|From left Alinda Ruhinda with her young sister |
Angela Ruhinda they're the brave co-owners
of Black Unicorn Sturdios
Angela 29 (will be 30 in Dec) is a native Tanzanian who is the co-founder of Black Unicorn Studios together with her big sister Alinda Ruhinda, who was also on set this afternoon. Black Unicorn a film/video production company opened its doors in August this year http://www.blackunicornstudios.co.tz .
|From left actors Iman Lipumba and Yann Sow,|
in a rehearsal of 'The Big 3' scheduled to show
this weekend in DSM
“I’ve wanted to write and do entertainment in general all my life…I took my undergrad in ‘Philosophy and Film Studies’ at the University of Hertfordshire and after that I was like to my parents. ‘I want to go to LA and study screen writing’ and they were like ‘right people do that?’” Angela shares her last words laced with apprehensive humor, thankfully her parents came through as she took her MFA at the New York Film Academy in LA this in 2011.
The missing link in our mainstream ‘bongo’ movies of internationally accepted guidelines of stage production. Like having audition calls, following a written script from the first rehearsal, ensuring there’s at least a month to rehearse from table readings to stage rehearsals with props and costumes. Are guidelines that Black Unicorn Studios implement despite being a self-financed embryo company.
“I really believe you either go full throttle or you don’t do it at all. So if I did it just a little bit I could always just quit next week and be like ‘Oh maybe I’ll just get a regular job’ which I know I’ll never be happy doing, so this is me giving us the extra fire that we need to keep pushing.” Angela speaking as a bold entrepreneur who was brought up with feminist values, which have translated onto this script ‘The Big 3’.
|Angela Ruhinda co-founder of|
Black Unicorn Studios
“I have always been aware that I am female, when I went to the US was the first time I was made aware that I am also black...I’d walk into rooms with executives and stuff and my selling point would be ‘oh she’s African blablabla, which even my representation would push me to use that ‘you have a unique point of view, make sure you tell them your stories about back home and all that stuff'. And I was like this feels a little weird it feels like I am literally selling myself a little bit…But they gravitated towards the fact that I was coming from a different perspective in being African not African American.” Angela shares her experiences prior to Black Unicorn after finishing her masters, where she worked as a freelance screenwriter in LA for a couple of years.
Her big break came in 2014 when she managed to sell her thesis from her MFA, a comedy script called ‘Iman & Andy’ to ABC studios. She got encouragement from a faculty member to push the script onto the screen and then found a production company Electus, who liked the same and promised to work with her to pitch it to networks. It was here that Whoopi Goldberg got wind of the script and gave it to ABC, that year several scripts were sold for consideration at ABC. Where shows like Selfie and Blackish won production. In 2017 Angela Ruhinda’s name would appear for the first time on credits in the production of the film ‘Moonlight in Vermont’ this on the Hallmark Channel.
|From left actors Jonas Mugabe, Angela Ruhinda and David|
Msia in an early rehearsal of 'The Big 3'
Now Angela brings us ‘The Big 3’ which she wrote while in Tanzania. “It’s one of those occupations that everyone thinks they can do and I can’t even blame them, cause it looks like you just sit down and think ‘ah this happens and then..’ ...the course I took was really meticulous really thorough. We learnt everything from basic storytelling to, we had one class where we focused on character and our tutor had a doctorate in psychology.
So she was a screenwriter but she also knew the psychology of people. So we had classes or assignments where we’d be like, cause people just think the character she lives here, she’s 29 blablabla but then our tutor would be like. 'But why is she here, how did she grow up, how does she feel about her mom..?' this really helps inform the story…” Angela adds, she has been outside of Tanzania for most of her life with parents that worked outside the country. She was born in Canada and spent a couple of years of her primary education in Tanzania but the rest of her time saw her in China, Kenya, the United Kingdom and finally the USA. Now she’s back in her native country and with the investment she and her sister have made in Black Unicorn, it looks like she’s here to stay.
|From left it's Sharlyn Mthetwa and Alinda Ruhinda|
supervising this early rehearsal of 'The Big 3' inside
Black Unicorn offices in Dar.
“That feeling like you’re foreign almost everywhere mmhm segregation of the travelled African, that touches me…”Angela talks as she touches her chest on the final words reiterating a phrase I have coined, in explaining the divide that those who have swam the waters of being non-residential Africans face, when they return back to their home country.
It’s this theme that I foresee Angela and her company having to unpack carefully so they make good returns on their investments. For though its clear with Alinda’s background in Advertising that Black Unicorn can pull its financing from the corporate world. It’s also true that to fulfill Angela’s passion in the creative film industry particularly for the Tanzanian public and even the diaspora on the continent.
Future productions of Black Unicorn, may have to be pragmatically aware of their ‘diaspora’ perspective so as to be widely received by Tanzania's public. It’s not just the use of Swahili scripts or subtitles, which will endear the public but also a way of working with the mainstream 'bongo movie' scene as they have many advantages on their belt including market penetration and widely adored actors and directors.
You can catch this first production of ‘The Big 3’ at the Little Theatre tomorrow and Sunday afternoon in Dar es Salaam. It features actors David Msia, Yann Sow, Iman Lipumba, Jesse Mihayo, Jonas Mugabe, Angela Ruhinda (as main character Shubi) as well Sharlyn Mthethwa as the stage manager.
|From left it's actors Yann Sow, Iman Lipumba, Alinda Ruhinda, |
Angela Ruhinda, Jesse Miayo, Sharlyn Mthethwa and Jonas Mugabe
In between rehearsal I caught the crew in riveting discussion from the play's subject matter, they were talking of how 'open relationships' exist their forms in Dar and Tanzania in general. This makes me believe after we watch the show an interesting discussion will arise from the audience. So pool your girlfriends and guys for this weekend the 10th or 11th Nov from 7pm or 4pm respectively. Entrance is 20,000Tshs for more info visit their website above to gain tickets (there are already selling like hot cakes) it’s an all-Tanzanian cast new faces, bold talent lets support our own.
Also Black Unicorn is looking for Swahili or English Scripts for a short or feature film deadline being Jan 18th check this link for more info. http://www.blackunicornstudios.co.tz/2018/10/16/made-in-africa-screenwiritng-competition/
This article was first published on the East African Newspaper https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/magazine/Angela-ruhinda-fresh-from-hollywood-with-ideas/434746-4824276-iu9fwdz/index.html