Updated: Jul 20
It’s hard to be in the creative industry in Uganda and not know Mr. Wawuyo Sr (Uncle Mike). His bio is envious, as he has worked on some of the major productions that have made their way through town. He can create almost anything with his hands. It’s fascinating. He creates sets and stages that you regret taking down after the work is done because it is so good.
My first encounter with his was as an actor. He was doubling as set designer and actor for a production that we were both apart of and quite frankly he was my sanity while on that set. I remember this one particular moment when I lost my cool because of a disagreement and he came and spoke to me so reassuringly. He opened up to me about his own struggles and how he navigated the very same tussle in the industry. I was new to the whole ball game in Uganda so hearing him, a renowned artist share with me how hoped over his obstacles was a major needed mentoring moment.
He told me, “If you leave this production, I might as well leave it too but then what. We are a team; let’s work as a team because this production is only as strong as we are. Be strong”. Be strong, he said. I realized that as a lead actor, how I behaved and conducted myself in a production had immense power to make or break the production. Even though my disagreement was valid, other crew and cast members were perhaps also coming to work because I was coming to work. To revolt would cause a ripple effect and yet most people needed the job. Who knew when the next paying gig would come? We either do this right or we all leave.
During that production, alongside Mr. Wawuyo I learned that I determine the atmosphere that I work in. I can sow Joy, encouragement and problem solving or I can sow discord and rebellion just by my attitude. Being a lead actor or producer of a project is a lot more than just getting your lines and showing up early. It’s the above and positive, nurturing heart posture. You gotta lead with everything outside and inside. I’ve had the amazing benefit of working with Uncle Mike many times and there is so much to glean from him but this particular lesson has never left me.