This is Local Suddha (aka Rafael Wijesekera)
By Mahika Panditha
Happy Sunday y’all! This man needs no introduction but I do want to give you a little bit of information about him before we dive right into the conversation. You may know him as Local Suddha on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. His name is Rafael Wijesekera, and he is a computer software engineer with a passion for game development.
He is not actually Sri Lankan, no matter how much he may seem like it, but we’ll get into that later, haha! So, I suggest you guys check out the conversation we were lucky to have with the Local Suddha himself!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Rafael Wijesekera. I was born in Russia but I grew up in Sri Lanka. You may have come across some videos where you saw my parents and wondered how they are Sri Lankan – that’s because they are my step parents. Yes, I have two Sri Lankan step parents and that’s kind of the reason why I’m here.
I work two jobs at the moment, one related to computer software engineering and the other, which I really enjoy, is game development at Motion Miracles. Many people wonder how I know Sinhala; I learnt it during my time at boarding school here in Sri Lanka. I went to S. Thomas’ College for about three years. During my time there, I had to learn the language as even though I was studying in English medium, half of the subjects were in Sinhala. Even though I can speak/understand Sinhala, I still struggle to read and write, which means I was failing all my Sinhala subjects during my time there.
How did you get into comedy?
I always enjoyed comedy and I loved doing small skits and such whenever I was free. In school I remember some friends and I used to make some really cool, funny short videos using Dubsmash (an app like TikTok which was famous during that time). Sadly, we didn’t properly save the videos so we have no idea where they are. From there on, I realised I’ve always liked to make people laugh, even if the jokes are bad. Seeing people laugh and enjoy whatever dumb joke I might make brings me joy.
What motivated you to start posting on various platforms and how has that experience been?
So during quarantine, my friend was pushing me to download TikTok and post some content on it. I was quite hesitant but ended up doing it because it’s also a good way to grow my YouTube channel. So I decided to do something different for once and use my Sinhala knowledge to post a funny video. After posting it on TikTok and Instagram, it basically blew up, and at that point I knew this was something I should definitely continue doing. And so whenever I’m free, I work on funny videos as a hobby.
Which platform would you say has the best engagement and why?
TikTok, I think, has the best engagement, but it’s very unpredictable. One moment a video of yours can do very well and at other times it won’t do as well as you hoped it would. As for Instagram and YouTube, these tend to be more consistent. But overall, the best potential is in YouTube in my opinion. Even though my YouTube channel doesn’t have as much followers as my TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook pages, I’m looking forward to trying to grow on that platform more than the others.
What advice do you have for budding comedians and content creators?
Just be yourself and go for it. The biggest mistake you can make is never starting. Plus, put yourself out there more, don’t let your shyness hold you back, and don’t worry about what other people would think. Especially for comedians, to be funny, you need to be a bit silly, so don’t be shy to be silly and look stupid.
What’s the biggest lesson you learnt in your career so far?
Honestly, I would say staying humble. I never would’ve been able to get to where I am without the help of all the amazing people who decided to check out my videos and follow me for more. Some people tend to lose track of how they got to where they are and don’t really acknowledge the fact that those people they may look down on are the reason they are even up there in the first place.
Where do you hope you and your platform will be in the next five years?
I am looking forward to trying to grow mainly on YouTube so I hope I’ll have a good following in five years. At the moment, the content I work on is catered to a Sri Lankan audience, but I am also open to making more content for international audiences. And that is also my plan once I start living with some friends; we plan on starting up our own YouTube channel and putting up the crazy stuff we do.