We had the good fortune of connecting with Raymond Watanga and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Raymond, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe that risk taking is vital to the elevation of self. Without risk, one knowingly or unknowingly chooses to live a mediocre and “safe” life. I say this because I used to be that person. I made sure to always make the safe move, the right move in everyone’s eyes. My biggest risk was becoming an actor. Coming from where I come from, there’s not too many of us creatives. I knew it was something that would probably be frowned upon, but I also knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life not knowing. Not only did I risk possible shame but also the label of being the “odd ball” of the family. If not for me taking the risk to not only become an actor, but also move to Los Angeles by myself. I don’t become a better overall human. That’s what my biggest risk has done for me so far. So now every time I meet anyone who seems to be playing it safe, I make sure to encourage them and let the know. TAKE MORE RISKS! You’re life just might depend on it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I pride myself on taking care of my brand, which is me and presenting myself in a manner that I can be happy about. Most people would agree that what sets me apart from others is my discipline and work ethic, which I believe comes from my family. I think sometimes we have goals put in place, we accomplish some of them and forget to pat our own selves on the back for those little achievements. At the end of the day if no one else does it, we have to do it for ourselves. So I’m proud of where I am so far and the little strides that I’ve made, but I know I’ve still got so far to go. Nothing is easy in life, at least not for me anyway. Everything I have I’ve always worked for. I’m here now because I worked hard, I decided to go my own way, sacrificed some relationships among other things in order to make my life extraordinary. But I’m more excited for the aftermath of the pandemic. I’m sure a lot of people can relate because the pandemic definitely halted my momentum. The silver lining of all that hoopla is that many of us got the opportunity to get in touch with ourselves which in turn created a lot of necessary decision making that will probably lead to bigger and better things. I believe the biggest challenge for all of us is picking ourselves back up and trying to begin, again. There’s so many lessons that I’ve learned on this journey so far, some of them include taking risks, making sure you have two to three people that you love to keep you sane, and always being aware of everything, but paying attention to one thing. I want the world to know that I’m coming. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, just know that Raymond Watanga just a kid from Nairobi is coming. And if nothing else, I hope my come up will give some of the kids who come from the same place some hope too.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m all about anything active so anyone that hits my line knows I’ll probably recommend some hiking spots. The most obvious ones being Runyon and The Hollywood sign. The rest I just can’t mention because it’s a secret haha. But besides that, when it comes to fun I’ll always recommend my favorite Afro spots like AfroGogo, Afrolituation or if they’re not looking to go out and dance but instead catch a vibe. I’d recommend checking out Liemert Park where they’ve got pretty much everything black and the vibe is chill. The beach has to be on the list as well, first I’d say, Venice beach because there’s just so much you can do and if they want to catch a bite with some views they can check out High rooftop lounge not too far from there. Cabo cantina is another great place to eat, drink, and hang out. Either in LA or Venice they’re both top notch. Who come to LA without checking out the walk of fame? Getting to see the stars and former stars is a must, otherwise your trip didn’t count. If nothing else just walking down Hollywood blvd will do it.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ll always shoutout Matthew Singletary for basically “discovering” me. In life, we meet certain people along the way for specific reasons and he’s one of my biggest ones. If not for him pushing me to change my major, I don’t end up taking that risk and becoming an actor. Still my favorite professor to this date! And I believe everything happens for a reason. It was only a semester and only one class, but it ended up altering the trajectory of my life for the better. Shoutout to Mr. Singletary
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