look like Obama (laughs)...but seriously, people often confuse me for the rappers in Camp Mulla.