As a co-host of Pambazuka National Lottery Show, Justin Karunguru is not a stranger to many. After almost a year of co-hosting the show that runs on K24, Milele Fm, NTV and Njata TV and radio, Justin can relate too well with the drama and emotions that come with the news of winning a lottery. Not forgetting the reactions people have when they finally meet him in person.
“Some think that I have a lot of money by virtue of hosting a lottery show,” he laughs. For the born-again Christian, landing the role of a presenter in a lottery show did not go down well with some members of his church.
There were people in Citam Valley Road, Church where he is a member, who felt that the show contradicted Christian beliefs. He was of a different opinion. “Prior to starting the job, I carefully read the terms of the job.
The proceeds of the tickets sales were to be directed to helping the community through health initiatives. I was at peace with that,” he adds.
Although it is his first time to host a TV show, Justin is not new to the screens having featured in numerous plays and shows as an actor. Briefcase Inc, Kona, Pray and Prey are some of the programmes he has featured in. He is currently an actor in Because You Said So show.
His interest in acting dates back from when he was about eight years old. “I always loved watching movies, plays, cartoons and news. It was easy for me to master different accents,” says the 31-year-old.
In Langa’ta where he lived with his parents and elder sister, he joined a church theatre group and made his debut in acting. It’s while acting in church that he landed the lead role of Joseph in his primary school production of Joseph and the Technicolour Coat and realised that he wanted to pursue acting more seriously.
When he joined Highway Secondary School in 2001, becoming a member of the drama club further provided him with a platform to practise his newfound passion.
Acting, however, took a backseat when he moved to Lenana High School in 2002. “Rugby was the dominating extracurricular activity in my new school. I joined the sport and took a break from acting,” says Justin.
In 2005 when he went to College of Insurance in South C for a diploma in insurance and later joined United States International University (USIU) for his undergraduate in 2007, he went back on stage. His big break came in 2012 while he was acting a series of plays on family issues in church.
A year before, a couple in church introduced a play to source for funds for their wedding. After the play was screened in Kenya National Theatre, the couple realised a gap in plays that articulated family issues.
The lovebirds then formed a company, Wholesome Entertainment, to specialise on regular plays on family issues, which Justin became a part of. He was spotted by a producer who invited him to audition for a cameo role in Briefcase Inc.
“It was meant to be a one-off role. But I did it so well such that they began incorporating the role into the script,” says the graduate of International Business Administration, marketing option.
Towards the end of 2012 he auditioned for a role in Africa Magic’s Kona and got it. “With the success I had gotten from the two shows, I thought it was time to establish a career in acting,” he says.
On any regular day, if he is not acting or hosting the television show, Justin is travelling around the country as part of his job as a motor vehicle assessor. Even though he specialised in marketing option on his undergraduate, he soon found out that working behind an office desk wasn’t working well for him.
He had other interests. “When I completed my degree in 2011 I got an internship at AAR in customer care department then got shifted to online marketing,” he says. After a year of working, he traded the office for a garage.
His passion for motor vehicle and bikes made it easy for him to decide what his next move would be. He enrolled for a diploma in automotive systems at Nairobi Technical Training College and after his internship as a mechanic in 2012 he went full time into motor vehicle assessment in a family business.
“The job entails assessing the damage on cars to be able settle insurance claims. Working for my father gives me the flexibility to juggle the other roles as an actor and a host,” adds Justin.