World –renowned producer, Tim Bergling, popularly known as Avicii, and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington’s suicides left a chilling shock that vibrated across the globe. Then came the news that celebrated American chef, Anthony Bourdain, had died of suicide, adding to the growing list of celebrities succumbing to the pressures of stardom. Cynthia Mukanzi takes a dive into the price of fame
Showbiz is packed with deadly amounts of pressure that pushes celebrities to the brink of mental instability and in some cases, death. Fame is a costly affair that comes at a price.
The unforgiving public immortalise celebrities and expect no short of perfection. In their eyes, musicians, journalists, thespians, artistes, poets, dancers, social media influencers, politicians, business moguls, among others, are demigods who are not allowed to miss a thing.
In the thrill of shining light on whatever’s imperfect, especially in this age of social media, lives have been lost, families torn apart, relationships ruined, careers tarnished and mental health is a constant deterioration.
Barely two months have gone by since TV presenter, Mike Makori, opened up about spending all his money on partying and girls. In a tweet, Makori said, “It took me a while to make certain realisations in life. One of them was about money.
You can do well and make money without showing it to people. Money is not about how much you make, it’s really about how much you save and how less you spend it. Not forgetting to let it work for you.
One of the biggest problems I had was that I used to spend a lot of the money I make at the club or chasing girls. Brokenness galore….
These days, when I go out I’d rather be that guy with one beer the whole night but comfortable knowing that I have limited my expenses. I think everyone can attest to how good it feels to know that you’ve spent the bare minimum on an indulgence.”
Very few have the resilience to grow a thick skin. Slightly introverted, with a low profile on social media musician Amos of Amos and Josh duo says, in a world where the public thinks it has a say on what musicians should wear, eat, hang out, live and drive, the only insulation to this pressure is staying true to one’s self.
“There are certain things that are expected of celebrities but this depends on how you build your brand. You can choose to have it close to people or away from scrutiny. It is also dependent on what you want to sell. The pressure is always going to be there and you cannot afford to allow it to dictate your lifestyle,” says the Baadaye hitmaker.
Sadly, some public figures attempt to fit the image constructed and ultimately expected of them. “We’re all different and people don’t understand that just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you’re rich.
People may have money, but not because they are famous but because of the businesses they may be doing on the side. Being famous doesn’t equate to wealth. As a brand, we choose not to let it change our lifestyle,” he says.
Amos and Josh don’t feel the need to live a blingy life just because people say so.
“If our bank account appreciates and we are able to afford certain things then it’s good. You just move with how life allows you to progress from one stage to the next,” says the soft-spoken singer.
While he is less conversational and quiet, his music partner Josh is chatty and makes friends within minutes of stepping into a room.
“The most important thing for us is to keep a balance, be authentic and keep in mind that as a public figure, there are people who look up to you. But don’t break for those who don’t add value to your life,” he says.
Nigerian artiste Yemi Alade is of similar sentiments as she shared at an interview.
“It is important to know who you are and that way, you will never lose yourself. People have been pushed to alarming levels of insanity probably because some work so hard to fit that picture.
There are a lot of stories of depression, drug abuse, panic attacks and suicides among creatives. Society knows how to target where it hurts and uproot you to the ground. It shouldn’t be like that,” says the Johnny singer. Yemi owes her strength to a reliable support system.
“That’s what everybody needs. As an artiste, you need to surround yourself with a team you can trust. Invest in one that will fight for you in all times,” she says adding that in reality, you can never be good enough for everybody, but what counts is knowing where you place yourself.
Take local artiste, Serro, who catapulted into the limelight with her hit, Rongai. With her latest release, Okello, the talented live performer has proven that she can equally fine-tune music in the studio.
She is not a gospel singer, but is a born-again Christian who is well aware that it is only a matter of time before the world comes for her neck. “Some people are hard stuck on the notion that you cannot be a born-again Christian who doesn’t necessarily do gospel music.
I refuse to be held back in that manner. I have been gifted with a voice to use as I please, and that is singing. The world will always throw sticks and stones, but the only being who understands my conviction and values is God,”she says.
Media personality, Robert Burale, recently put celebrities on the spot, calling them out on posing a high life all for the camera, saying “Fame alone will not put food on the table. Because you see me on TV once in a while does not mean I should eat at a five-star hotel all the time.
Well, if I cannot afford, please let me eat my chapatti ndondo (and don’t call me humble when you see me eating ndondo…it’s my pocket). I am okay with that.
Because you see me on TV sometimes does not automatically mean I can afford a huge machine, when the time comes, then I will. Some people may recognise me in the streets does not mean I have millions in my pocket. Pressure tuwache…,” wrote a disgruntled Burale.
He went on to add the bug of fame has taken many down the drain, and from where we’re sitting, the picture-perfect lives posed to the public, might be their undoing.