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Meet Filmmaker And Photographer Mike Muikia
Mike Muikia is a filmmaker and a professional photographer who holds a Bachelor of Mass Communication and Public Relations degree from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
The 30-year-old is also the founder of Xperience Media Studio, a film agency in Kenya.
Mike shares his career journey.
“I was born in Naivasha but spent my childhood in Subukia, Nakuru County. I am the second born in a family of three siblings (two sisters and a brother). My childhood was really fun. I started my learning at Subukia Primary School. I was an average performer, and I loved drawing and sketching. I could draw the teacher on the back page of my exercise books and present it to my classmates, who would be thrilled.
I joined Kieni High School in Nakuru for my O’Levels, and in 2012, I joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) to pursue Communications and Public Relations.
While at JKUAT, I got an opportunity to spend part of my academic time in India for my industrial attachment. I was attached to a media department at Asia Plateau Training Centre in Western India. My job was to create audiovisuals for the online audience and help coordinate an internship programme.
During that period, I was introduced to remarkable professionals in the film industry, and I developed great love for the camera. When I finished college, I created my first film (Musical NAYOMI) and released it in March 2014.
I started a film studio in 2016 along Thika Road, and this has grown to be something fulfilling. I recently released my second short film, The Last Letter, which is available on YouTube.
Through the years I have been in the film industry, my key driver has been the state of today’s world. I want to be part of the solution and not the problem.
I have first learned to build mutual understanding with every stakeholder, which has profoundly created one principle; even if the other person is wrong, it doesn’t mean that I am right.
When it comes to people who have influenced my career, my parents come first. I was raised with the notion that nobody will ever make big or small decisions for me. My father was a disciplinarian and is still keen on how I carry myself. My mother has been an all-time inspiration. She tells me to always look beyond my interests.
I have had numerous business partners in various endeavours, and even though I can’t mention them all, my mentor Steve Kimaru remains a friend and one of the truest people I have known. I would not have started a studio without help and input from Steve.
I have had my wins, which I celebrate, like having my latest film premiere and screen at IMAX theatre. My modern studio is also an accomplishment I am proud of as I compete with bigger players in the film industry.
Every day I enter my studio, there’s a film to be edited, a script to brainstorm, and a photoshoot to be planned. It’s a shoot-edit routine for me. Music videos are my favorite; here, the challenge of screenwriting, capturing emotions, and coming up with something fascinating is not a thing for lazy people.
The camera is my obsession, and it’s either a film is good, or I did not shoot it. The film industry is very competitive, and there are opportunities for camerawork, lights for film, make-up, directing and photography, among others. As long as I can do any, I’m up for the task.
To the youth, first remember there’s no luck in life; it’s the extra mile in every endeavour that counts. One has got to push themselves because nobody is going to do it for them.
Second, the pressure of ‘kuomoka’ costs young people lives. Shortcuts mean easy come easy go. I don’t know anyone who made it in life and happily built something out of shortcuts.”
One on One With Femcee Groovy Jo
Groovy Jo (born Joan Nyabaro) is a rapper, singer, and songwriter whose sound combines trap, hip-hop, drill, Afrobeats, Ragga, and Afropop.
The 24-year-old was on the Homeboyz Jumpman Freshman List and nominated for Best Female Artist in the 2019 Unkut Awards.
What’s your background? What got you into rap music?
I started rapping back in high school after I joined the choir when I was in form one. Later, I connected with two other girls who were my friends at that time and we just started writing raps and entertaining our classmates – that’s back in 2012. I started it professionally in 2018. Rap was my escape from everything. I grew up very quiet, didn’t talk that much and rap was a way I could express myself in a way just speaking couldn’t.
How long has music been part of your life?
My whole life, honestly. I grew up listening to Madonna, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Michael Jackson was my dads’ favourite artiste. My older sister got me into rap. She would rap Tupac, Jay-Z, Eve and all the artistes who were popping at that time and I was just always in awe because I didn’t understand what she was saying but it’s just how she delivered it that made me want to do this.
How would you describe your musical style?
