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Amar Desai, Principal of Nairobi, wins top award

21 February

Congratulations go to Amar Desai, the Principal of Helen O'Grady Nairobi,  for winning this Award from the Business Daily Newspaper for being one of the top 40 business men and women in Kenya. This Award was particulary given to people who are making a positive impact in influencing the youth as well as the industry in Kenya. 

Amar says, “I have an insatiable appetite for the arts.” This is how Amar describes his relationship with art. “The magic in the creative madness keeps me sane.”

Amar had always been interested in the arts ever since he was young.

“When I was 12 years old, I was playing keyboards for a local Indian band.” As he grew up, a career in this field seemed improbable. This was his greatest challenge. “People were concerned, and still are, about the financial stability in the arts.”

How would he put bread on the table by running around on stage? They asked. Out of peer pressure, he enrolled for a course in banking and finance. However, a candid chat with his father gave him the courage to forge ahead, says Amar, who holds a degree in film and television production from the Curtin University of Technology in Australia.

The ink on his graduation certificate had hardly dried when Amar flew back home to Kenya to build his artsy dream. He started as an intern, dusting seats and mopping the stage. His first real job paid him Sh18,000 a month. Knowing that there was a huge vacuum in the industry, he worked hard to gain experience and learn on the job.

“That meagre paying job is what has made me what I am today,” he recalls.

Currently, he is a director at Aperture Africa Productions, a theatre and performing arts company, best known for its Broadway-style larger-than-life musicals and rib-cracking comedy productions. His work, with audiences of over 6,000 people per production, has won many awards and has been granted the prestigious Helen O’Grady Drama Academy franchise.

He has produced several shows including the “Jungle Book”, “Robin Hood” and “Cinderella” musicals. Amar’s greatest achievement, however, is the impact his work has on other people’s lives.

“Employing people, watching actors and performers I’ve trained/mentored winning awards is most satisfying.”

But nothing rivals having a supportive family, and being a dad. His advice to the next generation?

“Keep dreaming. Go out there, unleash your passion and never forget to be humble”. He encourages parents to support their children’s art-based dreams as Kenya is ready to host an arts industry.

“My life’s mission is to tell our own stories to the world.” This mission, and his wife Jinita, are his driving forces.

Duncan Rice, Director of Helen O'Grady Drama Academy Africa, says, 'We are delighted to see the excellent work Amar and his wife, Jinita, are doing to create a new understanding of educational drama in Kenya. They are making huge strides in developing children and adults in 21st Century skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity which will help many young people in to have life-long success in industtry and the world at large. They are passionate to empower as many children as possible with the international curriculum of Helen O'Grady Drama Academy, and we will no doubt see great things from them and the young people in their care in the future. This is such a well-deserved award and it couldn't have gone to anyone more professional!' 

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"" Je vous remercie pour le travail fantastique que vous avez fait avec nos enfants, ils étaient superbes ! Cela prouve que, que les enfants ayant une opportunité peuvent se développer à un autre niveau. ""

- Directeur d’école au Cap, Afrique du Sud