Edward Nyanaro is a Kenyan model, singer, voice over artist, actor and talent agent. He is one of the current young minds that tap into their creativity and try to make the best of it, including giving opportunities to other young folks.
Edward has featured in shows such as: Lies That Bind, Shuga, Mali and Sumu La Penzi. He is also the marketing manager and founder of the talent agency, 254 Talent Management.
In featuring his story, I wanted to find out what the journey has been like for one who aims to make others’ dreams come true.
Name: Edward Nyanaro
Occupation: I am a singer with Fiesta Milele accapella group, actor – currently on Africa Magic Swahili’s Sumu La Penzi, commercial model, voice over artist and casting agent with 254 Talent Management.
What does your job as a casting agent involve?
My job entails fitting models to briefs that I get from clients and sending them to audition and book the available jobs. I send photos of models to clients for approval especially for print adverts, making sure they are dressed according to briefs given by the clients and ensuring they keep time for the auditions. I also negotiate pricing for the models for either runway or commercial castings.
How long have you modeled for?
I’ve been modelling since March of 2009 to date, say five years now.
What did you do before modelling?
I started modeling when I was still working for an insurance company, CFC Life Insurance from late 2007 before which I hawked in Nairobi for three weeks hence getting my job in insurance.
Insurance and modelling, any similarities?
The similarity would be having to sell something in different perspectives. In modeling, the selling stops at the last flash of a camera while in insurance, it goes on day in day out.
What are the main differences between the two?
Insurance had serious targets to meet every week. I was a busy young guy who sold life insurance, personal accident covers,medical covers, air travel insurance, car insurance yet modeling is graceful. Taking photos in different outfits with a smile is what I remember I first did before I started booking adverts from TV commercials to print then billboards.
What are the best things about modelling?
The best would be booking adverts, that’s the most fulfilling period. Of course there’s the time on set where you are well taken care of (pampered) then the time the advert is out, running on either TV or up on a billboard then comes the attention :).
And what are the most common misconceptions about the job?
People tend to think it’s so easy and they come in expecting things to look up overnight. This is not the case, it calls for patience, focus, commitment and investing yourself in photography. One also needs to learn from materials like magazines, online websites as well as watching TV programs that are fashion oriented for runway models.
Do male models have it tougher than the females in the industry?
Yes and no depending on the type of modelling. For commercial modelling it’s a level playing field regardless of whether you’re male or female. However, more females take the runway as opposed to their male counterparts.
Is modelling/being an agent your life’s purpose?
Yes it is, that’s why I started 254 Talent Management, to be able to connect the best Kenyan models to New York in the USA and other continents where they may get the opportunities to live their dreams.
What do you wish most people knew about modelling?
That it is a job not a past time activity.
Do you regret your time in insurance?
No I don’t. In fact, I thank God for it nurtured me to be a business person, improved my interpersonal relations and gave me bounty of experience that’s been of great value to-date.
Adventure, what are your greatest indulgences?
I love swimming a lot. It’s both fun and keeps me fit.
Travel; what are three places you’d like to visit?
Hollywood – it’s legendary. I hope that as an actor, if I won’t get there, I will just visit one day the same way Lupita made it. Since I worked with her in MTV Shuga 2, it doesn’t look that far-fetched a dream but one that could come true someday.
Disneyland – it’s been on my mind since childhood, I would love to relinquish my childhood dreams.
Paris – is the land of fashion and it has remarkable sights which I would love to tour around. I’d also like to establish some contacts that I can work with as we have beautiful models here (in Kenya) who need a bridge to get there.
What’s the best way to spend your weekend?
I love watching movies, good comedies and some music to go along with it as well. That’s when I’m not performing with Fiesta Milele.
Best way to hang with “the boys”?
Catching up after a long time with everyone, getting to know what’s new, probably over a drink.
Do you have any cooking skills?
Yes. I’ve got some good hands: pilau, ugali, sukuma wiki (kales) and some meat here and there. I can’t bake though.
What are your favourite drinks?
I love yogurt – vanilla or mango flavors preferably, but, vanilla milkshake is a favourite.
As a talent agent, what tips would you give to young creative minds out there?
It is time to create more opportunities and employment, not to look for employment. The sooner you realise this, the better. Then get down and innovative on how you can do that with the skills you have acquired in any of the training you have previously received.
And any advice to aspiring models specifically?
I love this mantra by an actress friend of mine, Continua Sly, she says: Begin Believe Become. Following it, you will be a success story to others. Learn your craft well, research where possible, persist and hang around people who encourage you. Also, get a mentor and challenge yourself to do more every other day by making short term goals and long term ones with clear dates of expiration.
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge who’s been a great source of influence?
I would like to thank:
Robinson Nyakundi, my brother who believed in me and even financed my enrollment in a modeling agency.
Oliver of Versatile Models for the commercials booked with his agency when I was there and still very green.
Lupita Nyongo & Alison Ngibuini for auditioning me and believing in me with the role Rayban in MTV SHUGA and
Carol Odongo, my director on Sumu La Penzi where I play the character Eric.