Ainea Ojiambo is one of Kenya’s most prolific, conspicuous and busiest bad guy on your television screens.
Ainea has featured in Makutano Junction, Nairobi Half Life and Demigods, to mention a few of his recent prominent roles that have made him an unforgettable character on your tv.
He also played the role of dirty cop Juma doing the bidding for Nana Tandala (Sanaipei Tande) in Maisha Magic’s telenovela Kina, and played the crooked prison warden Musa in the Showmax thriller series Igiza.
In the new Showmax political thriller series, County 49, Ainea plays Okusimba Sibi aka Ox, the ousted Bwatele County Governor, a stereotypical charismatic corrupt African politician.
But why does Ainea like playing the bad guy? This question he gets a lot given in this year alone two of his biggest productions - Igiza and County 49 – launched three months apart.
He opines: “Most directors think that I’m able to portray such characters so well. And you know what they say, ‘If you can play a bad guy then you must be one of the best because playing a good guy is easy. Everybody can do it.’”
Ainea has mastered the art of playing corrupt men who are either at the top or very close to the top.
“Maybe it’s the authority that I have that makes me play those parts well. I study a lot of men in power, but I think maybe the roles find me because of my physique,” he says.
Like any good TV villain, Ainea admits that he has received his fair share of hate from fans.
“Being a bad guy also comes with the hate, and this has been the case from my days in Makutano Junction to Demigods to Igiza,” he says.
If the first two episodes of County 49 are anything to go by, then his new character Okusimba is bound to make some viewers really mad, if they aren’t clenching their jaws already.
When we are introduced to Okusimba, he is facing charges for abuse of office, treason and graft, an onslaught that was led by the new governor Nerimah Mkung (Wakio Mzenge).
Okusimba is a man more interested in politics, power and money, than family, and who has a score to settle with the government, as Ainea describes his new bad guy character.
The politician’s recent legal troubles, and unexpected conviction, strengthen this resolve, setting off a chain of events that threatens to bring Bwatele County to its knees.
“He feels betrayed, and he feels that the country owes him because he fought for it,” says Ainea.
The thespian finds Okusimba interesting in many ways; For example, the way his monologues take him back to his early days on stage before transitioning to TV.
“I used to do a lot of Shakespeare when I was young. And my character Okusimba does a lot of monologues where I have to change characters in between,” he adds while reminiscing.
Ainea says when he first read the County 49 script, he called director Likarion Wainaina to comprehend what Likarion saw in him that made him the perfect fit for his “most challenging role yet”.
“I want you to do something that you’ve never done before,” Likarion told him.
Ainea and Likarion have worked together before on stage, a few movie projects, and on Kina, where the latter directed some episodes in season one.
“He’s one of the directors who really challenges me a lot, and who really understands me. Every time I do a project with him, there’s a new me that comes out,” Ainea confesses.
With many bad guy roles in his belt. Ainea is considering playing a more romantic role.
“I think next time, I’ll go for an Alejandro type of character, a romantic guy so that I can show people I can also do romance, the kind of role that will make people cry when they see me frustrated in love,” he says jokingly.
Ainea, who is a licensed gun holder, lent his weapon expertise to the cast of County 49 and taught them how to handle firearms since the show is heavy on action and fierce gun fights.