Sheds light on her Zabalaza role
Bongani Ndlovu Showbiz Correspondent
THE name Vimbai Jari (real name Anne Nhira) evokes memories of the innocent looking girl who was the main character in the Zimbabwe Studio 263 soapie.
She left the local soapie in 2007 after having been with the cast for five years. In 2008, she joined many other Zimbabwean actors in the great trek to South Africa where she got her break when she featured in South African film The Rapist as one of the lead actresses.
In the same year she featured in a joint South Africa and Zimbabwe soapie Ndafunga Dande. The soap opera portrayed the life of Zimbabweans in the diaspora and the challenges and opportunities faced.
Last year, she launched her company Anne Studios International that specialises in talent identification and training, music production, artist management, film production and modelling.
Besides that, Nhira works as the Regional Wellness coordinator for EOH — a South African Information Technology solutions company. She is also studying for a Degree in Business Administration.
Saturday Leisure correspondent Bongani Ndlovu (BN) caught up with the actress (AN), who recently landed a role in the popular Zabalaza soapie that airs on Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161) from Monday to Thursday every week.
BN: What have you been up to?
AN: I’ve been busy trying to set up companies, working, studying and acting. I’ve managed to set up a talent development company, Anne Studios international which operates in Zimbabwe to assist up-and-coming artistes.
BN: Can you shed more light on your role at Zabalaza?
AN: I did not audition as I landed the role through my agent — Jays Artistes Management who sent my acting CV and profiles to Zalabaza directors and producers who were happy to rope me in. I’m playing the role of a Malawian-born hairdresser who moved to South Africa in search of greener pastures. She is an assertive woman who came to South Africa to make money and her focus revolves around that. She was arrested, so she is in jail at the moment.
BN: How is it acting on Zabalaza?
AN: It was great to meet some of the biggest and most influential acting names in South Africa. It’s also great exposure for me, as I’m doing scenes with Lindiwe Ndlovu who acts as Sponono. She’s amazingly humble. I also had scenes with Baby Cele and Thami Sithole who’re also amazing.
Being on set is normal for me, it’s all about being serious when the team is shooting your scenes. I thrive on the pressure that comes with the film industry, no play time.
BN: How long is your Zabalaza contract?
AN: It’s actually an ongoing contract. The directors call me as and when they need me. Right now according to the script, I’m in jail, so I’ll appear again when they want me.
BN: How is the Talent Development company you set up doing, any challenges, successes and future plans?
AN: Anne Studios International is doing great. We’re working on the music production and management in this quarter. We’re working with the best producers and music managers from South Africa.
In Zimbabwe we’re working with McDonald Chidavaenzi for music production and Benjamin Rupapa for music management among others. We’ve compiled the Anne Studios Compilation which features some of our local artists. We expect it to be released in the next month and we’ve planned several launch dates for our other divisions to be revealed later.
BN: With your experience in the Zimbabwean film industry, what lessons have you learnt from the exposure in South Africa?
AN: Film training is essential for the growth of Zimbabwe’s film industry and of course partnerships with broadcasters and sponsorship from some of the big companies and organisations. The Zimbabwean film industry is stagnant because no one is willing to take a risk.
It’s unfortunate that the passion to create film is slowly dying in Zimbabwe.
BN: What are your future plans?
AN: Making money definitely. I also want to establish Anne Studios International Company in most African countries, so as to produce films, create employment and make money.
BN: What memories do you have from the days you were on Studio 263?
AN: I remember working hard . . . extremely hard . . . five years without taking leave. It was tough, but it was an essential discipline and training that I needed.
BN: Did that exposure help you with what you are doing now?
AN: Studio 263 was a platform that shaped my life professionally and I will never take that for granted. It made me grow in more ways than one. I got tremendous experience about film production and acting during my years on the soapie. I got exposed to different people and environments. The exposure and hard work helped me to stay disciplined and focused. I’m not afraid to take risks and this taught me to be a fighter and to stay true to myself by separating my work and my personal life.
Being in the public eye left me exposed to everyone’s personal opinion of me and I respect that.
I later decided to create my own empire and work hard for my own money. I’d probably not have worked half as hard if life had been different. I aspired for bigger and better goals in life all the time. I told myself that my life should tell a beautiful inspiring story.
BN: Are there any similarities between Vimbai Jari and Anne Nhira?
AN: Anne speaks her mind; she takes the lead, quite strong and opinionated, confident and a strong feminist, unlike Vimbai.
BN: How do you express yourself in terms of fashion?
AN: My fashion options are quite broad, but I always go for the classy and sexy look. I love dressing up, I rarely go anywhere without make up or at least a touch up and heels. I wear dresses a lot more, long and short, for business meetings, evening functions and at work with a good pair of heels. I also like spotting hats, caps and jeans or shorts on casual days and weekends. I accessorise the looks with a scarf and bits of jewellery to spice up the look.