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Dear Actor,

How is the struggle of reaching those set goals? It’s not easy, right? But you can’t give up now.

The year 2003, I joined St. M. Kalemba SS Nazigo, Kayunga, a Catholic founded school. Prayers and song in the church was part of activities especially if one wanted to join the church choir. I joined singing tenor and participated in the inter-diocese music festivals and also made it to the national level. By then, I was just doing this because of my Catholic family background and never even thought about the fact that many years later I would become a performing artist.

I quit the choir because I become born again and joined another choir ‘God’s Chosen Lighters’ which was more about preaching the gospel. In 2006 (S.4), I didn’t like anything to do with performing arts but during the inter-house MDD competition and I had nothing I was doing for ‘Kibuuka’ my house then but I happened to be in the room when a literature teacher was directing a drama/play for my house. I offered a few suggestions and they happened to work and I was made assistant director. This excited me so much. During the same competition, I met an external trainer, Kiyega Andrew (my papa), who had been brought by the school to guide the houses. I talked to him about helping me join any drama group since I had seen him in Bakayimbira play ‘THE SCHOOL CANTEEN’.

In my vacation, he introduced me to ‘SCAVENGERS’, a drama group that was rehearsing at Pride Theatre then. When I explained this to Maama Daaga (my mother), she accepted to give me transport every day from Entebbe to Namirembe road just to hang around those experienced actors (Chris Luwaga, Henry Mpinga Sempijja etc). This even inspired me more to love the arts.

In 2007 I Joined St. Peter’s SS Nsambya for A’level and I wanted PEM/TD (physics, economics, maths and technical drawing) since I professionally wanted to be an architect. The DOS completely refused and gave me HEG/Lug (history, economics, geo and literature in Luganda). I was bitter for 2 weeks until I realized the subjects given to me were driving me closer to artistic critical thinking especially the Luganda. I decided to enjoy the ride and started an MDD club. Right now, I thank God for all that hit me into the above path. It didn’t make sense then but it all does now! This is all painted with the topic of this letter. ‘YOU AND LUCK’

The above paragraph of my episode of life has LUCK scattered here and there. To some people, they will call it coincidences because that’s what I also thought then until I understand the factor ‘LUCK’ in our work as actors. I was lucky to go to the schools I attended because they had performing activities, I was lucky to be in that room and offer suggestions which were luckily accepted by the proudest literature teacher in the school, I was lucky to talk to Kiyega and he accepted to help me out of all the students in the school, I was lucky to be a son to a woman who accepted to give me transport for rehearsals every day because I have met many people who tell me their parents would even lock them inside the house to keep them from arts, I was lucky to be forced to do the subjects I did at A’ level because in Luganda we read novels and plays which definitely helped me a lot in reading scripts in radio drama acting etc. I was lucky to have studied Drama and Film for my bachelor’s degree and Makerere.

Many times you have asked yourself a question, ‘WHEN DO I GET MY BREAKTHROUGH AS AN ACTOR?’ I have always told you to your face that, ‘NO ONE SHOULD LIE TO YOU THAT AT SUCH AN AGE OR EXPERIENCE IN THE BUSINESS YOU WILL GET YOUR BREAKTHROUGH!’ We call it ‘OKUSABA AKAGGI’ (KICKING THE DOOR). I have seen actors who get a breakthrough at 50 and others at 10 years old.

The things we do to take us to the next level are mostly our efforts to keep us from saying, ‘at least I just didn’t sit there and wait, I worked and did this did that but things just didn’t work out!’ Everyone wants to see themselves shine and celebrated, treasured and honoured by clients and award as best in what they do, have a huge fan base etc. but it’s not yet your time. When you joined the business, your excitement was too high because someone had told you how easy it would be for you to make it as an actor but many years down the ROUGH ROAD, you have not seen a lot of change in your career. It’s frustrating and you are losing hope each and every day because you see people you have not seen before running passed you and they are shining. You have auditioned many times, been rejected many times that you stopped counting and when you are accepted, the project never lives beyond rehearsals and if it does, it’s never premiered. You have many friends but every time you meet them they tell you good things about their progress and you are envious. This makes you stop coming out to meet people in the business because you feel you are ashamed of zero progress. You have sought advice on how to improve your acting and visibility, you have researched and practised in front of the mirror, copied all acting techniques but nothing seems to be shifting. Your parents, friends and relatives are tired of seeing you in a state of no progress yet your age is zooming and they keep looking at you as a disappointment and you have decided to let go of them in order to believe in the dream! Please Just HOLD ON!

I want you to understand that the biggest factor in our work, ‘LUCK’. You can be the most talented and gifted human on earth but luck determines your success. I have seen actors who got their very first acting gig being a huge project and they have never suffered their entire career even if their acting is not that ‘outstanding’. I have also seen very talented actors who have been struggling 10 years before I joined the business and they are still struggling until I don’t know when. Sometimes I look at some of them and keep asking myself, ‘HOW THE HECK ARE THEY STILL HANGING ON?’ but then again we look up to them and admire them for being here and remaining unshaken even if their luck has not yet knocked. If it’s not yet your time to ‘kusaba kaggi’ (not your lucky day), even if you sacrifice all the doves and pigeons in the world, you won’t make it through. That project may seem the best for you to shine that year, because you did all your parts to your fullest and you feel it deep inside that the world is going to know you but since it’s not the lucky project, you will only get an honourable mention if any. But after that award gala, you walk away with nothing. It’s not yet your lucky day.

As you wait on your day to be lucky just remember the following;

– You are already lucky to have been born, – You are lucky to have a supportive family and friends- You are lucky to have been in the acting business this long- You are lucky that you actually know some people in the business- You are lucky that you are seeing this long letter to you- You are lucky that you are still breathing to see yourself and the business grow and one day you will be counted as one of those who stood firm even when it was too hard.

‘ATANAFFA TEYEEVUMA NSI!’ (Don’t say you are unlucky when you are still alive and kicking). Don’t weep and lament, keep working so hard so that your luck finds you battling on your way to greatness and it will indeed be a heavy SIGH!!!

Thank you for reading this too and see you at the best side of acting.

I remain yours lovely.

Lover of Actors,

Kasule Douglas ‘Benda’

Founder of Benda Bookings


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