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AFRICA AT THE OSCARS #7: Rachel Mwanza

With two film roles under her belt and Best Actress awards from the Berlin Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festivaland the Vancouver Film Critics Circle in 2012, as well as a nomination for Best Actress at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards, the promising young actress from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will soon be on her way to yet another awards ceremony after recently being granted a visa to travel to the United States. The visa comes just in time for the Oscars this weekend where the film in which Mwanza made her debut role, Rebelle, is nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category as a submission from Canada.

Born in the DRC in 1997, Mwanza had a troubled and painful upbringing. Abandoned by her parents at the age of six, she subsequently spent the following years of her life living between her grandmother’s house and life on the streets, her life was significantly transformed after being cast in filmmaker Kim Nguyen’s film Rebelle where she plays the lead role of Komona, a girl kidnapped by a Congolese army at the age of 12. She was cast in the film after Nguyen saw her in a documentary about street children in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. The filmmakers have also agreed to fund Mwanza’s education until she reaches 18.

Her most recent role is in the Marc-Henri Wajnberg drama Kinshasa Kids.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Mwanza in the future and in more diverse roles.

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