One-on-one with movie star Denis Nsanzamahoro

When Silver Film production Ltd released the movie, “Rwasa”, its main actor Denis Nsanzamahoro, aka Rwasa, earned popularity without revealing much about his personality.
Actor  Nsanzamahoro in one of the local movie scenes. (Net)
Actor Nsanzamahoro in one of the local movie scenes. (Net)

When Silver Film production Ltd released the movie, “Rwasa”, its main actor Denis Nsanzamahoro, aka Rwasa, earned popularity without revealing much about his personality.

Today, Rwasa is a household name in the Rwandan film industry and, has bagged many movie awards, including the Rwanda Movie Awards 2013, as the Best Male Actor.

He spoke to The New Times about his thoughts on the local film industry, as well as his personal life.


How would you describe your journey in the Rwandan film industry and what are some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way?

The journey has been rough, I must say, though it has been one of those experiences that certify our goals and ambitions in this industry. Along the way challenges can be found in every corner and having to fight for the opportunity to be seen or heard so that you can prove your worth… and not always getting that chance in the end is just one of the issues.

What motivated you to become an actor?

Honestly, I cannot say that there is a particular thing that motivated me to start acting because I was born an actor. Acting runs deep in my blood, soul, brains… I love it so much.

Have you ever had difficulty turning yourself into a character; if yes, what was the character and why was it challenging?

Yes. I had difficulty acting as the head of Interahamwe militia in the movie titled, “100 Days.” I was portraying the role of Interahamwe in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. The film was released only five years after the Genocide, when the wounds and scars of its aftermath were still fresh.
Basically this was very challenging! People were still very traumatised and very many could hardly watch it— though it was just a movie.

Are there new projects that you are working on and wish to talk about?

Denis Nsanzamahoro, aka Rwasa

I am working on TV series called, “Sakabaka”. My team and I have already released two seasons with 20 episodes each, and we are starting to shoot season three in three weeks from now. The series is aired on Rwanda TV, but we are also working with TV1 and TV10 so that they can broadcast it.

Most of your fans refer to you as Rwasa. How do you receive that?

I don’t mind about that at all. Rwasa was a good movie. When my fans call me Rwasa, it makes me proud and feels that I did a great job.

Any personal ambitions yet unattained; directing, producing or writing?

You may not believe it, but I actually write scripts, direct and produce movies. And at the end of the day, I am an actor. I have already attained much of my personal ambitions, but I am trying to discover other strengths.

What are some of the challenges the local film industry faces?

The challenges we face in our profession include inadequate market and low quality of production. Filmmakers need training to raise the quality of production. When the quality increases, the market expands too. We can even sell at the international level. I think these problems are being addressed already. We just need to keep up the good work now and in the days to come.

Do you envision yourself as an actor known at the international level?

Only the sky is the limit. I think I am halfway there. I have featured in 12 international movies and I am in international actors’ database already. So why not? I will definitely make it.

Where did you learn acting?

Like I said earlier, I was born an actor. But I studied it at Kenyatta University as well. I think studying acting in University developed what was in me already.

Who is your favourite actor?

It has to be Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence (an American actor, comedian and filmmaker).

What career would you pursue if you were no longer an actor?

If I stopped acting, I would become a DJ and would probably open a nightclub and serve as its DJ.