Suzanne Karani: When it comes to pay in the arts industry, information is power

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • I am in a play which will be going on tour in Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa at the end of January and beginning of February.


  • Anyone in those three places should look out for it. It’s a Moliere play called The Miser, produced by Stuart Nash.


  • Locally, I would love to work with Nini Wacera and Wakio Mzenge. I absolutely adore them. I would also love to work with the legendary Raymond Ofula, and also Nick Mutuma.

Suzanne Karani  a theatre and film actor with five years of experience. She is an art enthusiast with a passion for singing and acting. 
 

1. In your latest show, Pepeta, you play Esther, who is a good girl in love with a 'bad boy'. Has this ever happened to you in real life? How did it end? What did you love most about playing Esther?
(Chuckles) I think most women have fallen in love with the quintessential bad boy. I have been there, and of course, it ended! It ended pretty badly. The guy dumped me via text message. His words were, “You will never hear from me again.” It’s funny now when I think about it.

I loved Esther because she was real. She knew what needed to be done in her situation. She was a tough cookie, and she knew how to play her cards right to get what she wanted. Also, she is the soft part of the whole series that involves many characters who are so rough and gangster. Esther, the sweet little girl, tones everything down. I just love her.

2. What upcoming projects should we look out for from you? How do you pick and choose the roles you want to play, and who would you like to collaborate or act with locally?
I am about to close a deal for a project I won’t disclose yet, but will surely post the details on my social media platforms once it is confirmed. Meanwhile, I am in a play which will be going on tour in Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa at the end of January and beginning of February. Anyone in those three places should look out for it. It’s a Moliere play called The Miser, produced by Stuart Nash.

Locally, I would love to work with Nini Wacera and Wakio Mzenge. I absolutely adore them. I would also love to work with the legendary Raymond Ofula, and also Nick Mutuma.

3. Do you remember your very first role? How much were you paid? How do actors figure out how much they should be earning from a role? Do you think there is a problem of underpayment in the local arts industry?
I remember my first role, back in 2018, in a theatre production. It was a play called Avaricious Averina. I played Averina. I was paid Sh1,500.

When it comes to pay, I believe information is power. Ask people who have been in the industry for a while. They know the ropes. Also, it depends on the weight of the role and the production itself. What sounds fair is mostly dependent on the two. Don’t be afraid to quote your worth. The fact that they chose you means there is something there.

4. What, in your opinion, is a good actor? What traits do they have? How can young actors better their skills? What kind of training or courses or reading material are valuable for aspiring actors?
A good actor, in my opinion, is one who understands how different each role, situation, and production is. Again, we never get to a point where we are perfect. We are constantly learning. I find that each role challenges us differently. Young actors can better their skills by constantly working on their craft. Invest in it. Every opportunity is a learning one. Attend workshops, watch movies, get tips from your fellow actors, go for auditions. You may not get the role but those always teach you something about your acting.

For the training part, I would say, attend workshops. If you are interested and able, there are courses in some schools that will go a long way in helping you improve.

5. If you weren't a theatre and film actor, what profession would you have gone into?
Interestingly, I don’t imagine doing anything besides acting. I almost became a doctor though! But if I wasn’t an actor, I would be a singer. I love singing.
 

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