Who are the stars of Rwanda’s Hillywood?

The film industry in Rwanda has had its fair share of challenges but it has steadily grown into a viable venture. With the growth of the film industry, the number of actors has gone up. From internationally acclaimed movies like Sometimes in April to local productions like Rwamasibo, Rwandan actors are without a doubt determined to make their mark in an industry not so many people believe in. Timothy Bamwita and Dean Karemera take a look at some of the promising talent in Hillywood.
Alliance Isimbi
Alliance Isimbi

The film industry in Rwanda has had its fair share of challenges but it has steadily grown into a viable venture. With the growth of the film industry, the number of actors has gone up.

From internationally acclaimed movies like Sometimes in April to local productions like Rwamasibo, Rwandan actors are without a doubt determined to make their mark in an industry not so many people believe in.

Timothy Bamwita and Dean Karemera take a look at some of the promising talent in Hillywood.

Audace Papy Mucyo

From his love for drama as a child, his passion for film was born. He actively joined the film industry in 2009 and has featured in Rwasa, Amatinku y’urukundo, Kaliza, among others. He finds the biggest challenge to be lack of local support. “Rwandans don’t appreciate local movies and productions and without their support, the industry can’t grow.” 

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Willy Ndahiro

He is the star behind movies like Cyu’Buzima, Iki’gerajezo and the famous Kanyarwanda movie in which he featured alongside Cassandra Freeman; a Hollywood star, among others. Born in Burundi, the urge to positively contribute to rewriting the history of Rwanda would only be through film and that was his inspiration to join the industry. For ten years now, he prides himself in the fact that he has grown within the industry despite the challenges. He is currently the chairman of Hillywood Actors’ Coalition.

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Betty Nirere

Though she has been in the industry for two years; she has already featured in two movies, Kanyarwanda and Ryagombe which are responsible for her rise to fame. She was inspired by a friend to join and it has since become her greatest passion. “The film industry isn’t as self sustaining but I have to give it my best and strive to get better,” she says. 

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Vianney Kayumba

Ever since he hit the scene in 2009, Kayumba has never turned back. He has featured in several movies the most popular ones being Amarira yu’Urukundo, Ubugambane and Ruganzu. Asked what he thinks about the industry, the 2013 Rwanda Movie Awards actor of the year recipient said, “It hasn’t been all rosy but I’m optimistic that the industry will grow bigger and become better than it is today.” He was first discovered as an actor in P.5 in a school play organised by ZOA, an AIDS support and awareness organisation. 

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Christelle Kayonga 

As a child, she dreamt of being an actress but it wasn’t until her debut movie Rucumbeka in December 2012 that her dream turned into reality. She has since featured in Ishyano and Serwakira. Although she enjoys the fame that comes with her work, she finds it uncomfortable when people judge her according to the characters she portrays. 

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Jean Pierre Runyurana

He started out as a traditional musician and served as president of Ingoma Music Association but when the acting bug hit him, he didn’t look back. Jean Pierre found himself in the movie industry more than two years ago when he was asked to audition for a movie. It is then that he realised he possessed a talent in acting. So far he has starred in award winning movies such as Sakabaka, Serwakira, and Rwamasibo among others.

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Liane Muhoza

The 2014 best actress award recipient at the Rwanda Movie Awards (RMAs), Liane Muhoza, first graced television screens in 2000 when she appeared in a theatre play Mpemuke ndamuke while she was still in primary. However, she didn’t appear in any plays again until 2012 after completing secondary. 

Since then she has appeared in movies such as Urudasanzwe and Rwasa, parts 1, 2 and 3, eventually winning her first movie award.  The talented actress is currently planning to feature in regional films and pursue acting studies. 

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Dennis Nsanzamahoro

He is one of the most experienced actors in the country. He started his career in 1998 acting in Genocide movies. So far, he has appeared in more than 17 movies including four local and 13 international movies. Although he missed out on this year’s awards, Dennis was given the best male actor award at the 2013 Rwanda Movie Awards.  Some of his international movies include A Hundred Days, Sometimes in April, Shooting Dogs, Shake Hands with the Devil and Operation Turquoise among others.  Among the local movies, he has appeared in Ay’urukundo, Imigambi Ikomeye, Inzozi and the award winning Rwasa in which he was the lead actor. 

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Alliance Isimbi

Although she was disqualified last year over bribery allegations during the voting process for the RMAs, Alliance bounced back this year and won the best lyrics award 2014. The young actress first appeared in a movie in 2012 when she acted in Rwasa Part 1. Since then, her prominence has seen her appear in parts 2 and 3 of the same movie. She also appeared in Serwakira and Inkuba alongside strong actors like Daniel Gaga, Solange Gahongayire and Selin D’amour among others. 

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Carole Karemera

Trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Belgium, Carole Karemera is both an actress and an artist. She is a director at Ishyo arts centre which she co-founded with seven other women. Although she loved mathematics and dreamt of working in a bakery as a child, she ended up in arts and movies.  She has appeared in theater plays such as The Trojan Woman by Euripides, The Ghost Woman by Kay Adshead, and Anathema among others. She found her fame in television and short films as a dancer for Ultima Vez Vandekeybus group in Belgium. Her movie roles include Sometimes in April, Juju Factory, Sounds of the sands and Black.

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