Name: Venna Odhiambo
Occupation: Script writer: comics and screenplays, Actor and Model
Social media links: vennaodhiambo.wordpress.com
Vennah Atieno; Facebook.
Creative life cycle
I always lived in my head even as a child. I had a very concrete imagination of my life as I wanted it to be and everyone around me became a character to enhance these tales in my head. My creative journey began when I joined a junior girl group in my church. In this group we mainly danced during church during masses, but occasionally had the opportunity to engage with other similar groups within Nairobi and a few times nationally in arts and cultural competitions. We did everything from traditional dances to stage plays and poetry among other things. For a while I was only good at dancing and choral verses, probably because I had never been cast in a play or performed anything as a solo act. Then there was a time when one of the cast members of a play fell sick days before the show (competition) and in the director’s opinion I physically fit the role. I stepped up and because no one had faith in me, including myself, they reduced the lines by this character. So when the D-day came, I went on stage, scared as hell; which was good because my character was a child scared to death of his father, for some reason I was always cast as a male character. I was so shaken that at my first exit from the stage I fell from a staircase, accidentally, but everyone thought it was part of the act and ended up feeling so sorry for this poor little kid. Frightened as I was at the sight of a large audience, I somehow let go of my personality and embodied the character. That is how I learnt to act and guess what I won best actress. From this point on I was intrigued by performing arts and always participated in them as a dancer, narrator, actor and poet. That experience also gave me the confidence to start performing as a solo act from a young age. I however never imagined myself being an artist or entertainer in the future, I wanted to be an engineer because that was what everyone thought was a great dream for great people. We also did not own a television for the longest time (till I was in form one in 2005) so I never knew of any successful artists, at least not that much. It was something I did for fun all the way till my campus years in K.U. During these years I met students who were pursuing the arts and only envisioned their lives as full time artists. The fever eventually got to me and my first attempt was dancing despite the fact that I was already an active member of a theatre group as an actor. I joined Safari Cats dance crew, one of the best in Kenya and fared well for some time but quit because it took too much from my academic work and I wasn’t full sold to the idea of being a dancer for life. I kept acting in triple E and at one point became inspired to write my first stage play. It was different from the group’s norm but equally appreciated. From then I started secretly experimenting on screenplays as I have always been a fan of T.V and movies. I didn’t take it seriously until someone from a local production house (STRAM MEDIA) read my screenplay and decided he was interested in working with it. In the process of developing the script to a pilot shoot I discovered how much was lacking in my script and I also discovered that of everything I ever did in the arts, this gave me the most satisfaction.
We shot a pilot that was never sold by the producer but I slowly began searching for writing apps, writing tips, writing styles and information about screen writers whose works I liked. I also kept experimenting with different scripts by myself and kept developing my story construction skills. After a year of playing around with words on my own, I came across an advert for a screen writers workshop by Ubuni Media School. I was excited by this and I attended it. In this workshop I met writers in the country that I did not know about but were very talented and kept communicating. I also joined Kenya Writers Guild after this session and from one of the members I had met, I got to be part of a writing team for a local television program. This was a great experience that gave me the opportunity to learn about the local television scene and its difference to the international scene which I had constantly read about. I have since attended more workshops by the Kenya writers guild (KWG) that have continued to develop my skill sold two more scripts based on running television series. Being a fan of t.v, I am often disappointed by the lack of content on our local programing networks and this has inspired me to focus on telling Kenyan stories to a Kenyan audience in a relatable and entertaining way and this is what I am working on creating and building at this stage of my creative journey.
There is always a ‘because’ to what we think and do. I, through scripts that I sell or produce for a gain, provide a magnifying glass into characters’ lives in an informative and entertaining way.
To be the go to comic and film maker for realistic entertaining and relatable work that portrays the struggles faced commonly and uniquely by the human race and inspires people to be empathetic, forgiving and respective of other’s choices and personality differences.
• Document African legendary stories through comic books and animation films
• Tell stories that reflect the many different faces of Kenya through film, mainly television shows.
• Explore and tell stories that most writers shy from because of fear of polarization that may be associated with such stories for example radicalization and religion.
• Produce entertaining content for television
• Service delivery
• Social responsibility
• Wealth creation
• Social and economic development
18 MONTH PLAN SUMMARY
• Launch Afrokids comic series which is in development.
• Shadow a local producer to get a 360 degree perspective of the television industry.
• Partner with a producer and a director (that I met in this class) to produce a t.v show ‘Happy hour’ which enables artistes and the larger population to get to know more accomplished artistes in different areas of the creative industries.
• Produce 3 short films.
• Launch a YouTube channel that I will use to air the content that I come up with.