Africa’s film industry over the years has applaudably witnessed a boom on the international scale as compared to ancient times. With fast-rising movie industries like Nigeria’s Nollywood and Ghana’s Ghallywood racking in jaw-dropping figures at the box office, African cinema is beyond doubt on the right track.
The Zambian film industry in contrast, although in existence for over five decades has been struggling to catapult itself into the global spotlight, with exception of the Rungano Nyoni’s 2017 intriguing provocative satire “I Am Not a Witch” which drew critical acclaim beyond the shores of the country. Although the motion is gradually being put in place as the country slowly awakens to the huge potential of Zollywood in terms of being a major driver of job creations and general economic boost, there’s still a long way to recognition for Zambia’s film industry. Measures including the introduction of proper structures for every facet, core training of filmmakers, proper marketing strategies, as well as truly embracing and representing their roots in storytelling, have been advocated to help change the narrative.
Amongst her top talents tirelessly fighting to boost the industry is Greek/Zambian-born international actor, educator, and dialect coach Maria Mukuka. Although based in New York City, Mukuka’s love for her roots keep drawing her back, she is ever committed to showcasing the Zambian culture via theatre.
The performer has developed, co-produced, directed, and starred in two devised theatrical pieces in Lusaka, Zambia—one of which, Chief Jones – sponsored by the prestigious USA Tow Foundation. Maria has given workshops internationally as well-coached Off-Broadway. She was also notably cast opposite Tony-winning Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad and “Black Panther” star, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o in the prestigious NYC four-part radio play Richard II by the Public Theater and WNYC – Shakespeare in the Park series.
Upon completion of her IB Diploma at the International School of Lusaka, Mukuka moved to New York City to pursue an acting career. While studying for her undergraduate degree in theater, Mukuka made her Off-Broadway debut at the world’s largest solo theater festival, with her one-woman show, “Race Free” – the show, dubbed a best seller by the festival sold out.
Maria Mukuka in addition to her acting career is a Lecturer of Acting at Brooklyn College, The City University of New York, and a Dialect Coach specializing in African dialects for Off-Broadway productions.
Maria earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Brooklyn College.