Mentorship needs to be built, enforced and embraced. This is what creates the next generation of leaders, to spur the growth and prosperity of a country. Through mentorship, I know I will leave a lasting legacy
– Naomi Kamau, Kenyan producer, actress and scriptwriter
There isn’t a soul in Kenya right now in love with local television drama that hasn’t heard of Naomi Kamau. Naomi is by far one of Kenya’s leading television producers and actresses. From her acting roles in “Mother in law” and “Shamba Shape-Up” to her popular TV production “Machachari”, she is described as an iron lady when it comes to the Kenyan production arena. It is evident that Naomi has done a lot for the Kenyan TV industry. Hers is a passion to tell the African story for what it really is. To showcase the ordinary Kenyan life, to use drama to solve social problems and to help others embrace their heritage and be proud of who they are.
As a mentor and a mother, what gives her the greatest gratification is when Kenyan’s appreciate their own, when they rave about Kenyan productions and when they see themselves or others they know of in the characters created. Naomi posits that this is the path to greatness for any country -embracing their own abilities, heritage, culture and splendor.
“Africans need to create content that is commensurate with the lives they live for this is what will entice and draw the audience into appreciating their own”, she says.
When mentoring the young people. First and foremost it is important to recognize that we cannot as entrepreneurs implement the dream forever and that we have to pass the baton on to the youth in order to create a culture of sustainability in quality TV productions.
“I have great mentors myself like Wachira Waruru, Latifah Ngunjiri, Catherine Wamuyu and David Campbell. Successful people, most of the time, have to have mentors who are older and younger than they are”, she quips.
Having studied air-ticketing and taught History and English to secondary school students at some point in her life, Naomi shared five steps that she believes is the sure pathway to a successful production career.
1. Identify your passion
“Passion should be what drives you to surge forward. My parents wanted me to be a teacher but the passion within me couldn’t let me pursue that. I ended up teaching for two years but the passion was at it again stirring deeply
within me. The one strange thing about passion is that it’s almost spiritual and so strong and real that it will not let you rest until you embark on the journey to your dreams.”
2. Take the first step
“It is evident that God will certainly not bless someone who isn’t working toward the dream. You have got to be on the journey that will take you to your passion irregardless of the circumstances. A lot of young people view money as a great impediment but it shouldn’t be, you can work for the people who you want to be like, that is a path that will somehow lead you to where you are looking to go.”
3. Be creative and resilient
In this industry young people can be anything they would like to be if they put their minds and hearts into it. There are vast opportunities in wardrobe, make-up, animation, graphics and writing that young people can explore and excel in.
4. Work hard
This is the essence of success. It means literally getting down and dirty. When things seem not to be working, strive on, Rome was not built in a day. It takes hard work and time to build a successful and thriving career.
5. Read and Research
You need to know what others in the industry have done so that you can create something better. Better still you can liaise with the people already there in order to create something better. Production is an expensive venture especially for a young person and mistakes cost money. It would be good to know what other people who’ve made it think of your work. That is the essence of having a mentor.