Meet the eloquent and seriously hilarious Herve Kimenyi who happens to be a comedian, actor, and news anchor at Radio 10 all at the same time.
In an interview with The New Times, the 28-year-old described how he juggles between all these roles he is so passionate about.
“Being on stage, reading news, and acting in movies is like living three different lives. I don’t sleep much since I have several meetings a day, a show to put in order, news to read, and acting courses to attend but I balance it all even though managing time is still a great challenge,” Kimenyi explained.
He acted in Grey Matter, a Rwandan feature- length film by Kivu Ruhorahoza. The movie portrayed the deep impact of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi on people’s lives and how the survivors struggle to move on.
“As an artist, I mainly do theatre especially stand up comedy with ‘Comedy Nights’ every Monday at Ishyo Theatre Hall. I weirdly started out as a dancer - dancing to hip-hop with a crew known as ‘Cool Family’ – but that was like ten years ago. We were young and had all sorts of dreams. I was later introduced to theatre,” Kimenyi narrated.
Comedy night has had a consistent huge audience in Kigali and given what Kimenyi and his team have to offer, one can clearly see why.
“When you really love what you do, you do it well,” said the comedian.
Asked how he gauges the entertainment industry in Rwanda, he said, “It has the potential to be rich although people take it for granted. Earlier, Rwanda was a cultural country with oral traditions, using dance to create art throughout its history. Currently, deciding to make a living from art is like suicide! Maybe not that extreme but it is a risk because people don’t take it as seriously as they should.”
“Even if you hit big on your own as an artist, there is no recognition whatsoever. For example, there was a contemporary dance group called Amizero Kompagnie that participated in the 6th Games of Francophonie in Lebanon in September 2009. Out of 16 countries, they won Rwanda a silver medal with the play “Baho” choreographed by Wesley Ruzibiza. This competition is considered the Olympics of Arts. These guys where recognized everywhere except in own home. Not a single person was waiting to welcome them back and congratulate them on their achievement,” Kimenyi complains.
He added that parents and teachers should know that talent is actually a money making machine and not just the subjects taught in school.
“Creativity in schools should be right up there with mathematics, literacy, and science. In most cases, a kids’ creativity is squashed the second it surfaces because it has nothing to do with Algebra! The core of the school system does not support creativity but considers it an option in life which is wrong because the entertainment business is a billion dollar industry,” Kimenyi expressed.
He narrated how his father reacted when he got the news that he was in theatre.
“My father didn’t talk to me for six months because I had quit university and embraced something I actually enjoyed doing. It was bad because we lived in the same house at the time. Today, when he attends the shows I’m performing in, he has this huge grin on his face, literally telling people around him ‘that’s my boy’. He also helps me get the prospectus to various art schools,” Kimenyi revealed.
At the age of 8, Kimenyi realise he was born to be an artist – he attributes this calling to the movies he watched.
“I used to write and practice my Oscar acceptance speech in front of the mirror with a water bottle as my microphone. I even knew what moment to cry. I just wish someone filmed that, it was hilarious. I know that an Oscar is a great thing but it’s not the ultimate achievement because it’s not a legacy. You can win an Oscar for a role you played in your first movie but people with lifetime achievements have spent years in the industry and have proof of how the industry changed their lives in an inspiring way. That’s pretty much what I want now,” Kimenyi said.
He spends most of his free time reading and watching movies.
“People forget that they are our inspiration. When people relate to you, you have a responsibility to carry the right message. However, sometimes you are required to say what they don’t want to hear,” concluded Kimenyi.