Grace Rumsey , popularly known as ‘Mwaka‘ from the Zambezi Magic series ‘Fever’ , is an actress and voice-over artist . Her first major roll in film was in the popular series Love Games ,where she played the character of Faridah , best friend to the controversial star of the show Mimi .
We caught up with Grace Rumsey for an interview .
KAPA187: Briefly tell us about yourself.
Grace Rumsey: that’s always hard to answer well, My name is Grace Tamara Rumsey , I’m a very assertive person I know what I want out of life, still learning how to get there though. I am Christian by faith. I have a soft spot for children, babies especially. I’m a lover of butterflies and Dolphins ,have a weakness for shopping, what can I say I’m a girlie girl and funny enough I’m quite shy. But I speak my mind when necessary.
KAPA187: How did you get into acting, and tell us how you felt the first time you saw yourself on a TV screen.
Grace Rumsey: well I’ve been acting since I was very young. The first role I ever played was a hyena from ‘the jungle book’ I was in grade 3 lol and all through high school too. It was when my speech and drama teacher told me to take my acting seriously, she actually said “I will be upset if you don’t cause you are so talented”. I had my fears perusing it but her push gave me so much hope. I started acting classes at the Johannesburg civic theatre when I got done with high school but it was short lived cause I had to move back home. I had trouble finding acting classes or meeting people in the industry so started using my other talent, dance, hoping I would get connected to the right people. I did a few commercial ads. My first time seeing myself on TV was on my first commercial for Cellz at the time, my clip was so short but the excitement I had every time it on was priceless.
KAPA187: You were part of the cast of the popular Zambian TV series Love Games. How did you get the chance to be part of it?
Grace Rumsey: Yes I was, well in 2009 my house mate at the time knew how I was trying to get into the industry and her cousin had starred in ‘club Ricky business’ so she advised me to follow ‘media 365’ page on Facebook. she’d told me they usually posted whenever they had a new project. So I did just that, then in 2010 they had auditions for short mini series called “My Country” it was actually on my birthday when I went for this audition I was so nervous, anxious and very excited there were quite a number of people that turned up but I got the part it was for a supporting role.
KAPA187: Love Games become very popular and even won some awards including Best Television Series and Drama at the 2014 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMWC). How was the overall experience working on that series and what did you learn from it?
Grace Rumsey: winning that award as a team was mind blowing, just kept saying thank you God for giving Zambia the recognition and platform for the whole of Africa to see what we are made of. The experience was great I must say I learnt a lot from Uncle Jeff Sithali, he was a great mentor, love and appreciate his wisdom. There’s nothing better than doing work that you love even with all the frustrations it was all worth it.
KAPA187: This year DSTV channel Zambezi Magic has started to show case some Zambian productions, such as ‘Fever’, ‘Njila-The Phase’ and some others to come in the near future. What is your take on this initiative?
Grace Rumsey: It’s our time and Gods timing is always best. There’s been a lot of growth in the film industry, people are slowly getting out of their comfort zone and are learning the think outside the box and finally our craft is being taken a lot more seriously now and being appreciated more. This platform we have been given has come at the right time. Thank you Zambezi Magic .
KAPA187: ‘Fever’ is a series that has gotten a lot of people talking. It has great acting and excellent Cinematography. For those who have not yet watched it , tell us what it is all about .
Grace Rumsey: Fever is basically a story that’s surrounded by a family “The Mvulas ” that lives in an imaginary street called “leafy street”. Their secrets begin to have a chain of reactions when a woman comes for revenge. They keep trying to protect themselves from one another with lies and deception for the sake of keeping their family together at all costs, and portraying this picture perfect life. Each ones story connects them to many other lives that begin to unravel.
KAPA187: Mwaka, is the somewhat controversial character you portray on ‘Fever’. Tell us a little bit about her and without giving too much away, what we can expect from her.
Grace Rumsey: Mwaka ni Mwaka lol. She’s a con-artist; she plays off peoples weaknesses and uses her charm to get what she wants and needs. She’s mastered the art of manipulation; she makes her presents felt whenever you see her. She’s a very strong character who lives on the edge and comes off fearless. Mwaka has had a rough life, she felt enough was enough of people taking advantage of her and she became this rebel and will do whatever it takes to ensure her survival and to get out of the compound. Pity she lacks wisdom lol. Hmmm, what to expect…all i will say is you think you know Mwaka but you have no idea!!
KAPA187: How have you and the rest of the cast and crew of ‘Fever’, felt about the overwhelmingly positive response the series is getting from the viewers.
