He is no stranger to success. He’s been named Kenya’s youngest millionaire. In 2016, he was among Forbes’ 30 Most Young Entrepreneurs in Africa, and in 2017, he made the cover of Forbes Africa as one of the 30 Under 30 Most Promising Young African Entrepreneurs. But perhaps least talked about is how he has managed to bring to the screen, different Kenyan cultures in a celebration of love and marriage with Our Perfect Wedding (OPW), a wedding reality show produced by Mbugua’s production company Young Rich Television, that airs on Maisha Magic and Showmax.
A 2019 Kalasha Awards winner for Best TV Reality Show, Our Perfect Wedding lets us into the personal lives of different couples in Kenya as they go through the preparations leading to the big day, including all the drama, setbacks and melodrama that come with planning a wedding.
In a recent interview with Showmax, Eugene Mbugua (pictured top) spoke about his experience producing OPW for the last four years, his love for realities and documentaries, the Kenyan celebrity couple he’d like to feature on OPW as well as the next big thing he’s bringing to the screen.
QUESTION: Our Perfect Wedding has been running since 2016. What are some of the unique experiences you’ve had producing this show?
EUGENE MBUGUA: Our Perfect Wedding has been quite a whirlwind and we’ve done dozens of episodes covering multiple communities. Perhaps the most dramatic experience was a couple who threatened to hold demonstrations outside our office because they didn’t like the ending of their own wedding on the show.
Also, the most interesting thing for me has been the fans’ relationship with the show’s hosts. OPW has a very loyal and vocal fan base, and I’m particularly happy that they’ve embraced the current host Angela Mlay.
Q: Has this show changed your perception of how you look at love and marriage?
EM: I have come to appreciate the role of culture in marriage as well as respect for the vendors and suppliers who go out of their way to make couples’ days memorable. My thoughts on love have however not been changed.
Q: How does it feel to give many couples in Kenya this opportunity to showcase their love story on the screen?
EM: It’s a great feeling, especially because OPW doesn’t just cover their wedding but leaves them with a documentary of the process before the big day that they can keep for posterity.
Q: Which popular Kenyan couple would you like to capture their perfect wedding story if given a chance?
EM: Early in 2020, radio presenter Chiki and Bien of Sauti Sol got married in a very private function. They’re a very radiant couple and I wish OPW had the chance to cover their wedding.
Q: If the roles were reversed, would you allow intimate details of your life or wedding preparations to be aired on screen?
EM: No, I don’t think so. I’m a rather private person.
Q: Looking at where you started until now, what are you proudest of about OPW?
EM: I’m proud of the team that puts it together. They go out of their way putting in gruelling hours and dedication. I’m also proud of the fact that we’ve won Best Wedding Show for every wedding award ceremony that’s been put together in Kenya in the last few years. We also won Best Reality Show at the 2019 Kalasha Awards and this was a great moment.
Q: There are definitely challenges to any production, but what’s the biggest challenge in producing OPW for the four years it’s been on air?
EM: Deadlines are always a big challenge and the fact that OPW has been on air every week for almost four years means we’re always chasing the clock. The show is heavy on footage and so our editors, led by the very able Dan Kasiki, are always on toes about this.
Q: Has being listed as Kenya’s youngest millionaire made it easier to knock on doors when it comes to pitching new shows?
EM: I don’t know how factually correct that listing was, but the fact that OPW has been watched by very many people means I’m recognised on the streets now. The thing that I like the most about this publicity is that it drives back viewership to shows like OPW.
Q: Which one of your TV shows are you proudest of?
EM: OPW has to be on the top because of the number of episodes we’ve done and it’s staying power. This is closely followed by Foods of Kenya because of the pride it has given millions of Kenyans to see their food culture acknowledged and celebrated. But if you were to ask me which my favourite is, I’d say Stori Yangu, because I love documentaries.
Q: Why did you choose to venture specifically into documentaries and reality TV?
EM: I’ve always been a big fan of documentaries because of how much learning you get from them as well as how they allow us to re-examine the past. Reality TV, especially the style that we do, is intriguing for me because of how relatable it is and how much they move people’s emotions.
Q: Are you working on any new productions at the moment?
EM: Yes, we’ve got a few productions in the works, including a musical project as well as the biggest reality show that East Africa has seen, premiering in June.
Q: What’s the one story in Kenya that you’d like to tell that hasn’t been told yet?
EM: With enough resources, I would love to delve into the inhumanity, injustices and the lasting effects that colonialism had on Kenyans and make an in-depth documentary series on the same.
Q: Looking at the film/TV industry in Kenya, are we doing enough when it comes to the number of documentaries and reality TV shows that filmmakers are producing?
EM: This is a difficult question to answer because content decisions, especially with the big broadcasters, are made based on data that they have on audience preferences. And as of now, a lot Kenyans still love dramas and scripted shows very much. But with this said, globally television content is swinging the reality way and hopefully, Kenyan media and producers, as well as audiences, will begin to embrace them more as the industry grows.
(Catch Our Perfect Wedding S1-8 on Showmax).