This has not been televised, but it is unfolding in a grand way.
Former high-flying television drama actors are coming out to reveal, to a shocking extent, the ruin that fame brought unto them. And there is a feeling the public has not heard the last and worst of it.
In the recent past, former actors of Tahidi High, the blockbuster TV series that peaked in the mid-2000s, have been emerging to discuss one distasteful experience or another, with the common denominator being falling into alcoholism and the devastation that followed.
Their experiences speak to the effects of instant fame. In a show that many found entertaining due to its relatable secondary-school setting, and which sought to dramatise the problems schools face and the ideal way to address them, the actors who helped deliver lessons on screen are now teaching them off it – presenting with both the good and the bad.
Angel ‘Miss Morgan’ Waruinge recently told a local radio station how depression knocked in.
“Alcohol came in as a result of luxury. You are young, you are famous, you have money, people are giving you attention; high-end people give you attention,” she said.
Joseph Kinuthia aka Omosh also came out to tearfully discuss how he hit rock-bottom after Tahidi High was discontinued, moving Kenyans in their thousands to raise funds and help the actor, whose troubles with money and fame are well-documented.
Then there is Dennis ‘OJ’ Mugo, who says he is now in the fourth year of trying to keep away from alcohol. The fame that came with the show saw him hit the bottle hard; so hard that his family booked him at a rehab centre, which he refused to join on the promised reporting day, vowing to get himself out of the rut. He is now in Embu.
“I’m in Embu because I’m still changing my circle of friends; still trying to find my footing,” he said through his YouTube channel in October last year.
There is also Bernard Mwangi, who played Mr Mweposi in the show.
He told the Nation earlier this week that he resorted into alcoholism to numb the constant feeling of guilt that he had failed to provide for his family.
Even Ted Kitana, alias Teacher Kilunda, has not had it easy after leaving the show. He recently had to relocate from the city to his rural home in Kangundo, Machakos County.
On the flipside, there are other stars from Tahidi High who have built on the fame to chart into new territories in the acting field without much incident. Among them are Abel ‘Freddie’ Mutua, Sarah ‘Tanya’ Hassan, Shirleen ‘Shish’ Wangari, Pierra Makena and Philip ‘Melvin’ Karanja.
So, what led to the mixed fortunes? Shish, who now runs production firm Blackwell Films and is involved in a number of local and international productions, said it speaks to something urgent.
“Talent management needs to be born in Kenya,” said the actress, writer and producer.
“I hear that in Los Angeles (home of Hollywood), there are very big talent management companies, and stars want to be in those particular ones. You have to have your act right to be in a particular talent management company, otherwise you’re out of work,” she said.
But Miss Morgan, in an April 15 interview with Radio Jambo, said former Tahidi High actors are being “targeted” because the tribulations highlighted are affecting other stars too.
“Right now, the reason people are getting away with so many other things is that there are so many other shows to watch. Before, it was just KTN, NTV, Citizen,” she said. “Tahidi High is easily targeted because it’s what people can relate to. It has related to like three generations.”
Another chronically affected lot are the Churchill Show comedians, who have in the past years grabbed headlines after falling into self-ruin, sometimes with fatal consequences.
To get a clearer picture of the actors’ tribulations, we visited Mweposi and Teacher Kilunda in their respective residences.
Mweposi, 51, wore a pale, weathered face when we met him on Monday at the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) centre in Machakos County.
He is struggling to pull himself out of evidently severe effects of alcoholism and depression he fell into years after Tahidi High thrust him to fame.
He now renders volunteer services at a missionary organisation that trains preachers of the gospel across the world.