On and off-screen. Elizabeth Bwamimpeke acts as Ganyana on the Ugandan version of the Spanish telenovela Second Chance. She opens up about her life on and off-screen and offers some career advice for upcoming actresses
One of the characters in NTV’s Ugandan version of Second Chance is Ganyana. Second Chance is a replica of the Telemundo series, El Cuerpo del Deseo, a Spanish telenovela that aired on the same television station in 2009.
She is a medium, a witch in more severe terms, who uncovers the mysteries surrounding Peter Byekwaso, the wealthy man on whose life the soap opera revolves.
This character is played by Elizabeth Bwamimpeke. Off screen, the actress is not anything like Ganyana. She is a calm collected woman, something I notice during our meeting on a Saturday afternoon at Bat Valley Theatre in Kampala. “I am a reserved and indoor kind of person,” she says.
Bwamimpeke opens up the conversation by going down memory lane on how she started and fell in love with acting. “In school, I loved dancing and singing,” she says. “With time, I became passionate about them.”
The young Bwamimpeke was, however, advised by her mother to complete her education first before engaging in any serious acting. “She wanted me to stay focused rather than get distracted,” she says.
Bwamimpeke only re-ignited her acting passion later in 2006 after taking part in a Ugandan and Nigerian collaborated movie, Roses in the Rain. At the time, she had just enrolled for a diploma in business administration at Makerere Business Institute which she completed in 2008. “I am yet to put this qualification to use,” says the actress.
Right after, she got to feature in a series Because of you, a story by John Ssegawa, a theatre director at Bat Valley Theatre, which aired on local television from 2011 to 2012. Bwamimpeke is also a theatre actress. Her most recent gig was in a Christmas play Ekijja Kijje-Kama Mbaya ‘N’Mbaya last year at Bat Valley Theatre. Currently, her main focus is her Ganyana role in Second Chance.
Challenges in the industry
There is still an issue of exploitation, the actress says. “On many occasions, after working for a producer, they do not fulfill their end of the bargain especially when it involves payment.”
Rather than offer empty promises, she wishes producers would be more be open about finances when approaching actors and actresses about work. “I usually want people to tell me the truth rather than lie and do not deliver as expected,” she says.
That aside, the other big challenge is the limited number of costumes provided in film projects and theatre plays. “We are expected to pick attires from our personal wardrobes. These people forget that if you wear something, you cannot wear it again.”
Bwamimpeke says in a year, she has about five project teams requesting her to improvise from her wardrobe. “Can you imagine having to look for three to five outfits? These people should be catering for our wardrobe if they want great projects at the end,” she says.
Misconceptions about acting
Bwamimpeke says actors and actresses are not taken as serious people. “They think we cannot be trusted. Their perception of us is that we live irresponsible and reckless lives, forgetting that we leave the acting on stage and television and do not incorporate it into our daily lives,” she notes.
Then, there are those who enjoy criticising their work not knowing there is hard work and commitment required behind the scenes. “Stars do not become perfect in one night. It is a process and there are a lot of baby steps involved,” she says, adding, “The person you are calling a bad actress put in a lot of work for you to see on television so start appreciating them.”
To all women trying to break into this industry, Bwamimpeke advises never to give up. “Along the way, you will meet many bumps. There will be many twists and turns but if you keep your eyes focused on the prize, you will get there,” she says.
One of the times hopeful actresses will face rejection is during auditions.
“There will be someone among the panel of judges who will say no to you. This should not mean giving up on your dream. Never loose hope; success requires tremendous conviction and perseverance,” tips the actress.
Bwamimpeke off stage
What is it about that most people do not know about you?
I am a very sensitive person and because of this, I often hope people are very careful on what they either say or do to me. Also, I forgive others easily because I want life to move on. Then, I easily cry as well and tend to trust people wholeheartly, an aspect that makes people often take me for granted.
Do you consider yourself a celebrity?
I do not consider myself a celebrity although some people consider me one. I love to keep a low profile.
Life lessons drawn from your career
• One has to create their own opportunities to showcase their talent. Sometimes one does not need to wait for anybody to present an opportunity to them. Get out of your comfort zone and look for it.
• One does have to listen to the critics. There are moments people will criticise you more than give compliments. If you listen to the critics more, you will not achieve your heart’s desires.
Your turning point in life so far…
The time I gave birth to my son now aged seven. He has made me a better person. Before I became a mother, I made many mistakes in my life, ones that I would wish to correct if there was another opportunity.
On dating …
I am in a relationship.
The best piece of advice you have ever received …
Make many friends but trust a few; the same friends we make are the same ones who can destroy us.
Five years from now …
I hope to be producing movies and tutoring those interested in joining the industry. Also, I hope to have started an acting school for children. Many times, children are needed to be part of big movie productions but the problem is the difficulty involved in finding them.