Tendaiishe Chitima, Netflix’s Zimbabwean Queen

17th December 2020

In February 2020 I reconnected with Tendai as we were finally in the same city after many years. When we met, she told me she was ambitiously pursuing her acting career which I had no doubt about. Skip to a few months later, and I was scrolling through Netflix to find something interesting to watch and came across the Cook-Off which is the first Zimbabwean film on Netflix. This alone is already a big deal, but the fact that it’s also a film that was made with limited resources and a rom-com makes it a jackpot.

Nonetheless, Tendai and I were recently on the phone catching up on everything, and unbeknownst to her, I spontaneously decided to ask her some questions, below is what came of it. Enjoy!

1. Tell us in your words who Tendai Chitima is?

I am an ambitious African actress who has a keen interest in film, business, and technology. I am a leading change maker and destiny unlocker, who loves to help others fulfill their purpose and dreams.

2. When did you decide to form a brand of yourself?
I have been working on my brand since I studied for a Master of Business Administration degree and took marketing elective courses. The importance of building personal and professional brands as well as seeing myself as a business became clearer then.

3. Describe in your words what best represents you as a person.
What best represents me is my faith. My faith has shaped who I am and led me to where I am today.

4. Share some tips or pointers that help you overcome any obstacles along the way of your life journey.

  • Having strong and dependable relationships with people who care and want to see you succeed. This could be mentors (mentees too), like-minded purpose-driven friends, or supportive family.
  • Failing forward, never giving up on your dreams.
  • Learning and unlearning because what worked for you yesterday may not work for you tomorrow.

5. Why did you feel it was something necessary in the Zimbabwean market to be as innovative as you are?
When I decided to pursue acting and film professionally, I quickly realized that there weren’t many people doing that. Clearly, there was a huge gap in positioning the acting profession as a viable and fulfilling career for Zimbabweans and I challenged myself to work hard to make it possible, or at least to find out how.

6. Have you made a footprint in other African countries or internationally?
Besides working in Zimbabwe, I have also worked on TV shows in South Africa and most recently, my debut feature film became the first Zimbabwean production to be streamed on the global streaming platform, Netflix.

7. What are your plans in general for your future?
My plans are to participate in and create work that changes the narrative and shapes perceptions and identities of black African people in ways that build positive and empowered self-images. To project into the future our hopes and dreams through film and media, then to see it come to life.

8. What advice do you have for other young African entrepreneurs/ entertainment artists?

  • Nothing is impossible. Don’t limit what you can do and how far you can go.
  • Be professional, train, get educated, and take yourself seriously.
  • Create your own opportunities, don’t wait for someone to come and save you.

9. Please list any accolades you have in the past few years.
Best Zimbabwean Actress 2018 – Zimbabwe International Film Festival
Outstanding Performance in a Film 2019 – National Arts and Merit Awards (NAMA), Zimbabwe

10. What’s your favorite quote and why?

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

– Robert Frost, 1916

This excerpt is from one of my favorite poems The Road Less Taken. Those specific lines resonate with me because I always feel that by choosing a career in acting, I took the road less traveled and it changed my life for the better. I live purposefully, doing what I love and hopefully inspiring others along the way.

11. What books do you recommend as reading material for other young people in your field?

  • Uta Hagen, Respect for Acting
  • Sanford Meisner, On Acting
  • Ivana Chubbuck, The Power of the Actor
  • Stella Adler, The Art of Acting

12. Lastly, who are your top three social media influencers in the entertainment industry and why?
I’ll name one whom I follow consistently – Will Smith. His content is technologically innovative, honest, relevant, and creatively inspiring!

Written by Lerato Chiyangwa

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