It started out like an explosion. After Kenya’s leading TV Stations including Citizen TV, KTN Home and NTV announced temporary halts on TV dramas’ and comedies’ production, stars came out asking for help when they hit a rough patch.
Most notably, Tahidi High actor Kinuthia Kamau (Omosh) surfaced in June 2021 seeking menial jobs after leaving the famed show that had a cult-like following during the aughts. Omosh cried for help just weeks after Kenyans had galvanized contributions he claimed yielded less than Ksh1 million and could not comfortably settle his debts .
Before Omosh came out of the woods begging Kenyans to come to his rescue, his Tahidi High co-star, Dennis Mugo, popularly known as OJ, had called out Citizen TV in September 2020 accusing the media house of reusing content without properly compensating the stars.
Other stars including Machachari’s Tyler Mbaya (Baha) and Malik Lemuel (Govi) as well as stars from other shows across the industry also ran into headwinds after production on their shows hit an abrupt halt.
It turns out that the predicament that some of the stars find themselves in after their 15 minutes of fame runs out is largely a tragedy of their own making.
An industry veteran, explained that for most of the actors, apart from the fame that the line of work attracts, the industry requires savings and investment discipline just like any other profession.
He further noted that some of the stars, who enjoyed fame and fortune at the peak, did not properly plan their finances.
“It is not about actors, It is in every discipline… Actors are not different from any other employee. who wants to earn a living. It is all a question of personal discipline.
“Artists are not special, it happens in every discipline in life,” stated the veteran.
For some stars who join the industry with an eye for acting and giving out quality work, their efforts are shielded by the fame that not many people can handle really well.
The media manager told this writer that some stars gave in to repeated free alcohol offers from stunned fans and easily found themselves hooked to alcoholism.
“There is a cost to fame, when you are famous and everybody recognises you in the supermarket, people tend to deal with that differently. There are people who can’t handle fame and sometimes it put pressure on people to live beyond their means because they are famous.
“Also because you are famous, people will be very good to you and it is very easy to slip into alcoholism because everybody is buying you drinks and you are being invited to a lot of things,” he added.
BBC journalist, Ferdinand Omondi, who played a role in Tahidi High show before ditching theatre to chase his career as a journalist, explained that it always narrowed down to planning and expanding horizons, a character that some of the actors lacked.
He joined Tahidi High while interning at Citizen TV and when the opportunity to enhance his career opened up, he exited the stage.