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January 21, 2019

‘Empire’ star in Kenya for acting masterclass

Actor Morocco Omari /COURTESY
Actor Morocco Omari /COURTESY

More than 80 Kenyan actors attended a two-day acting masterclass at the Business and Students’ Centre, Kenyatta University, which began yesterday and concludes today.

The main speaker is American film actor and director Morocco Omari, who plays Tariq Cousins, an FBI agent in the series ‘Empire’. He has also featured in various TV series, including Prison Break, Chicago Fire and Homeland.

“The stories in Africa,” he says, “are so rich and there are so many stories that need to be told. In America, we kind of live in a bubble, so many hospital shows, police shows, and we get bored,” he said.

“When I come to Africa, I hear all these stories and I’m like, ‘That should be a movie’ or, ‘That should be a show’. I’m inspired as an artiste because I am learning something new.

“Not only am I being entertained, I’m being educated as well. So anytime I can learn something new for me and my growth — spiritually, physically and mentally — I’m a part of it. I know how as an artiste I can always go home and make some money as an actor, and then I can come home to the motherland and give.”

Omari added: “I think the continent has been ripped enough from all those different countries that snatched off their resources, so they don’t need me here to come and snatch off their stories. I would rather they shoot it from Kenya. I will tell them: ‘Tell your stories. You are going to tell the story of Kenya better than Hollywood. Hollywood is going to probably hire African Americans who don’t speak the language and the key role is not going to look like you.’ We have to tell our own stories, that’s the best way to do it and then be so good so they can’t deny it.” 

So, what has life taught him over the years? “Life has taught me that you can dream big. That dreams can come true and keep coming true, and that anything is possible. To always be open to learn and grow and to never say never. To experience life and to travel because travel has enriched my life so much and educated me so much that when I go home, I will be sorry for people who don’t even do it because they will never see the beauty of Kenya.”

His parting shot is a word to those who want to make it big in the film industry.

“I would tell them to never let success go to your head and never let failures go to your heart. To keep walking forward, don’t enjoy the journey because you want to enjoy the destination. To be open. To continue to learn and work hard. To be human. To be open. Always be curious. To travel, as it helps you with your art. To never give up and to never let anyone tell you that your dream can’t come true. To give back, to pay forward and take some time to yourself to relax.”

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