Ugandan actress and screenwriter Leila Nakabira called on women to be fearless in fulfilling their goals, telling them, "You don't need validation, just do it," in a July 31 commemoration of African Women's Day.
Talking to Nakabira, she is still buzzing with the recent US movie where her latest film is Forbidden grabbed the Best Screenplay Award.
The 26-year-old, who practiced acting only three years ago, likes to "represent her country".
This has not always been an easy task. The Ugandan film industry, like its peers, is still struggling with storytelling and quality issues.
However, this did not prevent Nakabira from pursuing her childhood dream of becoming an actress. However, her mother almost did.
"My mother raised me as a single mother and as every parent wanted the best for their child. In Africa, parents do not believe that you can succeed in art until you have done it," she tells RFI.
Nakabira's first breakthrough came in 2016, when she was selected for the movie "Dream America," a film that encourages Ugandans to pursue opportunities at home rather than lose them to lofty dreams in the United States.
"We went to auditions and we were about 400 people. I was on a list of 10 people and, thank goodness, I came out as a winner," she says.
Since then, the actress has continued to appear in two television series before starring in the feature film Forbidden, she looks for a young girl to find her long-lost father, but loses her mother along the way.
In a cruel twist of fate, Nakabira also lost her own mother exactly two years ago.
"Today, on July 31, she celebrates two years in her grave. But before she passed, my mother allowed me to join the industry."
The sad anniversary coincides with another big date – the one on African Women's Day, which celebrates the remarkable achievements of African women from across the continent.
The day was created in 1962, after the first first African Women Conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
At that time, women were fighting against apartheid in South Africa and promoting real independence and gender equality in Africa.
Nearly 60 years later, Nakabira thinks there is a long way to go, especially when it comes to detecting sexual harassment in the film industry.
#MeToo and Lupita Nyong & # 39; o
"It is common for male directors to harass upcoming actresses," she said, adding that the global #MeToo movement, which covered the infamous film director Harvey Weinstein, could also emerge in Kampala.
This is on the condition that the actresses play their part. "Some actresses are desperate and put up with sexual harassment. But it's not their fault, it's not as easy to start as an actress in Uganda because there are so few productions," Nakabira says.
The actress and screenwriter has launched various online platforms to raise awareness of the industry's sexual harassment, along with YouTube videos on how to conquer the cinema world.
Giving back is important, says Nakabira.
Redefinition of "Black Beauty"
"I feel very respectful. I get a lot of people who say to me, 'Leila, inspire me. "And I am also grateful to the people who inspired me as Lupita Nyong & # 39; o."
A Kenyan-Mexican actress who has starred in blockbuster films like 12 years slave and Black Panther, helped transform the stereotypes of black women, with the traditional beauty standard targeting blonde women.
"Africans still have a problem with self-love, love the color of their skin and love their culture," admits Nakibra, who herself has faced prejudices from directors who preferred blond girls to their complexion.
But not her.
"I'm actually proud of my mother. My mother was chocolate-skinned and I was told to believe in myself and believe I was enough."
Her message to aspiring actresses on African Women's Day?
"Don't wait for anyone's validation, start today. It's not easy at first, but you have to stay on it and do it," she said.