His teachers thought he would make a good actor, but Hillary Mwangi Wamiti was focused on becoming a police officer. Years later, he heeded to his teachers’ advice. He is now a fast-rising actor, a comedian and a scriptwriter
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
With his captivating acting skills, it’s hard to believe that Hillary Mwangi Wamiti popularly known as Maasai on a local television show, Jastorina had no intention to join the entertaining industry. Growing up, Wamiti wanted to be enlisted in the army. He envisioned a life in uniform.
Even his schoolmates at Kiaguthu Boys Secondary School, Murang’a, used to tease him telling him that his commanding voice suited the profession of his choice. However, his teachers noticed something different.
His funny, comic and trouble-making character made them to ask him to try his hand in acting. Even though he appeared disinterested, they never ceased to encourage him to give the career a try.
“I partly grew up in Murang’a where my mother was a teacher and Nairobi, Githurai 45 where my father ran a business. I desired to be a soldier. However, after my secondary education in 2008, I decided to see what the future holds for me in the entertainment industry. Surprisingly, the same year there was an army recruitment exercise and I never had the urge to attend,” the 28-year-old recalls.
Though he never attended any acting class, Wamiti headed to Kenya National Theatre for set books auditions, which he passed. His journey in acting took off. Since then, he has never looked back.
But while still making his way in the acting industry, Wamiti used to sell sweets in buses plying Nairobi-Githurai route. He also became a matatu conductor before setting up a wines and spirit shop.
However, his acting star has continued to shine as he rises from one level to another. The second born in a family of three has so far featured in different local productions such as Mashtaka, Inspecta Mwala, Jastorina (which thrust him to the limelight) and Micii ni Ndogo. He trains upcoming actors and is also a scriptwriter.
“I got a supporting role in Mashtaka in 2012 and Jastorina in 2013. I acted as Jastorina’s husband. But the show came to an end when Jastorina, who was the main character, passed on.
I moved from supporting actor to main cast, and got extra roles in TV shows such as Inspekta Mwala, Sue and Joni and Hullabaloo. I have a lead role for a vernacular TV production, Micii ni Ndogo, where I act as Njoroge. I may not have fully achieved what I have always wanted, but so far, so good. I’m on the right path,” he says.
To him acting is an inborn talent since he didn’t undergo any kind training and passion and interest have been his driving force. However, he says that stage acting has helped him gain confidence and creativity.
However, he is quick to say that even if he can actually pull out any character and imitate all Kenyan tribes accents and act like them, it has not been a walk in the park. There are some roles which were difficult to act.
“Shooting Jastorina where I was taking up a Maasai character was one of the challenging roles. Coming up with a Maasai accent was crazy. I disappointed my director and I was forced to stay with a Maasai soldier to learn how a typical Maasai behaves. That way, it became easy for me,” he says.
Another challenge is that there are some people who fail to distinguish Wamiti as a person, and the character they see on screens. But he says it’s just an act.
As a scriptwriter, he has several projects he is working on. They include A Day’s Encounter with A Fundi, Mystery Box, among others.
His advice to upcoming actors and actresses is talent is never enough — attitude is everything. “Talent will take you somewhere, but your attitude, character and discipline will get you to greater heights,” he says.