You probably have seen him in hit screenplays, casting in theatres and even TV commercials. He is a naturalist,with immense talent. The passion for his craft is unquestionable. In a conversation with StartUp Magazine, he deftly tells of how he discovered and nurtured his acting skills from a young age to be the big shot he is today!
Who is Mugambi Nthiga?
I am an actor, writer and director for the stage and screen. I also work as a freelance advertising creative, film blogger (on its mugambi.com/blog), events emcee besides being part of an improve comedy group called ‘Because You Said So’.
What fascinated you to begin a career as an actor? Why do you feel this is the ideal profession for you?
I’ve wanted to act since I was a little kid despite my tender age.I was a soft-spoken child and for that, I was cast in a nursery school play. I wore a little costume, walked out into the lights of the stage and beat a drum with such stage presence like I was born to occupy it. My Mum and sister were in the audience and they were so thrilled! I hadn’t experienced life or myself in that way. It was an incredibly profound experience. The love was discovered there.
When did you first perform?
Age five. The incident described above while I was in nursery.
What kind of roles do you prefer?
Anything that is emotionally and intellectually challenging and makes me feel different afterwards, I am in. I love something that challenges me to move from what’s normal.
Kati Kati was a major hit, did you write it?
I co-wrote it with the Film’s Director, Mbithi Masya.
What was challenging about bringing Kati Kati’s script to life?
It was a novel concept for a film. We were excited about the idea, but found that building the world and setting the rules involving and taking many hours of thought, discussion and wide reading. We refused to settle on anything we felt wasn’t quite there. Mbithi was relentless during the entire film making process but our efforts paid off.
What’s your favorite stage show?
That has to be Sarafina! It was my first paid ‘gig’ ever, and my first time on stage after high school; so we can say it was my first time on stage as a “professional actor”. The premiere of the show was graced by Mbongeni Ngema (the film writer), and Leleti Khumalo, (the film’s original star). I formed friendships and professional relationships then that have lasted to this day. Lwanda, Man of Stone would come close at the second place.
In real life, are you the same person we see in the cast?
Hardly. It wouldn’t be acting if it was, right?
What do you do when you’re not doing theatre/films?
Watching films; or writing them or writing about them and talking about them as a hobby but also as a career.
What’s your perfect weekend like?
I’m far away from home with cool people, enjoying a lovely journey, great weather and lovely music; Plus plenty of food and drink awaiting us.
If you had a magic wand, what character/shows would you do next?
Lead in a critically-acclaimed TV drama series, The Wire or True Detective. Voila!