I think I pick up a little bit of everything from what you hear from me. You could easily tell my musical influences: Kanye, Nicki, STL and Tyler, the Creator. I call my type of rap edgy hip hop and trap. I also try to push the boundaries lyrically.
What is the first album you ever owned? How did you acquire it?
The first album I ever owned was downloaded. Does that count? (Laughs). Anyway, it was 808s and Heartbreak. I think it was the first ever tape that I ever downloaded and listened to because I never really listened to tapes and albums that started way earlier.
How did the name Groovy Jo come about?
I used to call myself Groove. But it really came from one of the first songs I recorded. I just mentioned it and it stuck. I was so hesitant on changing it but it just fit my brand and it had a piece of my real name in it so I went for it.
What are three things you look for when you see an artist play live?
Band, stage presence and the way the artist interacts with the fans. I love Chris Brown, Tyler, the Creator and Tory Lanez as performers. I feel like they are the most creative. They tick everything for me.
What’s a song you have stuck in your head these days?
Kendrick Lamar’s N95 and Rich Spirit are in deep. There’s just something about Kendrick that has his music stuck in your head can’t really explain it. I also love Pradadabang by IDK featuring Young Thug.
Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
From everything around me – my parents, friends and my favourite artistes who are Kanye West, Tyler, the Creator, Kendrick, IDK, Nicki Minaj, Doja Cat, just to name a few. They inspire my craft, my articulation and my delivery.
Who’s your fashion icon and why?
They change a lot, but my favourite at the moment is Teyana Taylor. She sure can dress. She’s always looking good and I feel like I lean more towards her type of fashion.
Give us an insider tip on what bands or artistes are about to break.
Now, I don’t know about that honestly but speaking of – when are Just A Band dropping? I heard they are reuniting, so that’s exciting.
What should we expect from your upcoming album Groovy Way Deluxe?
New sound, a fresh outlook on everything, heavy bars and a different side to Groovy you never thought you needed.
What does your daily routine look like?
Recently it’s been working out, going to the studio, meeting up with a few people, getting work done then back home, and repeat. My life is super boring. (Laughs). The studio is the most exciting thing for me.
In what way do you aim to make a difference?
I want anyone who ever felt inadequate in themselves and who felt like they never got to be heard can take back their lives and change it for the better like I did. I grew up feeling so small and not really knowing where I fit in when all I had to do was stand out. Once I discovered this, I became unstoppable. That’s why I aspire to inspire those who don’t know where they fit.
I Quit HR Job in the US, Sold Everything and Moved to Kenya with One Suitcase
Ms Patry has been living and working in Kenya for 10 years and is now officially a Kenyan citizen.
Tell us about your childhood and educational background
I was the type of child who loved being outdoors, playing sports and games with my siblings and the neighbourhood kids. I had my first job at age 9. I delivered newspapers so I could make money and buy my own things.
The first big thing I saved my money for was a BMX bike. There was a dirt track near our house where I could race and do jumps.
I went to catholic school for primary and secondary school and grew up doing volunteer work and community service as part of my education.
In school, I was a bit mischievous, and known for playing pranks on teachers and nuns. I went to New York University for 2 years, and then dropped out because I really wanted to be making money and traveling rather than reading about people and places in books.
I eventually went back and finished a degree in business at age 32.
Share with us your career journey
My career journey has not been linear because I have had many jobs across different industries from waitressing and bartending to working as an extra in a Power Rangers movie to having people’s lives in my hands as an Emergency Medical Technician.
In those jobs, I was always the person who trained new employees and I really loved it. This is what launched my career in Human Resources where I specialized in Coaching/Mentoring, and Training and Development.
After working in community healthcare in New York City for 7 years, I took a 3-week holiday to Kenya where I intended to volunteer at a children’s home and then go on safari.
The 22 girls at the home were not in school, so, I went to Kawangware market, bought text books and then painted a board with black paint, bought some chalk and found some local teachers to help me teach the girls.
There was one very strong-willed girl named Daphine who made me promise to send them all to school. I don’t take promises lightly, so, I went back to New York City and started a non-profit called Right2 Thrive to provide education scholarships to the girls at the children’s home.
