Morris Mwangi: Peeling back the onion behind one of Kenya's most versatile actors

The thespian's artistic journey spans over seven years, during which he honed his craft both on stage and screen.

Piece by: PAUL AMUKO

• His remarkable portrayal of Jonah in the hit series "Faithless"  captivates audiences, revealing his immense talent and versatility

Morris The Actor
Image: Courtesy

In the vibrant landscape of Kenyan film industry, one name shines bright: Morris Mwangi, better known as Morris the Actor.

His remarkable portrayal of Jonah in the hit series "Faithless"  captivates audiences, revealing his immense talent and versatility.

As the son of Cain, the underworld kingpin within the "Faithless" universe, Jonah's character arc takes center stage, influenced by the tragic loss of his best friend in the first episode.

Morris's remarkable performance breathes life into this complex character, driving the narrative with his powerful presence and enigmatic persona.

''The death of Benja who was Jonah’s best friend in the first episode is the inciting incident, as to what Jonah is going to do in the entire show, because of the death of his friends Jonah is disillusioned by his loyalty to his father and he makes rash decisions here and there, that end up having consequences on the overall events of everyone in the film.''

Morris's artistic journey spans over seven years, during which he honed his craft both on stage and screen. He had his first taste of the spotlight in stage productions, where he truly found his calling.

From mesmerizing audiences in productions like "Sarafina" and "Mekatilili" at Braeburn Theatre to captivating performances in "The Jungle Book" at Odeon Center and "Robin Hood" at Oshwal Center with Aperture, Morris's talent as a stage actor was undeniable.

Noteworthy credits include "1886" and "Viva" at Braeburn with Khweva and the captivating "Lwanda Rockman" at the Kenya National Theatre in 2019, showcasing his incredible range and dedication to his craft.

Morris The Actor (Baba Twins 2021)
Image: Courtesy

However, when the pandemic struck, Morris had to adapt to the changing landscape of the industry. Transitioning to the screen, he embraced new opportunities, starring in projects such as "You Again," "Famous," and the horror film "Run Mary Run" for Maisha Magic.

His inclusion in "Faithless" marks a significant milestone in his career, as he shares the screen with an exceptional cast, solidifying his position as one of Kenya's rising stars.

What sets Morris apart as an individual and artist is his unwavering commitment to authenticity and honesty. He firmly believes that staying true to oneself is the ultimate selling point.

Morris's self-assuredness allows him to embrace failure and view it as a stepping stone to growth. To him, failure is still a form of art, and he encourages fellow artists to fail gracefully, armed with confidence in their unique perspectives and ideas.

''Coming up has no formular, people should stop breaking it down into a mathematical formular, that if do abcd go somewhere talk to somebody its gonna happen for me, the only thing you can do is be yourself , trust your ideas , and if you are going to fail it is still artistic, its art, fail like an artist, fail gracefully.''

Reflecting on the Kenyan film industry, Morris acknowledges its infancy, describing it as a growing baby that shows immense potential. He believes that anyone with the passion and drive can seize the opportunities available.

Morris The Actor, Faithless screening
Image: Courtesy

However, he challenges his peers to shift their focus from complaining about the industry's challenges to obsessing over finding solutions. Morris emphasizes the need for legislation, financial sustainability, and the development of a culture where local content is valued and supported.

''People just need to shut the f**k up, and not talk about the problems but rather be obsessed with solutions, everybody can name at least 10 problems that are wrong with our industry but how many at least have two solutions to any of those problems?''

While acknowledging the existing hurdles, Morris remains optimistic about the industry's future, urging fellow artists to have faith and persevere.

In Morris's view, there is no formula for success in the Kenyan arts scene. He urges aspiring artists to trust their ideas, embrace their uniqueness, and hold on to their faith.

Despite the hardships and exhaustion that often accompany the artistic journey, Morris encourages young talents to stay true to themselves, knowing that they are the secret ingredient that sets them apart.

Morris The Actor (Famous) 2021
Image: Courtesy / Showmax

As Morris the Actor continues to make waves in the Kenyan film industry, his unwavering passion, exceptional talent, and fearless approach to failure inspire aspiring artists to carve their own paths.

With each performance, he reinforces the belief that authenticity and self-confidence can propel one's artistic journey to extraordinary heights.

As we eagerly await his future endeavors, and the unfolding of  'Faithless' one thing remains clear: Morris the Actor is a force to be reckoned with, leaving an indelible mark on the ever-evolving landscape of Kenyan film industry.

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