unknown Kenyan actors calling the shots in the international arena

The little-known actors have played critical roles in the Hollywood that have defined the real taste of the movies, yet some of them have gone unaccredited such as Tindama Riano, who is barely known in Kenya and even in the US.

Oliver Litondo in the Movie First Grader
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Kenyan actors have flavoured the Hollywood movies since 1931, but little is known about them except for award-winning Lupita Nyong’o and Edi Gathegi who shot into the limelight recently, to the awe of most Kenyans.

The little-known actors have played critical roles in the Hollywood that have defined the real taste of the movies, yet some of them have gone unaccredited such as Tindama Riano, who is barely known in Kenya and even in the US.

We take some time to research and illuminate the name of these stars who have held the Kenyan name in glory in the international levels of the movie industry.

Mutia Omoolu

He was the first Kenyan actor to make it into the Hollywood in a movie shot in Kenya and the MGM Studios in California in 1931. In the movie Trader Horn, Omoolu took the role of the unofficial casting director for the Kenyan crew. He also acted as the Horn’s gun bearer alongside another Kenyan actor, Riano Tindama who played the role of a witch doctor. Tindama was not credited in the movie.

Mary Oyaya

The Star Wars star was born in Mombasa to UN diplomat parents. She admired her parents’ job, impelling her to pursue international relations up to the master’s level, as well as international social development. With such wealth of information she has been able to traverse across continents in countries such as Canada, Sweden and Australia working as a diplomat. She has been an extra for film productions, such as Lost Souls with Wynona Ryder, Down and Under, and the SyFy Network TV series Farscape. Oyaya’s most popular role to date is Jedi Mistress Luminara Unduli in the 2002 Star Wars film episode Attack of the Clones. Oyaya currently lives in Australia, where she still continues to model and pursue her acting career.

Kipsang’ Rotich

He is also a Star Wars‘ star. He is the Kikuyu voice behind Nien Nunb in the movie Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi. However, his voice role in the movie is not credited. He was born in 1958 in Eldama Ravine, and he is only known for his role in Star Wars in the Hollywood. He has since abandoned the film industry for business.

Benjamin Ochieng’

The Kenyan-born actor is well-known for his role in X-Files as second African man, Marty Zagon. He has a soft spot for Swahili lines. He holds more than 20 titles to his filmography that include a voice actor in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Ochieng’ has also worked in movie crews as a sound editor and a writer. He has also directed two short films: Mr. Brewers Difficult Day (2011) and MISSInformed (2013).

Charles Gitonga Maina

The 42-year old giant (6’10”) shot into fame in the movie The Air Up There where he played the role of Saleh, a basketball star who is taught the Jimmy Dolan Shake and Bake, a basketball move that led his team to victory. He also guest-starred in the episode Lostland of the television series SeaQuest DSV, as Professor Obatu and his ancestor Deucalion. In real-life, Maina is a record-holding basketball player in the US. He attended his college studies at Lynn University on a basketball scholarship from 1997 to 1999. He still holds the Lynn University record for most blocks in a single game (11), which he achieved against Barry University on December 7, 1998. He left the country (US) to try out for a team in Greece and was unable to return to the US due to visa problems. Since then, he has returned to Kenya.

Also see: Crowned abroad, unsung at home ~ Ken Ambani

Kiran Shah and Deep Roy

The two have Indian roots but were born in Kenya at around the same time. However, they immigrated to India and Britain respectively at some stage of their lives. Kiran has 31 titles in his filmography including The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, Titanic, and Alice in Wonderland. On the other hand, Roy has more than 46 titles on his name among them being the Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Mafia!, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, A Man Apart, Weekend Warriors among others. Both actors have dwarfism with Roy being 4 feet 4 inches tall and Kiran Shah at 4 feet 2 inches.

Oliver Litondo

Oliver is a Kenyan actor born in Kakamega. He studied in the United States and was a TV presenter (BBC and Deutche Welle) before venturing into acting. He also worked at KBC and KTN as an anchorman. Litondo is known majorly for his role starring Kimani Maruge in the movie The First Grader. He has also starred in Sheen: Queen of the Jungle, Ivory Hunters, The Search for the Nile and The Bush Trackers.

David Mulwa

David Mulwa started acting at the age of seven years, he is one of the most known names in the Kenyan film industry. He is known for his role in To Walk with Lions (1999), The Knife Grinder’s Tale (2007) and The Great Elephant Escape (1995). Locally, he is known for TV shows such as Nairobi Law, Higher Learning and Tabasamu.

Raymond Ofula

Raymond Ofula is one of the household names in Kenya, having been an actor for more than 40 years. Some of the international films he has featured in include: Tomb Raider II (starring Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie), White Maasai, To Walk with the Lions, Oscar-award winning film, The Constant Gardner.

Lenny Juma

Lenny Juma is an actor and casting director, known for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), The Constant Gardener (2005) and Arthur and the Invisibles (2006).

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