Today, we get to hang with Grace Irungu, a budding screenwriter who’s had her script commissioned by MNET. She’s currently writing for the hilarious Real House Helps of Kawangware that airs on KTN as well as ‘Uriru wa Wendo’ on Inooro TV. She’s an alumna of the competitive Maisha Film Lab and describes herself as a child of God, free-spirit, creative, vivacious kind-hearted young lady with a great sense of humour. Her skills and experiences range from screenwriting to managing the entire production. She’s an alumna of Kampala University where she completed her Mass Communication degree. Grace is a passionate storyteller who has made film and screenwriting her primary profession, enough to make a living in what is essentially a very difficult industry to survive in, which is in itself a laudable feat.
What’s your story? How did you get into film? How did you get started?
Actually, I have always loved drama from a young age, I used to be active in reciting poems while in primary school, in high school I was active in drama and did a bit of acting while in campus my focus was more on debate. I studied for a degree in Mass Communication from Kampala University where some course units fascinated me, drawing me towards film. My sister Damaris Irungu- Ochieng who’s also in the industry influenced me greatly to venture in screenwriting, she mentored me and once I started script writing I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What projects have you worked on in the past?
Where do I start? My first writing gig was Waridi on Citizen TV. I have worked as a scriptwriter/ story developer and head writer on a couple of locals shows such as Mali, Pendo, Stay, Tabasamu, Mabeste, and Machachari. I also worked on my short Film ‘Gift’ and my feature film ‘MZIA MAZI’ as a writer/ executive producer. I realized in this industry its best if you can multi-task hence I also produce.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am script writing for the Real House Helps of Kawangware on KTN and ‘Uriru wa Wendo’ on Inooro TV. I’m also working on my feature film MIKAL among other projects.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Oh my! Funding. If only it was easier to get funding for my projects I would be happier in the industry. Another challenge is rates, it’s a shame that standard rates for script writing are going down instead of upwards.
Tell me about a project that you’ve worked on that is especially special to you.
One would have to be my feature Film ‘MZIA MAZI’ which was commissioned by Mnet under Maisha Magic East. It was a success because it was the first independent project I got funding for, I would do it over and over again.
Another project is the ‘REAL HOUSE HELPS OF KAWANGWARE’ making people laugh on screen is the hardest job and writing for this show has made me appreciate comedy as a genre and learn so much. It’s also among the most popular shows on local TV and I’m proud to be part of the team.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Hanging out with friends and family, reading a good book, watching captivating series’ and visiting new places.
What’s your grand plan? Where would you like your career to be in five to ten years?
I would love to have my shows commissioned on local stations, have at least three of my films shot and screened at international festivals and of course be acknowledged internationally at the Oscars for my work.
Where would you like Kenya’s film industry to be and what changes do you think need to be implemented for that to happen?
I would love to see more of great content that can travel beyond local stations on our screens, more serious and mature content for a broad appeal. Local producers and stations should fund great quality shows and stop complaining about low budgets each time, it’s annoying. Local companies, the Kenya Film Commission, and other investors should also be more receptive to come on board to sponsor great local shows.
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