Emerging actress Tendaiishe Chitima says she wants her promising career to inspire the next generation of local thespians as she attempts to decimate barriers in the acting scene.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
Based in South Africa, Chitima, who will be flying back today after attending the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF), recently made a debut stage drama appearance in a Rooftop Productions play titled Bloom Flame Bloom.
The new feat is an addition to her short, but illustrious career, which has seen her make appearances on both the small and big screen, including featuring on red-hot local film Cook Off as well as South African soapies, Isidingo and Inumber Number, among others.
The 28-year-old told The Standard Style that since her first gig on South Africa’s Mutual Friends, the appetite to achieve greater things motivated her to keep pushing.
“At the beginning, I was motivated by pursuing my dreams and seeing how far I could go because I would think if I stop I would not know how far I could have gone,” she said.
The Bachelor of Arts in Film, Media, Writing and Drama holder’s story of how she diverted from journalism major to performing arts is nothing short of epic, but she has herself to thank for pursuing what not only makes her happy, but inspires generations to come.
“What motivates me now is the aim to see growth in the industry, especially after realising how hard it is to be an actress in Zimbabwe. I want to be an example to other ladies and show that it is possible,” she said.
Although she was never exposed to accomplished names like Danai Gurira, Sibongile Mlambo and Chipo Chung, among others whom she now emulates, she is establishing a brand worth equal influence.
“All these ladies are doing very well on the international platform. They give me hope and I want to be part of that circle that gives young people hope,” she said.
“I do not want to be the only star in the sky because the sky looks so much better when there are lots of stars there and just making sure that other women make it too.”
Well intended as her dream might be, it will not be easy as she will have to constantly navigate obstacles, including sexual harassment, a phenomenon that has characterised the industry worldwide resulting in Hollywood’s me too movement, a crusade against sexual harassment and assault.
“Before the me too movement started, there was a lot of that [sexual harassment] going on in the film industry because it is male-dominated and in some way women are mistreated,” she said, adding that had she not stood her ground at one point she would have been a victim.
“I refused but I have experienced it and it does exist, but in South Africa they have different organisations fighting it and I think that needs to spread to more countries in Africa, Zimbabwe included,” Chatima said.
“We need to start making more films because an industry is built on volumes so the more we are making films the more the industry is being built.”
Chitima is studying for a Masters in Business Administration and has been awarded a scholarship for a four-month-long exchange programme in Poland.