Reality TV, game or curse?

Game shows have graced our screens for an impressive number of years, with a number producing renowned acts, in the local entertainment industry. But it’s not always the fairy tale they proposes to be, given that most of them have been given the axe, writes Grace Wachira and Wambui Virginia.

Reality TV, game or curse? About a decade back, 254 got its first taste of reality TV with the birth of musical show Tusker Project Fame (TPF). While the show has had massive success stories such as celebrated duo Amos & Josh, songstress Amelina, who has gone on to work with the crème of the local entertainment industry, winner and songstress Ruth Matete — a number of personalities, who were shinning stars on the show, even winners from past editions, have gone under.

CURSE OF FAME?

Take Valarie Kimani, who won the first edition of TPF in 2006. The beauty went on to release her debut album in the following year, and even dabbled in acting when she landed a role in MTV’s Shuga.

The bright star, however, dimmed, when word got out that she was having an affair with a veteran of the entertainment industry. Valarie later relocated to the US where she currently resides and, with the move, kicked her budding career, to the curb.

Season Five winner, Ruth Matete, also got her share of the curse of fame as blogs attacked her, claiming she had misused her cash prize of Sh5 million, and was now, broke. The TPF winner now has a music academy where she trains aspiring musicians.

“It was not easy being a TPF winner as fans had many expectations. I had to make a lot of decisions because at the same time I didn’t want to compromise my faith. Currently, I am a minister of the gospel, and I aim to touch and transform lives through music and bringing souls to God’s kingdom,” shares Ruth.

Other past winners such as Uganda’s Esther Mugizi, Davis Hillary Ntare, to name but a few, are some of the artistes that we heard little from after the show. On the other hand, there were contestants who never won, but have managed to flagship their careers to new heights. The show, like so many others of the same stature, was not the only one that saw stars rise and fall.

Sema was yet another group that won Coca Cola Popstars in 2005 and soon after, the band went their separate ways. Kevin and Pam who were part of the group disappeared from the scene leaving only the celebrated songstress Sanaipei Tande to take over the airwaves.

The Mfalme Wa Mapenzi hit maker has gone on to prove her music prowess time and again, and is currently riding high on her hit just recently, Amina.

THE GAME

At only 19, Edith Kimani graced our screens after she emerged the winner of game show, The Presenter. Those few months of being on the show propelled her to what she has now become. Currently, she is the Deutsche Welle East African correspondent.

“I showed up, went through the audition and that’s how I started my career. When I won, it was something that had never been done before. I was just 19 and was in a newsroom and I did not know what was expected of me or what to do,” said a gleeful Edith. FBI Dance Crew are yet another success story after their big win from the second edition of the Sakata Dance Competition.

The band went on to garner worlwide recognition, and as their crew member Ezra intimates, they are not about to lose their lustre. “FBI is doing great. After scooping the prize, we did not want to be content.

We expanded our fan base and started taking part in international dance competitions,” says Ezra. FBI attended dance battles in South Africa and France, which they won and took part in yet another in the US.

“The publicity we got on Sakata was essential for our brand. Once we left the show, it was up to us to make good use of the fame and establish a stable career. We took our brand beyond the continent. We also started our own show called Mzuka Dance Battle, where guys compete for a cash prize and at the end of this year, we will hold a dance awards show,” he said.

Ezra says that the relevance of their brand is continuously invested through reinvention and visibility. “There is immense pressure in being in the spotlight, but we are keeping our eyes on the big picture.

It’s a pity not all of us have the kind of resilience needed to survive in the industry. We are here to stay and nothing said against us will stop us from being the best,” he told Spice.

Maisha Superstar winner Phyllis Mwihaki Ng’etich, also known as Phy, is the perfect example of resillience, as the talented star not only came in second at the Airtel Trace Music Star competition, won Maisha Superstar Competition, but also went on to release her debut album.

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