NICKNAMED ‘‘Jukebox’’ because of her ability to sing almost any song at the click of a finger, Laura Ngwenya is an upcoming young actress emerging in Bulawayo.
Qualified in automobile electronics from Bulawayo Polytechnic, Laura has decided to pursue her love of music, singing with various groups in the City of Kings since 2013.
She has sung with Praise Unlimited Acapella, Bulawayo Polytech band/choir, the group ‘Vocal X’ and the band ‘Afro Queens’.
At Afro Queens she had her first encounter with musical instruments and tutoring from veteran musician John King Gara who, in partnership with Nhimbe Trust, groomed the band of six female instrumentalists from scratch.
In 2017, Laura stepped into the theatre world by joining Nhimbe Trust’s Women in Theatre and Television (WiTT) programme. The WITT programme provides training for young women in theatre production and presentation, and filmmaking.
Laura told the Daily News on Sunday: “I wanted to explore and learn even more of the performing arts. The training was great. It was a good platform to learn new things and for connecting with other ladies.”
In 2018 she was selected to take part in the production “Blood Tongue: The Musical” produced by Nhimbe Trust which toured in Bulawayo, Harare, Masvingo and South Africa to much acclaim. She played the roles of a police officer and waitress.
The highly acclaimed Lady Tshawe, one of the lead actresses in that production, said: “It was there that we began to learn how her voice can be used as a powerful instrument within theatrical productions.”
Now in the acting world, Laura counts Lady Tshawe, Dalma Diamond and Getrude Munhamo as strong influences in her chosen field that have helped her tremendously along the way.
Of African thespians beyond Zimbabwe, she is a great admirer of Nigeria’s Eni Edo.
In 2020 Laura received a Digital Resilience grant through Nhimbe Trust to help counter the effects of Covid-19 on women artists and is now enrolled in online business management/entrepreneurship classes to better understand the economics of being a creative.
She adds: “My journey as an upcoming female artist is financially challenging. But with pillars such as the Digital Resilience grant to stand on during this pandemic, to better myself in my career, I am grateful, as I am now able do more research and move from Point A to B. The grant is much appreciated.”
Nhimbe Trust is a Bulawayo-based non-profit organisation working at the intersection of culture and development to foster economic and social justice. It drives to address the key priorities of improved freedom of artistic expression, improved socio-economic status of artists, positive attitudes of society towards artists and their work, and enhanced gender equity in the culture sector.