Kenya’s Fave Villain Ainea Ojiambo on Why He Fits the Bill
Ainea Ojiambo is perhaps Kenya’s most prominent and busiest TV bad guy, from his days in Makutano Junction, Nairobi Half Life and Demigods to his recent roles like the dirty cop Juma doing Nana Tandala’s (Sanaipei Tande) bidding in Maisha Magic’s telenovela Kina, and the crooked prison warden Musa in the thriller series Igiza. Ojiambo talks about his role in Showmax’s County 49, why he’s played villains for the better part of his career and more. Also, why he’s ready to play a romantic guy in his next role.
On why he is constantly cast as the bad guy Ojiambo says “Most directors think that I’m able to portray such characters so well. And you know what they say, If you can play a bad guy then you must be one of the best because playing a good guy is easy. Everybody can do it. Maybe it’s the authority that I have that makes me play those parts well. I study a lot of men in power, but I think maybe the roles find me because of my physique”
Over enthusiastic fans have viewed him as a villain in real life
“Like any good TV villain, I’ve had my fair share of hate from fans. “Being a bad guy also comes with the hate, and this has been the case from my days in Makutano Junction to Demigods to Igiza,” he says.
And if the first two episodes of County 49 are anything to go by, then his new character Okusimba is about to make some viewers really mad, if they aren’t clenching their jaws already. When we first meet him, Okusimba is facing criminal charges for abuse of office, treason and corruption (and more), an onslaught that was led by the new governor Nerimah Mkung (Wakio Mzenge).
Okusimba is a man who’s more interested in politics, power and money, than family, as Ojiambo describes him. He has a score to settle with the government, and his recent legal troubles, and unexpected conviction, strengthen this resolve, setting off a chain of events that threatens to bring Bwatele county to its knees.
“He feels betrayed, and he feels that the country owes him because he fought for it,” Ojiambo says.
Ojiambo finds Okusimba interesting in many ways. For instance, the way Okusimba’s monologues take him back to his early days on stage before he transitioned to TV. “I used to do a lot of Shakespeare when I was young,” he reveals. “And my character Okusimba does a lot of monologues where I have to change characters in between.”
With these monologues, Ojiambo says he’s had to dig deeper to capture the emotion that each scene demands.
When he first read the script for County 49, he called director Likarion Wainaina. He wanted to understand what Likarion saw in him that made him the perfect actor for such a role which he describes as his most challenging yet. “I want you to do something that you’ve never done before,” Likarion told him.
Likarion and Ojiambo have worked together before on stage, a few movie projects, and on the telenovela Kina, where Likarion directed some episodes in season one. “He’s one of the directors who really challenges me a lot, and who really understands me. Every time I do a project with him, there’s a new me that comes out,” Ojiambo says.
As he ponders his next role, Ojiambo jokes about moving away from bad guys to a more romantic role. “I think next time, I’ll go for an Alejandro type of character, a romantic guy so that I can show people I can also do romance, the kind of role that will make people cry when they see me frustrated in love,” he says.
Fun fact about Ojiambo: A licensed gun holder, he lent his weapon expertise to the cast of County 49, teaching them how to handle guns since the show is heavy on the action and gun fights.