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CNN’s ‘Inside Africa’ Program Travels to Kenya to Explore “The Lupita Effect” on the Country’s Film Industry

CNN's 'Inside Africa' Program Travels to Kenya to Explore "The Lupita Effect" on the Country's Film Industry

I just learned that, today at 19:30 GMT, which is around 3:30pm EST, CNN’s “Inside Africa” program, hosted by Soni Methu, will travel to Kenya to discover how the Kenyan film industry is harnessing the seemingly universal awareness and appreciation of Lupita Nyong’o (who is Kenyan, in case you didn’t already know), to assist in continuing to build itself up.

I’ve actually never watched “Inside Africa” on my TV screen. I don’t think it even airs on CNN here in the USA – certainly not during daytime hours. I typically catch up on stories on the program’s website, which you can also do here, if it’s not a program that airs in whatever country you live. 

There’s no preview, but I’m told host, Soni Methu, will, amongst other things, explore what has been deemed the “Lupita Effect,” as she visits David Opondoe, managing director of Phoenix Players, a Kenya-based theater company where Nyong’o performed earlier in her career, and who said, after Lupita’s Oscar win, that her success will encourage many in Kenya to embrace the arts. He has even previously shared the stage with Lupita in an earlier production.

The program will also investigate reports that the South African TV channel M-Net has since commissioned more than 50 films from Kenya for its Africa Magic platform available on digital and satellite TV across the continent. According to the Kenyan Film Commission Chairman, Chris Foot, the commission is also working at harnessing the Lupita effect by building up the local film industry and local content and encouraging people to come and make movies in Kenya.

The show will visit the school where Lupita’s acting talent first revealed itself in drama lessons, as the host of the show meets and speaks with a new generation of students seeking to follow in her footsteps.

“You are the pride of Africa,” Kenya’s president posted on Twitter the day Lupita won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “12 Years a Slave.”

She soon became the topic of the day/week/month/year on Kenya’s radio and TV stations. At a UN conference in Nairobi, more than 300 people broke out into applause after Wanjira Maathai – the daughter of the late Kenyan Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai – mentioned her mother and Nyong’o’s name in the same sentence. “We all had hoped, of course, that she would win. Everybody feels a sudden attachment to her, she’s a Kenyan woman,” Maathai said in an interview later. “A lot of her work, a lot of her experience in film started in Kenya.”

The pressure… 

But as soon as the CNN “Inside Africa” special becomes available on the web, I’ll share it here.

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Many moons ago when I had cable, I seem to remember a show on CNN that had news, current events and human interest stories every Sunday afternoon. I honestly cannot remember what time period but I think it ended in the early 00s. In fact, at that time CNN seemed to have a raft of global programming and Christiane Amanpour was also a major presence on the network back then. I guess all of that got shifted to CNN International.

In terms of the Lupita effect, while I am glad this is spurring Kenya to invest more in their arts initiatives, I find it kind of disheartening when countries don't recognize homegrown talent until that person goes abroad and finds recognition elsewhere. I understand that Kenya has other issues to contend with and must decide where to spend her dollars and Lupita would probably have found success abroad regardless, but I wish they had made the commitment to their talent before instead of relying on recognition from Europe and America before making the decision.
Better late than never though.


Inside Africa comes on International CNN channel.

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