Judy Ajwang alias Julia of Classmates TV show reveals why her character on screen remains largely unchanged in real life. She talks about bullying and her love for law:
You have featured in many shows and endorsement projects. How did this come to be?
Prior to joining Classmates, I was a thespian at the Kenya National Theatre. I also made appearances on Hullabaloo Show, which features on Africa Magic. I have also done a couple of commercials and endorsements for various brands including Imperial Paints and Selecta Bread.
Any memorable event with a fan/fans?
Majority of my fans are children. I recently went past a bunch of children and I could hear them whispering “is that the tough girl on Classmates?” They followed me silently until I reached my destination. Many don’t realise I actually speak the same way in real life.
Another memorable moment was when a parent requested to take my picture to surprise his Grade 3 son on his birthday.
What don’t you like about the local film industry?
I don’t like the fact that upcoming actors and actresses do not have a straight forward system to showcase their talent. Also, our industry does not pay as it should. You also have to know someone in order to get a shot in a major filming show, movie or comedy. This is a major concern.
Our talent is limited by the successful few who have made it. You are not good enough until you brush shoulders with the gurus.
Auditions are a lot of the time a façade.
How do you manage negative comments or reactions from the audience regarding your role?
I was bullied in primary school. This made me stronger. I learnt not to take things too seriously, but when it hurts, I walk away to clear my head and it works.
Some popular actors hide their identity or presence from social media yet this is where they can get opportunities related to their careers. Why is that?
Social media is not one of my strengths, I don’t do much at all. Call me old school. I know it’s a good platform, yet I don’t pay attention to it. Maybe someday I will. I also think it drains a lot from our social life and that’s not good.
You have a degree in development studies?
I am a social scientist and that’s all rounded out my life. The world is a social place thus everything we do we need to be social. I studied development studies and I have been involved in various charity services as well as volunteering with NGOs that offer the same.
Any motivation from actors who have capitalised on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and other social media platforms?
When you decide to mine for gold, it is not you that is mining alone, you need people, to be in the right place, patience, hard work and most of all, you ought to be careful otherwise you will not reap what you sow. YouTube is a good platform it will either bury you or carry you, what you do in between will determine your end product. Otherwise the confidence to do that is amazing.
Some TV producers are against uploading TV content on YouTube and other social media platforms for monetization. Why do you think that is?
I believe in this industry, the effort to produce, shoot and do all the production challenges may push them since their content may be pirated or stolen despite their trademarks.
Did you envision taking acting as a career?
No. I wanted to be a lawyer. I always fancied the name Judge Judy. Coincidentally there is someone with the same title. Luckily, characters require the same if not similar amount of toughness, which relates me to my dream career.
How does your family feel about your choice of career?
My major supporters and fans are my family, especially my mum, dad, brother, uncle, husband, and friends. They even send me audition updates, especially my mum and elder brother.
What don’t people know about you?
I can be quite shy.
Don’t force it! When it is right, you will have it. Do all you can.