In commemoration of Women’s month, we took some time to reflect on how far the creative industry has come in terms of equality and to highlight some of the incredible women in the industry. In this conversation, we speak about influences, progress, obstacles and the change they want to see.
Keryeko Pamela is a Ugandan actress, directress whose works range from theater, film, TV series and commercials. She is a 2016 Uganda Film Festival Award-winning actress for her role as Monica in Award-winning TV Drama, ‘The Coffee Shop.’
She has appeared in many theatre and screen plays, and started her acting career with the Obsessions, a theatre group born of Namasagali Alumni, from where she was handpicked to audition for a role in the television drama, ‘The Hostel’ on which she featured for three years.
Keryeko's stage credits include ‘All Ok’ written by Pia Wilson and ‘Better Than Yellow,’ written by James Scruggs, which were a part of the OBIE AWARD-WINNING 48 Hours In…™Harlem, produced by Harlem 9 and the National Black Theatre New York, which inspired Silent Voices Uganda’s 2018 production, among others.
Keryeko is also a trained Director from the Silent Voices Uganda Theater Directors’ Apprenticeship program and co-directed Shadow Of An Angel (2018) written by James Holtham, 1st Ad for Time Irreversible (2016) by The Ghetto Film Project, Hope: The Musical (2019) by Kampala Amateur Dramatics Society and Romeo and Juliet in Kampala which premiered in Germany.
At a very young age, my mother was a fan of the Arts. She took me to the theater for different shows, most notable, the Bakayimbira Dramactors. She was the first person that influenced me into the arts.
My sister introduced me to the ‘Obsessions’ in my young teenage years. I saw glamour on stage and I knew then that I wanted to create art.
Adong Judith has been a mentor. She has influenced a lot of my work and methods. Her value for excellence over whatever hardships is something I have tried to emulate in all my work.
I cannot fail to mention Oskar Semweya Musoke, principal of Taibah International School. He entrusted me with choreography and production of the annual school theater shows. My leadership skills within production started there. He pretty much fanned the flame that would ignite the director that I am.
That one is still a hard paper. Women are expected to be very sensitive and therefore poor decision makers. It is believed that they carry their sensitivity into their work.
As a result, a woman in the creative industry who knows what she wants and fights to get it at whatever cost is considered difficult to work with. Where the man is considered principled and strict, the woman is called the ‘B’ word.
However, we are seeing celebration off women in the creative industry with females being recognized in different areas. Adong is a laureate awardee for her work. Kemiyondo has her works on the international big screen. Eleanor Nabwiso has been awarded internationally. Rebecca Amulen scooped the best sound award at the Uganda Film festival, over a number of her male counterparts. Zahara Abdul is making strides in the photography world internationally. It is a good time to be a female creative in Uganda right now.
Oh… many! Lack of resources to pull off the things that I want to do, underpayment, being considered too ambitious, “this is Uganda” mindset… it’s like being Ugandan means you cannot strive to compete on the international stage.
Know what you want, research on it, plan for it, and stick to it. It is no easy road but it is worth it in the long run.
‘’A woman in the creative industry who knows what she wants and fights to get it at whatever cost is considered difficult to work with. Where the man is considered principled and strict, the woman is called the ‘B’ word.’’
I would love to see more public support for the creative arts, not only when they go international but from back home. There is so much we can achieve as an industry if our own would believe in us. We have the power of numbers but we are so segmented and lack faith in each other. I would love to see a consolidated audience across different regions in the country and Africa as continent on a whole.
Keryeko is currently working on a TV series called ‘Prestige’ in which she acts as Margot and also doubles as director. She is also working on a documentary series of short stories about Uganda.