Grace Rumsey: I thank God every day. I was very sceptical, you know Zambians are tough to please lol. But wow we are so pleased and feel so motivated to keep pushing to give you all better TV, it’s beyond humbling to have people inboxing you or writing on your wall appreciating your work… The true praise is to God ,he gives us our talents.
KAPA187: The Zambian film industry can be said to still be in its infancy. What do you think needs to be done in order to accelerate the rate of growth of the industry?
Grace Rumsey: Our government needs to get involved more and people need to stop treating Art like it has no value. An Actor can’t even proudly say they are one because they fear being laughed at or not taken seriously in society ,but yet we are there praising Halle berry, will smith etc. we need to change our mind set and view Artists differently ,appreciate our work and talent ,place value on it. Music and Acting are very influential tools globally, if people can invest more like they do in sport we will be on another level cause Zambia has so much potential.
KAPA187: Whilst there have been some Locally produced movies shown at the cinemas ,there is still a perception that Zambian movies are of low quality even when in reality the quality is steadily increasing . What needs to be done to change that perception?
Grace Rumsey: Yes the budgets for most productions are low, yes actors sometimes have to work for free, like I said the mind set needs to change, it all starts from there. We are so good at criticising but what are you doing about it? Nothing, we need our people to support us we cannot grow if you don’t watch our movies, we cannot grow if film makers are not being supported with funding. I feel we too as artists need to take our selves a lot more seriously. I always like to use myself as an example. I won’t want to pay for mediocre so why should I give you mediocre. We artists need to change our work ethic and attitude, take more pride in what we do. We complain about not having work ,not getting paid right for our work, but do we deliver more than what we get ? I remember complaining about not having work, but the whole time I had no projects what was I doing to improve my skill? I asked myself “but Grace if you got an opportunity abroad would you be able to deliver ?” fair enough there are no film schools no acting schools but you have access to the Internet, why not use that, read more, learn more, practise more, so the next time you on set you are better than before.
KAPA187: in the western world i.e. USA, UK etc and even here in Africa in countries like Nigeria and South Africa, people are able to make a good living in the Film industry. What is the situation like in Zambia?
Grace Rumsey: it’s so hard you can’t depend on film alone otherwise you will end up homeless lol lol. The South Africans and Nigerians take pride in their own, they are united, they support one another and that’s why their industry has grown at a fast rate. Unity is everything, but we are improving I must say we’ll get there.
KAPA187: Apart from ‘Fever’, are there any other projects that you are currently working on?
Grace Rumsey: Not yet, but will start soon, though not in front of the camera more on the production side of things. I want to spread my wings and explore other avenues of film. And I’m working on a personal project that will involve stage production, something that’s very close to my heart, can’t say a lot about it just yet but you will know in due time.
KAPA187: Apart from acting, what else are you involved in.
Grace Rumsey: I had recently visited Shabwafwa village, just outside Lusaka in katuba, and the project that my friend kasweka kay Sakaimbo and her Partner George Chipango are doing is amazing, the project is called ‘building futures’. The kids there have no Schools close by ,all five villages near the area have no access to learning, the kids who live close by a mosque learn from there, over 200 of them. So they decided to help and we are building a school, it was my first visit and upon seeing those kids my heart shattered, these kids have no role models, no goals, vision or ambition all they know is marriage which also happens at a very tender age. After my friends began this building project, the women have been so inspired that they too want to learn, it was so nice to see how eager they were to learn. So we went to help push the building further so the school can be opened mid this year and more children will be able to have access to the school.
After putting it on hold for so long, I finally started Choreographing, working with a few artists for both stage and videos. Dance has always been part of me so putting it to good use now lol.
KAPA187: Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
Grace Rumsey: 10 years, wow that’s a long time ,well to have done my first movie, something I’m still researching on. Should have won 2 international awards, best actress and for best film. Married with my twin girl’s lol lol I love babies.
The ‘building futures’ should have opened 8 schools in different villages.
My stage production will get to be show cased all over Africa, fighting against abuse of young women and children. May God equip me to be able help those with silent cries.
KAPA187: Any last words…
Grace Rumsey: Yes, thank you Lord for your never ending love and blessings, you never seizes to amaze me. My Cheerleaders for your support, always encouraging me even when I lost hope. Stephanie you have been such great support. Anita, Nokuthula and Samantha I love you so much my rocks. Onechi and Brian Chama for believing in me more than I believed in myself you continue to inspire me. My siblings Alex, Eliz and Gladys my Cousin Francinette your love keeps me going thank you for supporting your sister. My fans you humble me thank you. Greater things ahead there’s no stopping now, believe in yourself your dreams are never too big.
Catch ‘Fever’ every Tuesday at 20:30hrs only on DSTV channel 160 Zambezi Magic
interact with her on social media :
Facebook: Grace Rumsey