While his sense of fashion has never come into question, the choices in his love life raise eyebrows and are no doubt the source of gasps and multiple hand gestures of frustrations from the viewers in many Kenyan living rooms who are tuned in.
Embodying the character and adding his own personal flair is Brian Martins Ogana. This 32-year-old thespian and born-again Christian talks to Kenyans.co.ke explaining just what it takes to play such a flamboyant character but still maintain his relatable charm.
What made you say yes to playing Luwi on Maria?
I chose the role simply because of the plot and storyline, and I fell in love with the character because it would push me to the limit, because, in case you didn’t notice Louis (Luwi) Hausa plays along with so many emotions and switches between being sad, happy, dramatic, drunk and so on.
How do you relate with your character?
Once am on set I wear Luwi's shoes and try to imagine how best can Luwi play the role, it takes a lot of homework for one to execute a certain character
How alike and different are you to your character (Luwi)?
We are so much different. Brian as a person is a cool, shy, God-fearing person and takes time to asses a situation. On the other hand, Luwi is dramatic, egocentric and a spoilt brat ( but we share a trait, both of us have a keen eye when it comes to dressing and style).
What's the most challenging part about playing Luwi?
The most challenging part about playing the character Luwi is changing from one emotion to the other.
How do you prepare for crying scenes?
The tears are real!
Well for the crying scenes I summon all the painful experiences I have endured in life, and then the person who is my co-star on the scene also contributes to the crying, because theirs is just something when you go down the memory lane and think of the painful experiences and look into someone’s eyes, one tends to break down.
What should we expect from Luwi as the series progresses?
For now, what I can say, is you haven’t seen anything yet, there is more to come.
Who’s the funniest person in the cast in real life?
Ben the chef, Koros the driver and Lorna the head of servants.
Worst unexpected/ weird fan interaction, you've experienced?
A lady fan wanted to kiss me. Also, a fan wanted me to cry on command. I played cool, because again you wouldn’t want to sound rude, but affirm on your statement.
Are you dating?
Yes, I'm dating. But, she's not in the public domain.
What’s your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
After church, I go home and prepare myself a nice meal, since I love cooking then later I relax with a nice read on either Ancient Greek methodologies or any historical book.
Tell us about your studying engineering before switching to Journalism and then Communications?
I used to love computers when I was young and my dad wanted me to do civil engineering as a career. By the time I was joining campus I had a change of heart and end ended up changing to computer engineering. But that wasn’t what made me feel alive.
A friend reminded me of my high school passion that was journalism and drama, and so I changed and did journalism, worked for a local station for almost 7 years, called it quits and went for an international media station.
It’s from here that I felt alive I needed something new and that’s when I changed to communication, which I now practice as a communications officer /strategist.
How long have you been acting? What are some of the roles you've played?
I have been in the industry for quite a while now. What most people don’t know is that I have been acting all along, I just took a break and Maria is my comeback. I have featured in shows such as Changing Times, Wash and Set, Guy Centre just to mention a few.
I have played a mobster, a geek, a TV host with other roles that I can’t remember and now Maria as a spoilt mama's boy, but focused (it’s only through a heartbreak that I slipped).
What do you do when you are not acting?
I love cooking, swimming, reading, and work on my sartorial suit business.
Who do you look up to (as an actor/director/etc.)?
My all-time local actor is Dennis Musyoka and Raymond Ofula internationally it has to be Denzel Washington, Will Smith especially the crying scenes and Leonardo DiCaprio.
For directors, I will go for Spike Lee and Steven Spielberg.
Back in 2007, I was trying to figure out acting, so I tried to audition for a young male role. In the middle of my auditions, the producer picks his phone and says to the person on the other end "I'm doing the last round of auditions, and this person who is auditioning can't even get the role, "pengine ajaribu kama mascot" (maybe he should try out for the mascot role).
I swear I wanted the world to swallow me. But I kept pushing on and here we are. What most people don’t get is the fact that we have been told no so many times but we kept on pushing and working on our craft. Right now we are good pals and I always remind him of that day.
How would rate the Film/Arts industry progression?
As an artist, I would say we are still far from it, but we have come a long way. I can’t really compare now and 10 years ago. If you are keen you will notice, the patterns have changed in terms of quality in cinematography, a new breed of thespians coming up and amazing content being developed.
All in all the industry is gradually shaping up, and I believe in a few years to come we will have something to smile about. So, as an artist instead of complaining of how the industry is, I play the little part I have in shaping the industry.
Brian Ogana plays the role of Luwi Hausa in Maria, a show that airs on Citizen TV from Monday to Friday at 7:30 p.m.
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