At just 22 years old, Harun Momanyi has tapped into an unsaturated niche by becoming Kenya’s fast rising lifestyle and entertainment blogger, bringing us closer to the lives of celebrities, both local and international through articulate interviews on his website, www.momanyiharun.com.
Harun, inspired by his mom, started writing at only age ten. Was writing always his passion? No! His dream was to be a Pilot and he jokes about how he even bought a denim shirt branded ‘pilot’ on the breast pocket, which he would wear often. Like many of us, that dream changed and he followed his writing dream when he officially started blogging in 2012. What started as an inspirational blog with quotes has now become the to go to place for raw, authentic and first-hand interviews with the creme de la creme of the celebrity world.
OMGVoice caught up with the well spoken Writer for an interview on his inspirational journey:
OMGVoice: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Harun: Well, I’m currently juggling up a job as Branded Content Producer at Radio Africa Group, a Fashion course at Parsons School of Design, NewYork and my website.
OMGVoice: I’m curious, as a Writer, are you living your dream and does it pay the bills? *smiles*
Harun: Haha I get that question a lot! I am lucky to say that I am living my dream. I always wanted to work in the media. When it comes to the question of ‘Does it pay your bills’, I always say this: if you’re serious about your craft, you’ll ultimately get rewarded for it!
OMGVoice: You’ve probably had more access to local and international celebrities than any other journalist in Kenya. How do you do that and how did you start?
Harun: Thank you for the compliment. Honestly, I did not expect that I’d scale up my blog to be what it is today. My first interview was with my friend called Natasha. She was the vocalist on DNA’s song “Maswali Ya Polisi”.
I then approached a local actor called Trevor Gitonga. I went on to interview the late Zambian president’s daughter Stella Sata and kept on going. Now, it is a career development and consultancy platform through which I advise young Kenyans on how to go about personal development and career success. I do this through the interviews I have with CEOs, dancers, pageant winners…think of anyone with an inspiring story to tell. How I do it? I take risks! For example, when I approached Los Angeles based, world renowned music video director Hannah Lux Davis, I thought about it for almost three months. Calculated steps, courage and believing in myself have played a big part. I didn’t fret because she is Nicki Minaj’s BFF. I just took the shot. But before you reach such a level, be patient, take baby steps and start with the upcoming artist in your neighborhood. That mama mboga, approach her for her life story; tell it in a unique way. With time, you’ll be interviewing guys on the red carpet!
OMGVoice: Why celebrity interviews?
Harun: Celebrities…they are just like us. They are humans. Away from the glossy magazine cover shoots, the fast life, flashy cars…they go through a lot. They break up, fight, work day and night to succeed even more, need some company – they have a lot to share. That’s why I chose to tap my passion for entertainment and communicate their inspiring life stories. I want the young people who look up to them to know that life in the limelight is great, but it’s not what it looks like. There’s more to that. They need to work hard to achieve their goals. They need to avoid some of the mistakes these guys make. It’s a rare learning opportunity that I give to youth out there. Celebrities are influential and play a huge role in the society, and through their voice, I am privileged to highlight some of the issues that affect young people, primarily unemployment.
OMGVoice: Who are some of the celebrities you have had the chance to interview and who was your favorite?
Harun: I have been lucky to interview many guys, both locally and internationally. These include Sauti Sol, TV personality Anne Kiguta, BET award winning singer Eddy Kenzo, pop star Yemi Alade, Kiss FM’s Adelle Onyango, rapper K.O from South Africa, Face of Kenya USA 2015 Trina Njoroge and others. I also had the chance to interview US dancer Kim “Toshi” Davidson. He has performed worldwide with Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift and is currently on the road with Selena Gomez for her #RevivalTour. My most recent is with Susan Bennett, the voice of Siri in Apple devices. My favorite has to be with Hannah Lux Davis cause she’s self-made; from being an assistant makeup artist on set to working with the likes of Drake, Kendric Lamar, Nick Jonas and other big shots, she is the epitome of success.
OMGVoice: What would you say are the pros and cons of being a celebrity interviewer?
Harun: you get to learn a lot of life lessons from the amazing public figures you get to interview. You learn to be patient – these guys take their time to get back to you haha! You also get to attend premier events, have access to high fashion occasions. You’ll find yourself chatting with someone you see on TV in the middle of the night haha! You become a dreamer. The bad side is that there’s a lot of pitfalls legal-wise. You can get sued for defamation or even get attacked. You always have to know what’s not newsworthy, differentiate between what’s of public interest and what’s not. The working hours can be crazy – you almost constantly have to be online! You need to be informed of what’s happening around the world. Apart from that, it’s one of the most fun jobs you’ll ever have!
OMGVoice: Ultimate goal in life?
Harun: Currently, I am focusing on developing my career. In the future, I wouldn’t mind a stint in TV or radio. I’ve wanted that for a VERY long time!
OMGVoice: Who is the person you dream of interviewing one day and why?
Harun: I’ve always wanted to meet and interview Justin Bieber. It’s because I discovered him back in 2009, when he was rapidly gaining traction. I have followed his work keenly. I identify with him because he used the power of the web to succeed in life. I have also used the web to learn blogging, meet new people, interview guys and make a living out of it. I want to know how it feels to come from nothing to be worth over $200 million dollars, his retirement plans and more stuff that people probably aren’t interested to know as of now.
OMGVoice: What’s your candid opinion on journalism in Kenya?
Harun: I’d say that it’s lacking content and diversity. To be honest, we do not have loads of locally produced magazines to read and high-quality web content to consume. Blogs copy each other and most news is taken off social media pages. There are not enough groundbreaking interviews to talk about every day. We need to work hard towards giving readers enough reason to support our local music, TV shows and other talents. They simply do not get to know the other story…the inside story. It’s all about gossip. If we do this, we’ll have many journalism awards, more global media houses setting up offices in Kenya and Hollywood celebrities visiting instead of going to South Africa.
OMGVoice: Biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your blogging journey?
Harun: The biggest lesson I have gotten is that success doesn’t come overnight. As you work hard, you’ll get endless rejections, negative energy and fail multiple times. What matters is how you take it. You need to have thick skin and focus on your ultimate goal. Learn to be your own source of inspiration and you’ll get there.
OMGVoice: Advice to young people out there that would want to take on the same career path as yourself?
Harun: What I’d say is that, invest in your mind. Take all the necessary steps needed to equip yourself with the tools needed in this industry. Currently, you need to be social media savvy and know basic web language. Take photography, video and audio editing lessons. Network, network, network. That’s the most powerful thing you can do – know the who’s who in the industry. From an editor to a celebrity PA to a stylist, know them at your finger tips
and have their contacts. You can always get them by attending events.