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‘I’ve always been passionate about uniting africans through film’

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Mumbi

Kenya actress and dancer, Mumbi Maina plays the role of Thabisa in Mildred Okwo’s upcoming movie, LaFemme Anjola. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she speaks about how enthralling it was to be on the set and what can be better about filmmaking in Nigeria.

What drew you to this particular project, La Femme Anjola?
The script definitely. It was a page-turner. Once I started reading I couldn’t put it down. That’s always a good sign. It had an edge that I’d not recently witnessed in an African project before. 

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How did you land the role of Thabisa?
The director, Mildred Okwo approached me for the role. It was a pleasant surprise. 

What was your immediate reaction to the screenplay?
Shock and excitement. There were so many unexpected twists and turns to the storyline and the characters. I was immediately intrigued. 

How do you prepare to interpret your character?
I let my first instincts and intuition guide me. Usually, my first feeling is the most authentic one, I believe that’s the character speaking through me, she has a story to tell, so I set her free. 

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What was it like reuniting with Rita Dominic since Shattered?
A complete and utter joy. She is a beautiful soul and professional. 

What was the process of collaboration on the project for you? 
It was fairly straightforward. I’ve always been passionate about uniting Africans through film. 

How did Mildred Okwo approach it and how did you respond?
It was obvious from the start that this is a passion project for her. And aside from that, she wanted to set herself and this production apart from the norm and raise the bar. I was honored to be part of it. 

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In terms of style, the film seems to be attempting something different, was it a challenge for you?
My character called for a wide range of emotions and to me that is an actors’ dream, to experience that kind of challenge where one has to dig deeper than normal to do the character justice. 

How do you think audiences will respond to the film? 
I think it’s going to create a huge stir. No table will be left unturned. 

How best do you think African filmmakers can move from the COVID-19 slump?
I think we can only make adjustments moving forward to navigate towards continuing to make films with safety precautions in place. Also, online platforms are more essential than ever. 

How many Nigerian sets have you worked on, compared to Kenya? 
I’ve worked on three Nigerian sets including LaFemme Anjola and there is a vast difference between the two countries’ film sets. While both have their pros and cons I find that Kenyan film sets have more structure. Whereas Nigerian film sets have had to create a unique niche for themselves due to certain conditions that have to be accommodated while filming. An example of this is working with generators and the challenges that come with that while filming. There’s a certain flexibility that is needed in order to accomplish creating a film in Nigeria.

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