His ambition, skill, and will could inspire even the most down. Justin Mirichii went from accidentally stumbling onto the set in ’08 to starring in one of the latest shows in Kenya. He stars in Susan’s Diary Martin’s Chronicles that just recently premiered on Vumicentral.
The multiple-award winner briefly shares with Vuminews his experience in shooting and the becoming of his character, Martin.
Tell us about yourself.
“My name is Justin Mirichii, I work as an actor. I also do writing, voice over work, and I carry out some workshops for actors. I’ve been acting for about, 12 years now? Yeah.”
Now briefly tell us about your role in the show.
“In the show Martin’s Chronicles, I played Martin. A 36 year old guy, smart, focused, he’s got his life together. He’s a former news guy, now an entrepreneur who’s trying to basically come up and develop his own media company. Ambitious but he has love troubles. That’s the thing about Martin, love troubles.”
When first presented to the script, what were your thoughts?
“Interesting thing this is that, um, I wasn’t the guy on the project. When the Director called she’d actually wanted me to help her find an actor who would do a good job on the script. She described it to me and I was like, ‘Yeah lemme see’, Oh and I also do casting. I made a few suggestions but at the time, the guys turned out to be busy so she asked if I’d do it instead. I said ‘sure, cool’.
I hadn’t been in a drama series for a while and I’d missed it. When I saw the story, I thought it was interesting. It had a very fresh angle to the relationship story that we have so yeah, I jumped to it.”
What did you like most about the script?
“It was truthful. There was room to explore this character and show his different sides. It went all the way, literally.”
And during the intimate scenes, what were your fears?
“When I read the script I was like, ‘Eh! These are many!’ ‘cause I was counting the ladies and yeah, they were many. So I decided to share the script with my wife and hear what she says. She had the same reaction, but told me that she understands that this is my job and to go out and do what I gotta do.
I think there wasn’t any fear for me, so to speak. It was really just a matter of finding a connection with the other people I was working with and just keeping it professional.”
What were some of the challenges you faced on set while shooting the intimate scenes?
“Uh, well, I remember one particular person – whose name I won’t mention – who had ideas about how the scenes should go but of course, we had to bounce that stuff off the Director to see if they fit into the narrative…but we figured it out.”
Seeming very vague, we gave him a few more seconds to proceed, then he laughed…
“What? You can tell I’m hiding stuff? Haha, lemme just say it was interesting. It was interesting! It was, (he groans), it was interesting. Sometimes we had to take a moment to figure it out, there being a lot of choreography. I must say though, the Director and the DoP helped quite a lot in getting that perspective of how it would look from outside because you don’t want to do something then have people say, ‘Ah, we can tell it’s not for real’, you know?”
Speaking of, how was it working with Winnie Adisa as a Director?
“I’ve worked before with Winnie as a Producer and we hit it off at that point. I was now coming for her project – her directorial debut – so we had to find proper communication. There was a bit of a struggle for the both of us when we started but then at some point I came to understand what she wants me to do and I think she also gave me the leeway as an actor to embody the character and play my part.
She was also very gracious with me because at the time we were shooting I also had rehearsals for a stage play. A few times during the week I had to dash off the set, go for rehearsals, then go back and my cab was always taken care of.”
How easy was it for you to become Martin?
“Haha is that a trick question?
Honestly it wasn’t too hard because I feel it’s the stories that we see everyday but no one is really telling them that way. I’ve had my share of relationships and I’ve seen how people are even around me so it was not that hard to relate.”
Why should the audience look forward to watching this show?
“It tells a relationship story in a very fresh perspective and it lays it all there. There’s no sugarcoating, it’s all out there and I feel like it will help just to process stuff because essentially what’s happening is that there is Martin’s Chronicles and there’s Susan’s Diaries. One is a male perspective on relationships, one night stands, stuff like that while the other, Susan’s Diaries, is the female perspective of it. I would recommend watching both because it will give a more rounded perspective.
It will start conversations because I feel like for a lot of us guys, we’re just living our lives doing what we’ve seen done but we never quite sat down and asked ourselves, ‘What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? Are we equipped to even be in relationships?’ Those are not conversations we have and this is a good ice breaker that’s just gonna demolish the ice and just start that conversation on how we can have better relationships, I hope.”
Is there a moment in Martin’s life that resonates with you personally?
“I think there are a few but the highlight is the hardship of relationships.
You come in with your ideas of what a relationship is supposed to be, what your partner is supposed to be to you and you find out that need for you is not being met. And I think that’s why people keep going on and on trying to look for that connection and never finding it. I have had my share of that.
There’s a scene where Martin takes her to a not-so nice eating joint. You know how guys sometimes want to go to a kibandaski (local food joint) and have chapati madondo (beans and chapati) and it helps if your partner isn’t too particular about it. I mean, kula madondo (eat beans) if that’s what’s good for you.”
What’s your dream role as an actor?
“My dream role is to be in an action film, we haven’t had too many of those around. I’d like to be on a set where we’re using the green screens and prosthetics and stuff like that. Like in Apocalypto or Avengers, you know? And I have to like train for six months, still getting paid for it. That would be amazing. Or like a sci-fi like Avatar! I’d love to be in something like that.”
What was your very first role?
“It was in the year 2008 and it actually happened by accident. I’d gone to a set with a friend of mine, passing by saying hi to some guys I’d met at the National theatre. I was just watching them shoot when the Director said she needed a cop so she requested me and I immediately got into costume. She thought I did a really good job of which I was really appreciative.”
Well then, that’s Justin Mirichii for you. A beautifully passionate actor that’s been in the film and TV industry for more than a decade. Tune in right now to see him star in the latest popping Kenyan series, Susan’s Diaries Martin’s Chronicles, and tell me you aren’t impressed.
Till next time.