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Not all artists beg because they're broke - 'Mother-in-Law' star Ras on how actors use fans

'Mother-in-Law' actor John Githui 'Ras' reveals raw realities of acting beyond financial struggles

'Mother in Law' actor John Githui 'Ras'

For over two decades, John Githui, popularly known as Ras from the hit TV series 'Mother in Law', has been a prominent figure in the Kenyan acting scene.

In a recent video shared by Plug TV, Ras offered a candid glimpse into the challenges faced by actors, shedding light on financial struggles, the lack of royalties, and the need for government support.

Ras began by acknowledging the tough times that actors are currently facing. Contrary to assumptions, some actors seek financial help from fans not because they are broke but because they believe in the significant support and loyalty of their fan base.

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He emphasised that the perceived value of the industry has decreased over time.

"It's a hard time for wasanii... A lot of people know and notice actors, but they are broke. The value ya industry is going down with time. Whatever I used to get back then is different from what I get right now," Ras said.

Ras pointed out that some artists resort to online platforms to request financial assistance, not out of necessity but as a strategic move to tap into the support they believe their fans can provide.

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"This is why kuna wasanii wengine huingia kwa mtandao wanaambia wakenya wamesota wanachangiwa pesa. Unaeza pata huyu msanii si kusota amesota, ni kujam amejam. Anasema mimi wacha nitafute pesa kwa hawa wakenya by force kama wananijua," he said.

Ras reflected on his journey, expressing his deep-rooted passion for theater since childhood.

After completing secondary school, he entered the Kenyan theater scene through an audition in 1998, marking his first time on stage. His talent garnered attention, leading to roles in BBC films and eventually landing a significant part in 'Mother in Law'.

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"Theater ni kitu nilikuwa nacherish sana from utotoni. Siku moja in 1998 nikitoka theather nikaona audition na nikaenda the following day na nikajipata nimeingia kwa show. That was the first time on stage. We shot some BBC film then in 2008 nikaenda Mother-in-law. It's been almost 25 years in the game," he said.

When asked about royalties for actors, Ras revealed that there is no existing system for actors to receive royalties for repeated broadcasts of their work.

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He explained that, unlike musicians who earn royalties for repeated plays of their songs, actors do not have a similar mechanism in place.

"Hakuna royalty yoyote actors hupata. Tuseme my fresh episode comes on Thursday, then kuna repeats ya the same content on Monday, nikilipwa ya Thursday hiyo ya Monday silipwi kwa nini na kuna watu wamketi wanaiwatch? And adds are running? " he questioned.

Ras stressed the need for government backing and policies to protect and govern the rights of artists. He highlighted the lack of a supportive framework for artists in Kenya and urged MPs to address this issue in parliament.

"Artists wa Kenya wanaeza jisustain but the only thing we lack is government backing. Hatuna policy yeyote inagovern wasanii."

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Ras touched on the issue of perceived exploitation, particularly in terms of s*x and money, within the industry.

While he admitted that he has not personally encountered such situations, he acknowledged that others, especially women, have experienced exploitation.

"Mi sijaencounter but kuna watu najua wame experience especially madem kuni wengi sana walikuwa na passion ya theater na wamedrop juu ya hiyo sexual exploitation. Director anataka umgawie. Na ukikaataa hiyo chance inauma nje.

"Na kama ni kwa TV utapata its on condition like maybe wewe unalipwa 100k but 50k ni yangu. Ukikataa anatafuta mtu mwingine atakubali the conditions. Wengine unapata umeandka a very nice show umepaproach a TV station unaambiwa this is a good one we will think about it. The next month unaona the same idea kwa TV. Title tu ndio inabadilishwa. Huezi claim. You'll just feel bad, go back to the drawing board and write again," Ras said.

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Ras concluded by emphasising the potential of the arts to become a significant revenue earner for the country. He expressed disappointment in the lack of government support and called for MPs to take action to protect the rights and welfare of artists.

"I don't understand why MPs have never seen this as something to go to parliament and contend on yet art can become the biggest revenue earner in the country."

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Email: news@pulselive.co.ke

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