She started off as a make-up artiste but now she is among Africa’s top TV producers, Lucy Gakii Chodota the executive producer and creator of the show chats with Cheptoek Boyo about her highs and lows in production work
Tell us about yourself
I am half-Tanzanian, but Kenyan. When I was five, my parents moved to Kenya. I attended Mbagathi Road Primary School then Braeburn. After high school, I moved to UK to study cosmetology at West Herts College and Dik Peteers. I later went to Holland to study make-up for TV and Film at the Prosthetic and Make-up School in Amsterdam.
I came back to Kenya and worked on different TV commercial sets as a make-up artiste. I also did make up on the set of the film To Walk With Lions. I also started a modeling agency, Mode Models with my partner Tracy Kamene Ombanjo who was a former Miss Kenya in the 1990s.
How did you end up producing movies and TV series?
When I running the modeling agency, I was called to do make-up for the To Walk With Lions movie and fell in love with the producer’s chair. I could clearly see my name on it. That is when I decided to pursue production. The key make-up artiste I was working with was from Canada and she requested me to assist her on the next production.
I decided to move there and try it out. I enrolled at a film course in Montreal Canada and took many master classes. I became a production assistant and through that, I learnt the trade in different departments in film and TV production. I later moved to the Netherlands to work on some documentaries. That is where my daughter Nuru Giselle was born. It was my home for the last 15 years.
You have been known to shoot documentaries why change from that to TV series?
My background is in documentaries, which is I am passionate about. I worked with Oxfam Navib in Holland on many social issues. However, documentaries are not easy to fund today.
I came back home and I realised that we lack quality stories that can identify with women so I thought why not turn documentary storylines that involve women and empowerment into drama that people can watch and relate to? That is how I came up with Rush TV series.
How did you find the funding for your TV series?
I first looked for investors for the show before I went looking for a broadcaster. Most people start the other way round, which often doesn’t work. With the help of one of my business partners and my brother Immanuel Gichuki Chodota I shot my pilot firs, which got good reviews on the Internet and social media, then after eight months I shot the first full season. I did season 11 a few months later.
You are the main investor of the adaptation of into a movie of John Kiriamiti’s book, My Life in Crime. How is it coming about?
It is still in development phase. We are restructuring and we are taking into consideration what the audience wants. Not necessarily the Kenyan audience, viewers in because the movie has to meet the international requirements so that the story can travel beyond borders.
What’s your view on Kenyan productions?
We have a long way to go, but slowly getting there. I would like to see more high quality productions and more professional storytelling.
Advice to upcoming producers?
Production is a profession like in other. Skills grow over time.