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…the story of Mark Kazim
By Gabriella Chapman
For Mark Kazim, being a product of Guyana’s Theatre Arts is a humbling experience as he is blessed with the unique opportunity to understand, feel and appreciate people’s lives despite class, colour, race or creed.
Kazim, popularly known for his Chinese character ‘LoLi’, said being a member of the local theatre industry encourages humility but noted that his upbringing laid the foundation for his success.
The father of two told Village Voice News that he was born ‘Mark Anthony Narine’ but chose to change his name while he was in secondary school. Kazim was raised in both Broad Street, Charlestown and Versailles, West Bank Demarara (WBD), which gave him taste of both the city and country life in Guyana.
“My upbringing was quite adventurous, I would say. Well balanced, and I mixed and mingled with everyone. Outgoing and curious was the order of the day. My mom always encouraged me to do the things I wanted to do and try new things. I can’t remember ever being bored. I always was involved in some sort of exciting activity,” he said.
It was his childhood experiences that saw him venturing into theatre. “I had free time and was bored, so I decided to try something new. I signed up for an acting course that I saw in the newspapers by the Ministry of Culture that was preparing for Carifesta X in 2009. After training, I was casted in ‘Makantali’ as a Canadian surveyor. I was then included in a Drama group formed by my first Drama Teacher, Mr. Henry Rodney and we went on to do a few plays at various locations in Guyana,” Kazim recalled.
He believes that it was his role in ‘Nothing to Laugh About 2’ that catapulted his acting career. Kazim explained that people are drawn to comedy and it is through comedy that he gained popularity. “Being an actor has given me the chance to appreciate people more. It allows me to walk in the shoes and share experiences of different people. As an actor, I get to be a beggar, a king, a serial killer, a toddler, a woman etc. Being a different character helps you live the life of that person, even if it is for a few hours. It’s a humbling experience,” he shared with Village Voice News.
With his experience in theatre coupled with an outgoing personality, Kazim developed a passion for mentoring – helping people achieve their goals. This, he said, is achieved by empowering minds and promoting positivity. “I first realised this was a deep passion when I worked as a Drama Mentor for the National Drama Festival a few years ago. Seeing persons being passionate about something I love ignited my own passion to be a drama Mentor. I believe in being positive, and following your passion(s). I encourage all to go after what you want to achieve relentlessly. The key is wanting it bad enough and going after your goals to make it your reality,” he said.
Kazim said that he aspires to be a mentor of high repute and an outstanding director who will continue to entertain Guyanese the world over. “And I believe one of my greatest achievements thus far, was winning an award for Best Mentor in the acting arena, coming in a close second to being a father,” the local actor said.
He believes that his mentorship programmes have taught him patience and given him the strength to face the challenges which he faced. Aside from his career as a comedian, Kazim is also a Marketing and Advertising Specialist and Sales Manager. He said had it not been for his acting career, he would not have been a successful business owner.
“Because I like freedom to do what I want and when I want. I also find happiness in helping people. So I think this career choice will give me the best of both worlds,” he said.
Kazim told Village Voice News that while the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic has crippled many industries including theatre, he along with other actors have been utilising social media to keep the industry alive. In July 2020, he launched his person YouTube channel, ‘Mark Kazim Comedy’ which he uses to share content aimed at entertaining people during the challenges faced by the pandemic.