By Sharon Kavhu
Windhoek- “…. things like these humble me to bits. Thank you NASFEST! To everyone that has been part of this journey, God bless you!”
This was Joyce Mhango-Chavula’s first post on social media after being honoured at the National Schools Youth Festival (NASFEST).
Mhango-Chavula of Malawi is among women in southern Africa who are making strides in the filming industry. She was honoured with a Women Achievement in Film and Theatre Award - 2019, last week.
The wife and a mother of two daughters told The Southern Times that a combination of diligence and family support helps her balance her career and other roles.
“I am lucky to have a solid support system which constitutes of my mother, sisters, husband, friends and extended family, among several others. I can rely on them for anything. Through the years, I have taught myself to make the best of where I am, work is work and family is family,” said Mhango-Chavula.
Mhango-Chavula, who has won several regional awards in the film industry, said her success journey in the industry has been characterised by ups and downs. However, through all the failures and challenges, she never lost her focus.
She said her focus in her career is driven by passion and it has always been her strength every time she felt like giving up.
“I pursued the filming industry to change the perception that women cannot make it in the industry. When I joined the industry, I really wanted to be a role model to the girls who aspire to pursue arts in Malawi and the rest of the southern African region,” she said.
She urged other women in the region, who are passionate about filming, to keep pushing, remain focused and never give up because there are more opportunities now than ever before.
Her message reiterated the need for women to be sedulous and make a difference in the industry.
Although her inspiration comes from her inner self, Mhango-Chavula admires and respects efforts by other women in the region such as ‑ Connie Ferguson from South Africa, Rumbi Katedza and Danai Gurira from Zimbabwe, just to mention a few.
The Malawian talent noted with great concern the challenges that southern African women are facing in the filming industry due to cultural values.
“We are brought up in a space where we believe that certain careers or jobs are never meant for women. This makes it hard for men that are in these circles to give room for women and worse still, because of such perceptions many women and girls are scared to pursue and occupy certain spaces. As a woman, I had to literally fight for my voice to be heard until now when most men in the industry look at me as a colleague who has rights just like them.”
She encouraged women to be courageous.
While some men in the filming industry may offer opportunities to women in exchange for sexual favours, Mhango-Chavula managed to make it in the industry without having to sink low. She never fell for the foolish demands of men.
As a way of giving back to the community and grooming talent, Mhango-Chavula has worked with a lot of young talents. She is involved in some youth projects through youth organisation to provide filming mentorships.
The Malawian film director has several film credits including, Nigerian movie-‘Reflections’ where she is an actress and line producer, ‘Kamara Tree’-Sierra Leone (2012) as an actress and assistant production manager, ‘The Last Fishing Boat’-Malawi as an actress and production coordinator, ‘B’ella’-Malawi as an actress and Art Director, and ‘No More Tears’-Malawi as a screenwriter and director.
She is also a Youth Art Ambassador, board member of Arts, Productive and Marketing Cooperative and Light of Youth Creative Organisation in Malawi.
She has won numerous awards and these include: Arts Development Recognition Award-2012, Best Actress - 2013, AMVCA for best movie southern Africa-2016, Most Inspirational Woman-2016 - WODA, Best Director and Best Feature Film- Theatres Movie Awards - 2017.