Anto Neosoul, real name Antony Mwangi, is a singer, songwriter, actor, radio presenter and a seasoned TV host.
He spoke to myNetwork and shared details about his background and career in the media industry.
We can figure out that Anto is a short form for Antony, but Neosoul… Tell us about it?
When I started out my music career, I had a lot of influence from Neo Soul artistes and many people would introduce me as “Anto mwenye hupenda Neosoul” ( Anto, who loves Neo Soul). That’s basically how I got the name.
You were born in 1985, a period associated with the birth of millennial generation. How was your grouping different from your older siblings?
My elder brother is three years older than me and you can definitely tell we come from different generations.
I have always been very unconventional, very vocal at home, at work, in all my social circles and very clear about the path I take, and this is clearly a huge millennial benefit depending on who you are dealing with.
Still on that, this year marks the unfolding of yet a new decade. If you could summarise your last decade in one line, what would you say?
Mine would be summarised to chips funga shuga! During the last decade, I released my most notoriously known song “Chips Funga” and also starred in a film that has forever changed the film and sexual reproductive health in the world forever – Shuga.
What do you think makes you special?
I do not think I am special, by thinking so, I would walk around demanding respect for the same!
What I am is that I have decided to meet my destiny one step at a time. I am constantly reminded that kids like me, those who come from the slums of Kawangware and beyond, do not have a place at the table, and what I have done is pull chairs at those tables, brought seats to those tables and where I am uninvited, I am building my own tables so that the lives of others can be special.
But as of now, there is nothing special about me.
Growing up, did you always want to be here? In dreadlocks performing on various stages and hosting a show?
I never knew I would be allowed to have dreadlocks in my mum’s house.
To have them, I had to convince a film producer to write my character with dreads so that I could have dreads. The film was never filmed!
What I did know, however, was that I would be on TV or my music on radio. I didn’t even envision being a radio presenter but here we are!
When I was nine, I performed for former President Moi and then-Cardinal Maurice Otunga. That marked the beginning of my journey.
At university, I studied journalism, which plays a critical role in my career.
How do you connect with the young people beyond broadcast?
I have been a part of the original judges for Talanta Mtaani, lectured in over five universities thanks to DigiTalk, where I covered branding in the digital age and in the past, self-sponsored a ‘Big Bro Tour’ in high schools to reach out and speak to young impressionable minds.
You are on radio, TV and I even saw a restaurant named after you. Are these opportunities handed to you or you are a chaser?
I am a go getter; I plan; I consult; I strategise and then I go to war!
I have an army of friends turned-business partners who I have had to sell my ideas to, and once they buy in then we begin to make things happen.
Most of the opportunities, though, have been as a result of my kindness to others.
Be kind, you never know who that person will turn out to be tomorrow and how their position could change your life forever.
Also, believe in God, pray, nothing can happen without God. Period.
What has been your most profound failure in life and did you learn from it?
My greatest failure has to be second guessing myself and not doing more.
Many times I have feared taking up a TV role or picking up an instrument, or refusing to learn design, or pausing my acting career, all thanks to imposter syndrome!
Greatest lesson? I have no apologies for being great at everything I do and for being me; I am exactly where I need to be and I can only get better.
Do you consider yourself successful?
I am not successful as most young people like to think of me. Success shouldn’t be personal; it must be equated to lives transformed because of the power and will of who one is in society!
What is your secret?
I guess I am one of those kids who had to be reminded or forced to eat. Even today, my mother still implores me to carry some packed food whenever I visit.
What is that highlight of your career that you love to toot?
To be honest, I cannot pin point the moment, whether it is touring Europe performing on stage, having a restaurant named after me, releasing an album, first African to have a Hennessy Artistry event, successful advertising and PR campaigns, awards, accolades, nominations or being on the same movie with Oscar award winner Lupita Nyong’o.
I can only look forward to what tomorrow holds for me.
Any advice for our readers?
Work on your self; we might be part of a bubbling unstoppable generation but our story is not monolithic; work on bettering you; stop comparing yourself to other people.