Last week Friday, CNN’s “Inside Africa” program, hosted by Soni Methu, traveled 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.
Host, Soni Methu, explored what has been deemed the “Lupita Effect,” as she visited 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 would encourage many in Kenya to embrace the arts.
The program investigated reports on Kenyan Film Commission Chairman, Chris Foot, working at harnessing the Lupita effect by building up the local film industry and local content encouraging people to come and make movies in Kenya.
The show also visited the school where Lupita’s acting talent first revealed itself in drama lessons, as the host of the show met and spoke 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 CNN “Inside Africa” special is now available on the web, and I’ve embedded all 3 parts below for you to watch.