Lead Actor, The Boy who Harnessed the Wind
Pan Africanism Advocate
Lions should always stay in the jungle and kept far away from people as possible, but then this cannot be the case when the lion is too massive and has mastered the art to conquer not only the jungle but also the rest of the world. This is the story of Maxwell Simba. Unlike my previous guests who were in the same vicinity with me, Simba is oceans away so we have to hop on a video call. We cruise through his busy schedule and settle on this Monday afternoon. He tells me it is early morning on his side of the world and that is the only time he has in the entire week as he is also recovering from a very engaged weekend.
Looking at the screen of my laptop I can see a well-built man, a sharp contrast to the Maxwell Simba, the Chairman Christian Union of Alliance High School 2018 who was lean and one you could easily mistake for a Form One. He is seated confidently in his college room and I can see the radiant rays of the Fall sun through his window. Definitely this brotherman is living life in the first lane. After sharing some jokes and memories, we moved straight to my questions which I must admit were elaborately answered probably except for the part where he was to declare his availability in the vast market of the grazing field for the benefit of the female readers, or do we say active players in the free market of romance? There we go, enjoy!
GIVE US A BRIEF INTRODUCTION AND YOUR LIFE STORY
I was born and raised in Kitale. I have my mother and two sisters forming our family. My early life is confined in Kitale all the way until high school when I get a chance to attend Alliance High School. I was involved in theatre at the church in my early life, where I took part in drama and short skits just for the church at home but nothing serious. When I joined Alliance, my acting talent was natured to the fullest as there existed myriad of drama opportunities from Inter House Drama through Form 1 Drama and Inter School Drama Festivals. It was at Alliance that I got selected to be part of the cast in film ‘The Boy who Harnessed the Wind’ in 2017. I graduated from Alliance in 2018, and later attended African Leadership Academy. Currently I am pursuing my Undergrad.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR TIME FILMING THE MOVIE THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND AND WHAT LIFE HAS BEEN AFTER THAT
The movie was filmed in Malawi and this was a definitive moment in my life and career. I had done theatre before but this was so new and intriguing. I enjoyed the process of casting this movie because of the great fellow casters such as my director. I met extremely brilliant and talented actors from around the world who also formed part of the cast and through them I learnt so much about the type of actor I wanted to be. After finishing the shoots, I went back home in Kenya to finish my high school education at Alliance. So much did not change at Alliance and to them (the Alliance community), I remained the old Maxwell that they had known all along. After the movie was released, I started drawing a lot of attention and became some sort of a celebrity. Well, I do not define myself as a celebrity though. I attended interviews across the globe and interacted with filmmakers from all corners of the world. I however try to maintain a status of a common man and low profile and that the fame has not changed how interact with my family and friends. After the film, I got a chance to attend an acting school, The Mason Gross School of Arts in The US because I had not studied theatre before. I learnt so much about acting skills and techniques not forgetting the much needed exposure. All this became possible because of my participation in ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. I describe myself as an actor by the will of God and an artist, nothing beyond that. I own a studio called Young Black and Talented Vision Studio, a film making studio which is envisioning the film making in the continent transitioning to telling authentic African stories by Africans and telling the stories that have been forsaken or pushed back in the continent. This is a vision that I aspire to carry along in my journey in art.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TIME AT THE AFRICAN LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
The mission of ALA is to develop the next generation of African leaders who will transform the future of the continent. I believe this is such a huge commitment and I respect ALA for it does it so well. ALA allowed me to grow as a leader with the Pan African dream. For me, it was a turning point from being a Kenyan to being an African citizen being committed to the future of the continent. I also started my studio vision at ALA, and this particular vision is something I would love to pursue for a long term. I believe there is so much more to be achieved and this inspires me abundantly and the notion that I can dream of something and pursue it, be it in art or Engineering which is something that I am passionate about and I am pursuing academically.
WHAT COLLEGE DO YOU ATTEND AND HOW IS THE EXPERIENCE?
While trying to be careful not to eat more than I can chew, I will appreciate if it is known that my college is an Ivy League and nothing more into the specifics. I believe that is not too little neither is it too much (laughs). It is a great institution with massive support as opposed to other Ivies generally. It is brilliant by all standards and it has allowed me to grow in empathy and how I approach learning.
YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM SUCCESS. GIVE US THE SECRET.
I am a firm Christian believer and a lot of it is attributed to Grace. I really want to be careful not to fall into the ship of those who have fashioned this to be a cliché. For me, I believe that it is God who designed this particular part of my life to turn out this way. I am leaning to understanding Him and His directions and then functioning from that point into the effort that I put in. I would say that my success as you call it is attributed to God and Him locating me where I was for these opportunities. That notwithstanding, it will be important to say that none of these opportunities just found me sitting around and waiting on God. They found me actively working hard and I therefore I also attribute all these to meritocracy.
WHAT DO YOU TELL TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OUT THERE
Oooh well, it is great to be young. Very great indeed. But that comes with an understanding that there would come a time when we will be older. Our young years are our formative years on the people become when we are older career wise, goals and ambitions. Partying is fun but it comes with a great responsibility of taking charge of our lives and stop being reliant on the fact that we are young as an excuse of being laid back. We can have all the fun that we want but at the end of the day we need to have goals and visions we are working towards. Above all, let us educate ourselves because like never before, there are so many platforms offering training of skills. So well if you are going to start a business, do it and fail and learn from it. Let us learn to do things instead of just staying in the comfort zones and this is the reality. Come on!
My biggest fear is fear itself. Fear of doing or not doing something. That feeling of fear carries a lot of uncertainties.
Launch of ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’. It was very definitive and many people now knew my name everywhere in the world. In 2020, I attended a movie premier in South Africa, a fete attended by the CEO of Netflix and he came to say hello. Well he remembered me even though Netflix releases a lot of movies. Mahn, this was great.
I want to tour Kenya in its entirety and then tour Zanzibar. After that, I can tour the continent of Africa before deciding on where else outside the continent I would wanna go.
BIGGEST CELEBRITY CRUSH?
I could easily say Nikita Kering, not in a romantic sense but just the admiration. This is because of her hard work which is evident with the quality of her music.
YOUR ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP(S)
I am currently not in the market (laughs)
Unlike any other generations before, ours has come at a time when there is huge access to information and this empowers us a lot. This is something that we can use to advocate for positive change. We have huge numbers to take part in politics in as much as the young people can claim not to be interested in politics but it is a fact that politics is interested in us because it affects our daily lives through policies and decisions. The youths can use the resources to improve our country and let us advocate for these changes. Cheers guys!
And y’all should really appreciate me for bringing the lion on board, it was not easy pinning him down in his den (laughs)