“People are interested in what we do, not who we are”

Saturday January 23 2021
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Philip Luswata is the founder of the Theatre Factory, which later gave birth to the star-studded Fun Factory. PHOTO/NET

By Nicolas Akasula

In your view, what impact has pandemic had on the creative artists?

Covid has given time and the necessary silence to the creative industry to review experiences and generate better ideas. Personally, I have been busy and I have worked on full series.

Any memorable experience that shaped your career? 

One time, I was identified by a man on the street, who had watched a commercial I had done about the land bill in the 1990’s. However, he said he disliked the message in the commercial but liked my acting skills. I was paid Shs30,000 for that advert, but here he was, gifting me Shs20,000. Since that day, this stranger’s gesture shaped the way I relate with people. I learnt that people look out for what we do and not who we are.

What has been your worst moment in life?

It wasn’t the worst per se, but I can call it the lowest. From a professional point of view, when my students (the Fun Factory) went, it was very disappointing. Their leaving was not a crime, but the subsequent events are not something to write home about.  

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Who is your favourite actor?

An actor who appreciates the discipline of the craft. One that never gets carried away by the fame and rewards but remains steadfast and determined to do even better. That is my favourite actor.

If you had a platform to speak to 100 youths, what would you tell them?

We are sold a lie that we can achieve our dreams in a very short time. Some motivational speakers have also fuelled this by telling us that you have to move at rocket speed. But we are different and there’s room for all of us. Some people are fast, others moderate and others slow. Take one day at a time.

What legacy would you like to leave?

Recently, Alex Mukulu challenged me that if God asked me to make a wish before I died, what would that be? It was such a puzzle. After working in this industry for 25 years, I am glad that you will go to many parts of the world, and you will meet somebody who will say Luswata influenced what I do, and how I do it. There is no better legacy than that.

If you had to meet anyone before you die, who would that be and why?

Surprisingly I have no idol I fancy to meet, except Jesus Christ. In fact the people I always want to sit and have a chat with are very strange. You can find me seated with a village drunkard, and we are having a very lit conversation.

If you were in position to influence policies, what would you do different for the  arts industry?

Government need to appreciate that we cannot do away with art. We need to harness talents instead of stifling it. For instance, the National Curriculum Development Centre says they want to make literature and art optional. You cannot make people’s ways of expression optional. Ugandans should be supported to be great talents in whichever field they choose.

What has the film industry taught you over the years?

Patience. If you walk in with the mentality of hitting a lottery jackpot so fast, it may not work. You must be in love with the process and not the end.

What do you find attractive in a woman?

I would allow nature to take its course. But a great conservationist and a patient woman would be my catch.

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