What you need to know:
- Doreen Mirembe is a dental assistant, actress, writer and producer. She is the founder and CEO of Amani Production House. Isaac Ssejjombwe catch up with her.
Tell us about yourself?
I am a multi-award winning Ugandan actress, writer, producer and also the founder and CEO Amani Production House, a film company from where I have produced films such as; A Dog Story (2015), Nectar (2016) and Kafa Coh (2022). As an actress I have worked on other reputable productions such as; Mira Nair Disney Production Queen of Katwe, NTV’s Deception TV Series, Love Makanika and recently won the best actress at Zanzibar International Film Festival.
When did your film journey start?
I started my journey as an actress which I believe is my calling but I felt the need to tell my own stories. I reached a point when producers were not hiring me because I did not have enough time on my hands since I had a day job yet most producers are looking for full time actors or someone who is flexible. I also had so many stories in my head and I was burning to tell them. Stories that are so close to my heart and I want to be part of bringing them to life but I didn’t know how to write a script so I enrolled in Maisha film school for script writers and later I joined Mariam Ndagire film and performing Arts Centre (MFAPAC).
Who is your inspiration in the movie industry?
Every hardworking African filmmaker. Making a film is hard work. It takes a lot of crazy sacrifices, it drains you mentally and physically and requires a lot of money but you really need to be very passionate to invest in it because at some point we invest but you have no guarantees on return of investment so I am very inspired by the men and women who make films in Africa.
What challenges have you faced in this field?
Money and market. Like I said earlier film making is very expensive but it’s also true that one can make lots of cash in this industry but Ugandans have no cinema culture so the market is still poor but promising. Also lack of access to most of the beautiful locations to shoot in. Uganda is a very beautiful country but you might not see that in most of our films because filmmakers have no access to some locations. You need to go through a lot of channels for locations to be approved and sometimes denied yet it should be easy because it can create good publicity for Uganda otherwise you end up with films acted in sitting rooms and dining rooms.
Among your projects, which stands out and why?
Kafacoh because it’s a pan African story.
What is Kafa Coh all about?
It’s a story about the fight for justice in the face of power. I can’t tell you much, let’s wait for you to watch it on the 8th of October. I co-wrote Kafacoh with Musa Luswata and Sam, then I co directed it with Gilbert Lukalia and produced it.
And anything in the near future?
Wonderful African stories Uganda has a lot of interesting stories and we need to show them to the world. Currently, I and my team are in story development for our next project.
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
I open my bible. I believe I can’t do anything without God so I start my day with his blessings and that is the same thing I do as I go to sleep.
What is the first thing you do when you get to work?
I log in then call to check on our patients for the previous day to see if they are recovering well.
Earliest childhood memory?
Watching Phillip Luswata act In Egoli the place of gold on Mnet. I used to watch the show because it was an African story and was done really well. I was still young but I badly wanted to be part of such a show. I never knew any Ugandan could be part of a show like that. I would make sure I was done with all the house work so that I could watch Egoli. My eyes were in shock after I landed on Philip Luswata in a black and white suit (well television was in black and white back then) with a briefcase acting with a white man from that day till now I knew anything is possible.
First best friend?
My best friend has always been God, I talk to him and we have very good conversations and I don’t fear telling him anything without ever judging me.
I’m not at liberty to discuss that.
First book you read?
My first book was Jane Eyre. I loved it so much I still have it but it’s very old and torn. It’s about a simple girl as she battles through life and her love for her Boss Rochester.
I worked in town at a video library called Epic.
I was paid Shs140,000 per month this was help since I was on bursary so it would take care of the rest of my requirements
I am a dental assistant at Pan Dental Surgery and I am also a filmmaker.
What do you like about your job?
Putting a smile on patients’ faces after taking them out of pain they come in gives me satisfaction knowing that we can give someone a beautiful smile and healthy teeth keeps me going.