By Ogova Ondego
Published August 10, 2014
A Malawian stage and screen personality whose acting prowess has captured imagination has moved closer to her dream of showcasing her talent across Africa by starring in a Zambian production.
Flora Suya, the actress who gained continental attention with her work in SEASONS OF A LIFE and THE LAST FISHING BOAT dramas directed by Charles Shemu Joyah, just took the lead female role in CHENDA, a Zambian drama that revolves around a scorned wife who is struggling to remain despite living with a husband who is cheating on her. The film is directed by Owas Ray Mwape of Owas Crystal Films Productions.
You have just returned to Blantyre from Lusaka where you starred in your first foreign film alongside Zambian actors Owas Ray Mwape, Mingeli Palata, Dambisa Lunda and Adora Mwape; how did you find your work in Zambia?
Zambia was great. The people were amazing and I loved every minute of it. The guys I worked with are passionate about what they do and I fell in love with them the moment I got on set.
What’s the title of the film in which you starred and what’s it about?
The tile of the film is CHENDA. It is the latest movie I have featured in.I was Chenda, a proud wife whose inability to bear children drives her husband into an affair with a view to getting a child. Though Chenda doesn’t confront the offending husband when she discovers the affair, she plans her own revenge.
What do you hope to gain from the Zambian experience?
The Zambian work will give me a new platform to showcase my talent. Our film industry is very slow compared to other countries like Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, just to mention a few. I believe that practice makes one perfect so I took this opportunity to also improve my talent before I try it across Africa.
When did you start acting and what are some of the highlights of your work so far?
I started acting in 2005 at Wakhumbata Ensemble Theatre where I did three productions. I featured in my first movie at First Dawn Arts in 2007. It was called SEASONS OF A LIFE. I also work with Nanzikambe Arts in stage performances. So far I have featured in three productions; one was a collaboration with Theatre Kostanz of Germany. I featured in my second movie, THE LAST FISHING BOAT, in 2011. It was also directed and produced by Charles Shemu Joyah of First Dawn Arts of Blantyre, Malawi. CHENDA, an Owas Crystal Films Productions film of Zambia, is the third movie in which I have starred.
In which area of acting do you specialise?
I specialise in stage acting but I’m equally good in film acting.
What are some of the plays you have taken part in?
Wakhumbata Productions: Memories of love. I played Natalie, a girl who unknowingly falls in love with her half brother; Sweet and sour- Played Vitima, a wife who believes in voodoo and uses it to bring back her husband when he leaves her for another woman; Bleeding heart – played the role of a woman who regrets marrying and who, in an attempt to find love and affection, gets involved in multiple affairs.
First Dawn Arts: I played house maid in SEASONS OF A LIFE and fisherman’s wife in THE LAST FISHING BOAT.
Nanzikambe ‘ s Productions: I played Wangechi, a labourer’s wife who negatively influences her husband to make decisions that lead to their exploitation by the rich.This is in I will marry when I want by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o of Kenya.
The Messenger: I played mother, village woman and narrator. I narrated a true story that part of Malawi(in Nsanje) believe in. People there do not believe in God. They believe in their ancestor called M’bona. This is the play that we performed in Germany; Third life is a play we just launched a fortnight ago. I play a girl named Mongei who is in love with her best friend’s fiance.
Have you won any awards, nominations, accolades, so far?
I have three nominations: Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in 2010 and 2013 as Best Actress in a Lead Role. I also have a nomination at Malawi Women of Distinction Awards in the Arts Category as one of the women who have contributed a lot in the arts. The award ceremony has not happened yet.
Who do you consider to be the best director you have ever worked with so far?
I have worked with several directors but I will always remember Khumbo Bazuka Mhango, Charles Shemu Joyah and Owas Mwape. They are great directors. They are very patient and accommodating.
How about the best cast so far?
The best cast is the CHENDA cast. They were amazing. They made my stay easy and fun. We communicated well in everything and we had one objective; to have fun and bring out the best and put a smile on the director’s and the producer’s faces.
All right; how about the best production?
SEASONS OF A LIFE, no doubt.
Where do you see yourself in, say, two-three years from now?
I want to have my own production company and work across Africa.
What drives you, makes you tick, motivates you?
The passion I have for acting is my driving force. When I’m not acting, I feel like a part of me is missing. I get motivated by people like Tyler Perry who struggled to make it but they never lost hope. They teach me that quitting is not an option. What makes me tick is the vision that I have in my future as an actress and the fact that I know I have a rare talent. I’m calling it rare because I know many people can and do act and I know that I am very good at what I do and I have no restrictions when it comes to acting.
Please say something about your family background; how has it or is it shaping your career?
I thank God for my family. Being an actress in a religious family is not easy because people have their reservations but my family is very supportive. When I started acting they were worried because of the things that people associate actors with. I gave them my word that I would not disappoint them or be a disgrace to the family and they took my word for it. They are happy that they did.