Borrowing someone’s life, and enjoying it
Natasha Muziramakenga is a lady of many trades: having dreamt as a young girl of being an architect or a psychiatrist, she went on to become a movie actress, a radio presenter and a free-lance journalist. Yet it seems she recently discovered her true love: theater.
Focus: When and where were you born?
Natasha: (sighs) Do I have to? I don’t mind the where, but I sure mind the when. But anyway, I was born on 28th February 1984 in Lubumbashi in the DRC. I lived there until 1996, when my family came to Rwanda.
Focus: Have you always loved acting, or is it something you just took on?
Natasha: To be honest, I have loved acting and I wanted to be an actress, but then again I have wanted to be so many things (grins) – I wanted to be an architect, a journalist and a psychiatrist.
However, it was not until 2005 that I started acting professionally, when I starred in Un Dimanche à Kigali. As a child I acted in silly plays for pleasure, though I honestly loved every minute of it.
Focus: Why did you decide to start acting professionally?
Natasha: Funnily, it started as a joke. I was just passing by the place where they were doing the casting, and I thought, ‘this is fun, why not just join in’. So I did, and to my surprise the director picked me. I don’t know why, but maybe he fell in love with my smile. (laughs out loud) Only kidding.
Focus: And what part exactly did you play?
Natasha: I acted as Aimerita, a taxi driver and friend to the main actor. I should also add that this movie was based on a true story – most of the characters actually existed. It is about a Canadian journalist doing a documentary on Aids in Rwanda at the time of the genocide, who falls in love with a Rwandan girl, a waitress. He is distressed because he tries to tell the world what’s happening but no one listens, so he decides to concentrate on saving the woman he loves.
Focus: What was the experience like?
Natasha: I really enjoyed it! Acting professionally was a completely new thing for me, and I fell in love with it. I felt like I was borrowing someone’s life for just a day, and just enjoying it for that time.
Focus: Do you think the film industry in Rwanda is going anywhere?
Natasha: Well, I’ll try to be optimistic and say that with time our movie industry will stand out. However, this will depend on the parties involved, that is the actors, actresses, and directors. I think it depends most on the directors, because the actors are readily available and they are very good, but most of the people directing Rwandan movies are foreigners.
I believe everything needs a lot of time and dedication to make it perfect. Acting is like giving birth, you put so much time into preparation and then you just let it unfold.
Focus: Aside from acting, is there any thing else you do?
Natasha: I like to refer to myself as a free spirit because I do different things. I’m a radio presenter on Contact FM, I do theater and I’m a free lance writer for Ikaze (the magazine of Rwandair Express, ed.).
Focus: So do you intend to continue acting on a professional level?
Natasha: Yes and no. I want to continue acting, but then I also want to do many other things. Acting in Rwanda is a one-time thing; you cannot expect to keep acting because they are not that many movies being made, the film industry is not yet big. In fact, I recently discovered theater and it’s much more enticing than the film industry.
Recently, I played a knight in a piece called Littoral in Butare, and it was so much more than anything I have ever done. I felt like for once, I was actually being myself out there. This might sound weird, but right when I left the stage I screamed out loud because I felt so good! I think theater is the thing for me, but then again I have so many things to do out there, I cannot stick to one…