Author : Martin Kabagambe @cinemaUg
About a year ago
Ugandan Actors make it to Hollywood movie Little America
The web series which are described as the anthology of funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring, and surprising stories about the lives of immigrants are being aired on the Apple TV streaming site.
The eighth episode compendium Little America is inspired by true immigrant stories of people living in America today.
The one that catches our attention is Episode 5 titled The Baker, based on the story of Elizabeth Kizito which is written by Ugandan American writer Casallina Kisakye. Kisakye has additional writing credits on other amazing shows like Showtime’s The Chi and How To Make Love to a Black Woman among other phenomenal works.
The episode follows the story of Beatrice, played by Kemiyondo Coutinho, a woman from Uganda who moves to Kentucky and starts a bakery. Kemiyondo plays Beatrice A story too relatable to most immigrants. Beatrice’s family makes sacrifices for her to have a good education and life. Her father has high hopes and wants Beatrice to go abroad and make a better life for herself; she makes it to America and is now struggling to live up to the American dream. Years later, she’s a divorced single mother working at a diner…even with her Science degree and has a nagging mother questioning her life choices.
Kemiyondo, who most of us were first introduced to in her short film KYENVU, does her role justice and portrays acting prowess as Beatrice. “Little America is showing us that the stories we bring make this country’s story richer,” she commented about the series.
Another Ugandan on the Cast is Basemera aka Zani Lady-C who plays a daughter to Beatrice and Philip Luswata.
Little America is co-written and co-produced by American actor and comedian Kumail Nainjiani and brings different lives of people from other countries coming to America and how they struggle to make ends meet. Each episode on the series has 30 minutes and the series has been renewed for season two. Let's have hopes of seeing more Ugandan names and faces on the series.
So let's have an insight into the main Ugandan act on the series Kemiyondo Countinho. Kemiyondo's name could be somehow familiar or not new to your ears if you have been following the Ugandan movie industry. She wrote, directed, and starred in Kyenvu a film about miniskirt harassment in Uganda. A film that was received very well and won an Award on the Pan African Movie Festival after being premiered in Los Angeles. She also started A Ka Dope, a musical platform geared at giving new faces in the music industry a stage. She was featured on CNN's African Voices in 2017 for her work in the arts. One of the works that she has appeared in or worked on include Jabulile, Kawuna…you’re it, A Girl Like Me, Kyenvu, GREEN, and the recent Hollywood series Little America.
Kemiyondo and Basemera are not the first Ugandans to make it to the Hollywood blockbusters. We have had a couple of them in the movies but the most famous one is Nana Kagga.
Nana Kagga did only feature in one of Hollywood's best selling movies and series but also thrived in the Hollywood showbiz business. Kagga was cast in several films including Cowboys and Indians, A Good Day to Be Black and Sexy (Segment ‘Reprise’), He's Just Not That into You, Star Trek, CSI: NY – Boo, Life, Runway Stars. In US Theatre, Kagga was cast as Mercy in the play, Butterflies of Uganda by Darren Dahms which was nominated for an NAACP award.
Kagga appeared in several music videos by P!nk, Amy Winehouse, Sting, Lenny Kravitz. Kagga also appeared in several TV ads including KFC, Coors Light, Pepsi, DSW, Microsoft, APPLE, Tylenol, DOVE.
When Kagga came back to Uganda in 2009, she started up a production company Savanna Moon Productions to help out boost Uganda's film industry. They have produced great web series like Beneath The Lies gracing our screens.
We are happy that the Ugandan faces are on the Hollywood screen and pray that we keep the consistency in having them there year in year out not once in a while. This shouldn't be taken lightly, how they play on-screen will give an idea of what Ugandan talents are made of and may open doors for many Ugandans.
Compiled by Martin Kabagambe