Within a year, the home had doubled in size and we offered almost 40 scholarships to boys and girls living there.
After 5 years of flying back and forth to Kenya, I decided it would be much better and easier to just move to Kenya. So, in June of 2012, I quit my human resources job, sold everything I owned, and moved to Kenya with one suitcase.
Ten years later, I still enjoy doing a variety of different jobs. I split my time as Executive Director of Right 2 Thrive, Learning & Development Consulting, and most recently I have begun working in the wellness industry as a life coach and BodyTalk Practitioner.
What are the fondest memories of your career journey thus far?
I once convinced the conductor of a Star bus to let me stand in the doorway shouting beba beba along Ngong road. That was fun.
My favourite memories as a trainer are when the learner has their a-ha moment, and everything comes together. Especially when we’re teaching emotional intelligence—there’s nothing more beautiful than witnessing someone understand themselves in a completely new and empowering way.
What has been a key driver of your growth? Lessons learnt, celebrations and failures?
Epic failures, perseverance, continuous learning, and a sense of humour. I have learned far more from my failures than I have from my successes, so I think a key driver has been the ability to persevere through the tough times and come out wiser on the other side of it.
I also think it’s extremely important to try new things and learn new skills. I push myself outside my comfort zone deliberately because that’s where the growth happens. I like to get an early start to my day.
I wake up between 4 and 5 am to meditate and figure out my priorities for the day. I try to get the most important tasks done before 9 am when I can focus deeply. I work in focused blocks of time for all the different work I do. No two days are ever the same which keeps life interesting.
Who are the people or relationships that you can single out that have been useful in your career growth and how did they influence your trajectory?
I have always had incredibly supportive friends and family who let me be me. I was never forced to follow any one path and I am deeply grateful for that.
Here in Kenya, my husband has been instrumental in helping me navigate everyday life. When I first moved here, he would draw me the most beautiful and detailed maps so I could find my way around CBD and wherever else I needed to go.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in life?
The work we do at Right 2 Thrive with families. We provide education scholarships and life skills training to children but we also provide training, mentoring, and coaching to parents to give them the skills to earn an income and more importantly to strengthen the relationships between parents and children. This helps to unlock the potential of the whole family to break the cycle of multi-generational poverty.
Since I moved to Kenya in 2012, we have provided 71 primary and 9 secondary education scholarships. We have one university graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business, 3 diploma holders, 6 currently pursuing their degrees and 2 more who will start university in September this year.
In addition to scholarships, we have had 6300 children participate in our youth empowerment programs over the past 10 years.
Our community development work has provided business skills training, workforce readiness training, income generating skills training, and personal empowerment training to approximately 8450 adults since 2012.
Key decisions you might have taken along your career journey?
The decision to move to Kenya was the one that changed everything for me. In addition to expanding Right 2 Thrive’s programs, I got really lucky and also found the love of my life, Gakunju Kaigwa and gained a whole new beautiful family.
Your current role and scope of job?
I’m the Executive Director of Right 2 Thrive where I’m responsible for daily operations, managing the team, evaluating our programs, and fundraising.
Since Covid, I have stopped traveling the world to do in-person trainings and instead moved into the digital learning sector which has been a lot of fun for me. Lockdown has also given me the opportunity to become a certified BodyTalk Practitioner which is a healing modality that restores balance, communication, and synchronization within the body and mind so people can live healthier and happier lives.
What would you advise the youth in Kenya today?
Create your own opportunities, strengthen your resilience with emotional intelligence, and build meaningful and authentic relationships.
Future plans in your career and in life?
To expand Right 2 Thrive’s programs and reach to other communities. We’re still a small team so I would love to see us grow to the point that we can hire lots of youth and mentor them as they begin their careers. Once we make that happen, my next big plan is to open a wellness center to teach people how to heal themselves. The past two years have been extremely hard for so many people and I would like to be part of helping people align with their authentic selves, step into their personal power, and live the life of their dreams.
Travel, socialize, and try new things.
If there was one thing you could change about your past, what would that be?
Not a single thing. Everything I have been through has led me here and there’s no other place I’d rather be.
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