Michelle Mbaya, latest Kenyan export to Hollywood

Michelle Mbaya.

What you need to know:

  • Michelle is a creative in the entertainment industry specifically in Television and Film.
  • The Brookhouse alumni is artistic and at the same time still figuring out herself in her space.
  • She recently graduated from The New York Film Academy with Honours in my Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree.

At 23, she believes she is destined for greatness and already has been featured in some of America’s big television shows. She also has several films which she has written and produced under her name. She spoke to ActScene when she visited Kenya recently

What brought you back home? I came for holidays and to visit my family but I was also invited to give a talk at TEDx. In the event we used the TED format which was independently organised by a local community. It was held at Brookhouse, my alma mater.

What was the theme? It was about shaping the future. I sat down and thought ‘what shaped my future, and it was honestly when I failed’. I thought if it wasn’t for that and moving past that I wouldn’t have got to where I am now.

Why did you say that failure is the biggest blessing in disguise? Had it not been for failure, I don’t think I would have had the courage to stand up for what I wanted to do; and also I don’t think that my parents would also have believed in me. If I had excelled in what I was studying, then my parents would not have let me be an actor.

Who is Michelle Mbaya? Michelle is a creative in the entertainment industry specifically in Television and Film. She is very artistic and at the same time still figuring out herself in her space. At least that’s the way I like to think about it. I am an actress, writer and producer.

Take us through your journey. I found my love for acting at an early age and I have been performing since I was 12. I grew up surrounded by a lot of different cultures outside of my own. I recently graduated from The New York Film Academy with Honours in my Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree.

What TV shows have you done? A lot of it I did towards last year. Most of them will be airing this year. I was in a comedy show called 9JKL, Dear White People, I have also worked on General Hospital. Those are the ones I can remember at the moment.

You also wrote and directed a few short films? The film that I wrote was actually my thesis project and I have been flying on its wings for a year now. The story in the film is a story I have encountered time and time again growing up in different countries and dating men from completely different backgrounds. It was a love affair from a very young age, I loved watching movies and TV and knew that it was what I wanted to do with my life.

The film was about an American who marries a Kenyan. It’s called Sheep, Goats and Cows. It’s about a young Kenyan woman, Neema, who grew up outside of Kenya and is marrying an American man. Her father asks for Dowry from her fiancé and she is at odds about how much her culture and traditional customs should come into play. It confronts a theme I often deal with in my own life of “culture clash.”

What is your take on the Kenyan entertainment industry? I think it has come so far, having left the country at age 7 and we moved a lot around with my dad. Since then every time I come back there is always something new. There is still so much potential to grow. I can’t give too much insight about the Kenyan industry because I have never really worked in Kenya. I am primarily focusing on acting and growing my network. In the same breath I write a lot and have a tonne of scripts one of which I do plan on shooting in Kenya.


Stallone to star in fourth Expendables movie

American movie star Sylvester Stallone has confirmed he will return for a fourth Expendables movie, less than a year after bowing out due to disagreements with the producers.

The 72-year-old actor revealed his character Barney Ross “will be back” alongside some new faces in the next movie which will also star Jason Statham.

He took to his Instagram and wrote, “Barney will be back! Plus the crew and a couple new members,” he wrote earlier last week. This was a day after the Hollywood star dropped a huge hint he would be returning with another picture of the cast. “Just when you thought it was safe to go outside…They’re coming back,” he wrote.

According to Deadline, the news is surprising seeing earlier last year Stallone was singing a different tune in regards to the testosterone-driven all-star action hero team up. Stallone revealed he would not be back for another Expendables movie due to disagreements over the script and direction of the franchise; a month later supporting star Arnold Schwarzenegger confirmed he would also not return unless Stallone returned.

“We’ve got disagreements with Syl, but we’ve had them for over a year and a half,” said Nu Image/Millennium chief Avi Lerner. He added “Right now, each one has opinion. We agreed on 95 per cent of things, but there are certain things in production we don’t agree on. I don’t think it’s over, but write whatever you want. In my opinion, it’s not dead.”

The first movie was released in 2010 and was created by Stallone to pay homage to the blockbuster action films of the 1980s and 1990s, with a cast made up of stars from that era, including Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, and Dolph Lundgren. In the sequel the cast expanded and was joine by other stars such as Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Two sequels followed, and while none of them were necessarily smash hits with audiences or critics, seeing the elder statesmen of action team up had an undeniable novelty value. Further follow-ups were anticipated, as well as an all-female spin-off.

However, the brakes were slammed down hard when 2014’s The Expendables 3 crashed and burned at the US box office. However, even at 72, Stallone remains the perpetual comeback king; and with a ninth appearance as Rocky Balboa on the way in Creed 2, he clearly still feels there’s room for more Barney Ross and co. Speculation has that other old action guys will join the crew for The Expendables 4.