This feature on the fortunes and misfortunes of Tahidi High Actors was written and first published by Simiyu Barasa: A Google search of ‘Tahidi High’, one of the iconic TV programmes of its generation, reveals lots of disturbing stories about its actors falls from grace. I will risk an analysis, having been there from the word go.
There are two phases of Tahidi High and Tahidi High actors, and lessons there in. First phase is the original cast, when the then brand new Citizen TV was so lowly rated, and who helped Tahidi High and Citizen TV be the top programme and TV station respectively. These ones went through the auditions, toiled with low pay, shot in absolutely incredibly untenable situations, and saw the first months of stardom while the Citizen TV logo was still blue hahaha. The Second phase is the new generation of actors who came in when it was THE programme, latching on to its super star status. When the Citizen TV logo became its current orange or is it yellow?
The first generation, even after they were phased out, (in interesting circumstances) are at their peak decades later. They include a BBC international Correspondent, an MNet executive, actors who went on to star in Hollywood movies and still are to date, others in Mnet Series, others who became producers running their own TV and Film Production houses and series, others great writers to date, others award winning actors, others running successful you-tube and social media channels of their own, an internationally reknown DJ, radio and TV personality, top FM radio hosts, others professional counsellors who are now sought after in TV shows as hosts, others teaching drama in International IGCE schools. Apart from one who died after being sick, none of those in this generation has gone down the drain despite the dust to glory fame, and yet none of them is talked about.
The second generation feeds the current gossip columns intent on their tragedies, almost daily.
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What is the lesson? 1. The first generation got on board purely on merit and the love of acting itself, willing to be a part of a show no one was even watching then, a show lowly on pay, and grew with it to stardom. Real artistes. The second one was made of many, not all, many who were attracted to the allure of fame and stardom that the show would bestow on them. 2. Which maybe is the number 1, Nepotism and cronyism.
There was a time if Al-Shabaab bombed the set of Tahidi High, two families would have lost dozens of clan members. It was this, maybe a result of the national tribalism and nepotism politics that was affecting the country in the run up to its violent elections then, that drew in people who never attended auditions, who had no experience with the viscitudes of acting life, who were in because they could easily get in.
Some hardworking actors could see this and frustrations escalated. When the time was up for the programme, many of the second phase actors could not find the same easy ways into the next steps in their careers, some without their relatives. Some I have personal experience, even refused to attend auditions because “I have never attended auditions, I am a star.”. And the meltdowns began.